When Royalty Free Radio Hour first envisioned “The Brain of Dr. Delgado,” the inaugural episode of their "In the Dark" series, it would have incorporated suggestions and participation from a live audience. Then came COVID-19.
The all-improvised original radio play was written by members of Defiant Monkey Improv, Karen Eichler and Andrew Spragge.
“The program came to life through a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts administered by the Arts Service Initiative of Western New York,” Eichler said, “but without a live audience we needed to improvise – which is of course what we’re great at!”
Spragge added, “A friend volunteers at the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service and recommended we talk with them. They had just added the internet to their broadcast platform, enabling listeners who are blind or have a print disability to access their programs online as well as on-air.”
“So not only do we get to share this suspense thriller with a wonderful audience, we get to take advantage of the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service’s technology to make the program available to thousands of people, wherever they may be!”
Michael Benzin, executive director of the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service, likes both the change of pace and the local impact of the partnership.
“Nearly all our programs feature newspapers, magazines, books and other printed publications being read by volunteers," Benzin said. "We know our listeners value this service, but the inclusion of a new radio play on our playlist will bring them something exciting and a little different.
"It also allows us to show off our new live streaming and podcasting capabilities and introduce new listeners to our service.”
The nonprofit Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service has been serving people who are blind, have low vision, or have other print disabilities that make holding a book or turning a page difficult for more than 30 years.
Defiant Monkey Improv is a two-person improvisational group that creates on-the-spot theatre based on audience suggestions and participation. Performers Karen Eichler and Andrew Spragge are experienced improvisers, actors, professional development specialists, and teaching artists who love to have as much fun as possible. They are the authors of the book "The 5 Elements of Improv: How to Take Your Improv to the Next Level."
“The Brain of Dr. Delgado” will air live several times next week, including Halloween.
- Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 26 & 27 at 8 a.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m.
- Thursday and Friday, Oct. 29 & 30 at 11 a.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.
A livestream will be available through the agency’s website, www.nfradioreading.org, for listeners without the special reading radio.
For those that can’t wait or want to listen on their own schedule, a podcast of the show is available on-demandthrough both the website and many popular podcast players like Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher. The service is also available on smart phones through the Seros or Zeno apps as well as through Amazon and Google smart speakers.
Karen Eichler began performing improvisation with ComedySportz in 1997, graduated from The Second City Toronto and has performed on stages across the country. She has also performed with a script in shows such as Annie the Musical, and as Madame Thenardier in "Les Miserables" and has been a children’s show performer and storyteller since 2000. Eichler has a master’s degree in Education and has been a university professor since 1997, most recently teaching Public Speaking and College Writing.
Andrew Spragge began improvising in 2005 with ComedySportz, and has been acting and directing since 1982. He has been seen in various productions over the years including as Daddy Warbucks in "Annie," and Monsieur Thenardier in "Les Miserables." An accomplished actor, director, children’s show performer and corporate trainer, Spragge is also a graphic designer and worked as a middle school Science and Math teacher. Currently, he is a Mission Commander at the Challenger Learning Center in Lockport.