Radioactive Duologues - for radio, stage and screen
Edited by Marina Caldarone and Marilyn Le Conte
Dateline: 6th August, 2006
This handy little paperback is unusual in the field of audition texts.
Most books tend to feature monologues that are directly intended to
help actors to get stage jobs.
Despite the subtitle, Radioactive Duologues is primarily geared
to actors looking for work in radio and the game is given away by the
foreword from Gordon House, who was the head of BBC Radio Drama for
The introduction is helpful, containing what are described as "radioactive
warnings". These include such gems as "the trick is to keep
breathing", "play the microphone" and "page-turning".
Another differentiator for this book is that it features short pieces
for two actors working together rather than solo pieces. The editors
have restricted themselves to modern plays with an emphasis on contemporary
themes featuring comedy and/or menace. The dialogue is generally short
and sharp with much interaction and few long sentences or paragraphs.
While a number were specifically written for the radio, far more are
from stage plays, with a strong preference for works from new writing
theatres such as the Royal Court and Soho. There is though the ubiquitous
Ayckbourn, together with the likes of Jonathan Harvey, Joe Penhall,
Christopher Shinn, Shelagh Stephenson and radio expert Sheila Goff.
Each piece is given a short introduction that sets the scene and, at
least in theory, will allow actors to understand the characters that
they are playing - albeit only for a minute or two. However, realistically
anyone seeking a job would be mad to rely on 100-200 words of text,
when they should read and understand the whole play in order to get
The pieces are helpfully divided between male - male, female - female
and male - female. While the extracts offer a reasonable variety of
accents and many can be used with a choice of accents, older actors
will find very few opportunities, although as the authors point out,
in their chosen medium, age can be pretty irrelevant, especially for
The two writers are eminently qualified to write a book of this type.
Marina Caldarone has trained actors, worked as an artistic director
and as a freelance radio drama producer as well as drama director of
a production company making voice-over CDs for actors.
As well as being an actress, her colleague, Marilyn Le Conte is a lecturer
in radio acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and also
teaches the subject at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.
This book might well fill a gap in the market and save busy actors
a great deal of time in searching for those elusive audition pieces
that will show them in the best light.
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