Late Night WTF Event

The late night tradition continues with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Phase 3: Life, The Universe and Everything. March 29 and 30, 2019 in Studio 217; 217 South Michigan. Begins at 10am. An elaborate staged reading with an enhanced intermission.

On March 8, 1978, the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show broadcasted. Written by Douglas Adams, the show originally aired on BBC Radio 4. After only a few episodes, they had already accumulated a cult following. BBC World Service, NPR, and CBC Radio picked it up and from there it spread like wildfire.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the show follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, an Englishman, and Ford Prefect, an alien who writes for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We join Arthur and Ford right after the Earth has been destroyed by a Vogon constructor fleet that is making way for a hyperspace bypass. They escaped the demolition by hitching a ride on a passing Vogon spaceship. From there, their story really begins.

What on Earth (or in the Galaxy?) lead to Adams writing this story? The idea came to him while he was hitchhiking from London to Istanbul with a stolen copy of Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe. According to Adams:

“I got frantically depressed in Innsbruck … When the stars came out I thought that someone ought to write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because it looked a lot more attractive out there than it did around me.”

So what made The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so noteworthy? Outside of how absolutely hilarious and well written the show is, it revolutionized the audio entertainment industry.

It was the first BBC radio comedy produced using stereophonic techniques. Before the show aired, it was thought to be impossible to use stereo for a radio comedy. After it aired, it became mandatory.

In 1978, the technology for mixing sound was very limited. Adams’ studio had only one eight-track tape recorder so many of the effects in the show had to be mixed live. To do that, they had to set up tape loops of background sound throughout the studio and play them while the actors talked.

For actors whose voices needed to be edited in post (to sound like an alien or robot, for example), they had to be recorded separately from the ‘human’ characters.

Supposedly, Stephen Moore, who played Marvin the Android, recorded his performance in a cupboard and didn’t meet any of the other actors in person until after the first recording session was complete.

But no matter the details of how the show was recorded, each 30-minute episode was revolutionary in its use of music and sound effects. It changed how we do radio, pushed the limits of audio storytelling, and remains an inspiration to all of us in the industry.

Acting Ensemble presents the third adaptation by Geoff Trowbridge, based on the radio plays.  To get your tickets now, click on

Directed by Geoff Trowbridge and featuring Angie Berkshire, Michael Clarkson, Kevin James, Brad Mazick, Amberly Nichols, Russell Pluta, Preston Reddell, Bill Svelmoe and Mark Torma.

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