Tuesday May 2, 2017

The Writers’ Room

The University of Dayton department of English is giving undergraduate students the opportunity to produce an audio drama podcast series with its innovative course offering, "The Writers’ Room."

More than just a writing class, the Writers’ Room fosters collaboration and experiential learning by putting students in charge of all aspects of creating and producing the podcast series, which uses dialogue, description and sound to tell a compelling story.

Students write, cast, direct, record and produce an entire season of an original audio drama in just a few short months. Currently, they are producing the show’s second series, following the course’s successful first offering during the fall 2016 semester.

“It feels great to see something we’ve all worked so hard on come to fruition,” said Jaclyn Martin, a junior from St. Louis. “As students, we don’t usually get to see our work go beyond the page, so actually getting to record and publish the story we’ve written is such a unique experience.”

The course was inspired by the Dayton Writers Movement, a local production company that created the Unwritten audio drama podcast. The company is dedicated to showcasing the creative talent and vibrancy that exists in the city of Dayton.

Lecturer Christopher Burnside, a co-founder of the Dayton Writers Movement, came up with the concept of the Writers’ Room and designed the course. He provides students with guidance and support throughout the semester-long process. His favorite element of the class is that every aspect of the production is student-driven, from the initial story idea to final execution.

“We really wanted to develop a tradition of producing student-created work,” Burnside said. “There are not a lot of classes like that where the work is going out to the world.”

The pilot series created during fall 2016 fall is entitled The Crossroads. Production notes for the series hint that, “A storm traps a group of strangers in the Crossroads, a local bar. As the mysteries of their past are revealed, so is the sinister nature of the bar itself.” Recording and production for the pilot series are complete, and the department of English will host a premiere party in early fall 2017.

This semester, students are in the process of producing a second series called Off the Record. The teaser for this podcast is, “Reality can be as obvious as a young girl holding a smoking gun in her hand. But when the facts don’t add up, a caring psychiatrist unlocks her secrets and discovers that sometimes the truth is better left off the record.”

Each student enrolled in the course wrote a complete episode for the season, and rehearsals are well underway. Recording is being done during the final week of the semester. Off the Record will be released online in late 2017 or early 2018.

With interest growing, the course’s future appears promising. Burnside is excited about the prospect. “We want to bring awareness to what this class is offering,” he said. “The release of the podcasts will lend identity to the Writers’ Room.”

The Crossroads and Off the Record will be available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

- Delaney Lawrence ’18

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