Date of this Version
This interdisciplinary history and theatre arts course used Orson Welles’s 1938 broadcast of “War of the Worlds” as a lens through which to consider the history of the United States in the 1930s, America’s early engagement with radio and mass media, the possibilities for storytelling and the power of theatre, and the connections between media and manipulation, and fascism and fake news. In the culminating project, the 12 University of Pennsylvania students in the class adapted and performed their own version of the radio play. In reviving, revising and retelling the tale, best remembered for the panic it supposedly spawned, the students made it feel contemporary, enabling them to explore America in the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II, and the performance process, as well as the enduring issues the program raised.
History 247 / Theatre Arts 275 – Martians in New Jersey: Media, Performance and America in 1938
The radio play “War of the Worlds” by Howard Koch is used by permission of Peter Koch.
Date Posted: 11 May 2017