When Orson Welles burst onto the Hollywood scene in 1941 with Citizen Kane it was the beginning of an extraordinary yet troubled career in the movies. It was also the climax to a ten-year period in which he had conquered first Broadway, then the radio airwaves, with the same furious brilliance. From the notorious, panic-inducing The War of the Worlds to his re-imagining of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the play which had made his name on Broadway.
This site brings not only the surviving recordings from the Mercury Theatre on the Air, but also a selection of Welles' other pioneering radio work. This includes his seven-episode adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and a selection of other recordings from his radio career. Welles' radio work is often overshadowed by his contribution to cinema, however it remains one of the most extraordinary bodies of work in the history of radio, as fresh today as it was eighty years ago.
The Mercury Theatre on the Air produced some of the most extraordinary radio to ever hit the airwaves. Welles’s direction and acting, Bernard Herrmann’s visionary scores and the likes of Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead in supporting roles, combined to produce electrifying renditions of established classics.
Although the Mercury Theatre on the Air has never quite slipped into obscurity, the plays are rarely heard on contemporary radio and in spite of having fallen into the public domain, they have fallen out of the public consciousness. The first series of 22 episodes (of which 4 are considered lost) were uniquely creative adaptations of classic and contemporary literature. This site aims to offer those productions, newly-remastered and entirely free, in the hope that a new generation of listeners can enjoy them.
We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.
Every time I listened to Lux Radio Theatre, I wanted to vomit.
I can think of nothing that an audience won't understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested, they understand anything in the world.