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THE WAR OF THE WORLDS Announced at The Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse

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An invasion has begun, and is recounted through terrified first person radio broadcasts right up to its impossible conclusion.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS Announced at The Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse

The groundbreaking reading series continues as Obie Award winner Metropolitan Playhouse presents its next "screened" reading: The War of the Worlds: The 1938 Radio Script, by Howard E. Koch, based on the novel by H.G. Wells, live-streamed, with talkback to follow, on October 31st, 2020 at 8 PM, EDT. Watch at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org. This special presentation will be presented through Broadway on Demand at a charge per viewer of $2.95.

A series of explosions on Mars is followed by an unidentifiable object falling to Earth in Grover's Mill, NJ. An invasion has begun, and is recounted through terrified first person radio broadcasts right up to its impossible conclusion.

Metropolitan presents the original radio script for the famous broadcast: a 1938 Hallowe'en special for Orson Welles's Mercury Theater. Renowned as "the night that panicked America," owing to a number of CBS listeners believing the fiction was fact, the script is an extraordinarily taut and exciting adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel. Playwright and screenwriter Howard E. Koch translated the 19th century English tale to WWII era America, making the most of the wartime technology and anxieties. The story unfolds in tense real time through the voices of anxious reporters, scientists, and citizens, watching their world torn apart.

For Metropolitan's production, all 24 parts will be played by a cast of 6 veteran voice actors, including Ryan Vincent Anderson (The Play That Went Wrong), Gilly Caulo, David Patrick Ford (Year One of the Empire), Joshua Nicholson, Mitch Tebo (Oklahoma on Broadway), and Matthew Trumbull. Directed by Mark Harborth.

Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (www.playscripts.com)

HOWARD E. KOCH, was born in New York City and grew up in Kingston, New York. He was a graduate of St. Stephen's College (now Bard College) and received a law degree from Columbia in 1925. While practicing law in Hartsdale, New York he began to write plays. Great Scott (1929), Give Us This Day (1933), and In Time To Come (1941) were produced on Broadway. His radio work in the 1930s as a writer for the CBS Mercury Theater on the Air included the famous Orson Welles radio drama The War Of the Worlds (1938), which caused a nationwide panic for its documentary-like portrayal of an invasion of monsters from the planet Mars.

In 1940 he launched his career in Hollywood, collaborating on the screenplay for The Sea Hawk (1940). Screenplays written since then include The Letter (1940), Sergeant York (1941), Casablanca (1942), Mission to Moscow (1943), Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) and No Sad Songs for Me (1950). He won an Academy Award for collaboration on the best screenplay of 1942 for Casablanca.

Mission to Moscow eventually led to Koch's blacklisting in 1951. This wartime film, which portrayed Stalin and the Soviet Union positively, ironically was written at the request of President Roosevelt and Jack Warner. As a result of the blacklist, he moved with his family to Europe and eventually took up residence in the United Kingdom with other blacklisted writers where he wrote for five years for film and television under the pseudonyms "Peter Howard" and "Anne Rodney." In 1956, he returned to the United States and settled in Woodstock, New York, where he continued to write screenplays and books and remained actively committed to progressive political and social justice causes. Howard Koch died 1995 in Kingston, New York and is survived by wife, Anne and son, Peter.

The Playhouse's virtual readings serve to help us compensate performing artists, so particularly hurt during this long "pause." Information about the theater's ARTISTS RELIEF FUND may be found at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/covidaid.


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