Radio Star at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Tanya O'Debra in Radio Star. Photo credit: Molly Broxton

Tanya O’Debra in Radio Star. Photo credit: Molly Broxton

Radio Star by Tanya O’Debra
August 11 – 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 at Venue #7: The Yardbird Suite
More information: tanyaodebra.com


An interview with Tanya O’Debra. 

Describe your show in five words.

Filthy 1940s detective radio play.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Watch (but mainly listen) as Tanya O’Debra lends her voice to ten characters while staging live Foley sounds effects in this filthy, filthy dirty 1940s radio detective spoof. When a wealthy client hires Private Dick Nick McKittrick to find her husband’s killer, she learns that he will literally stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. Just like the golden age of radio. Only much, much dirtier.

Radio Star is a radio play – why choose that format to tell this story?

I actually chose the format before I chose the story. I wanted to write a solo show that didn’t require a ton of costumes and props so I could travel with it. Well, that really backfired, because even though I only need one costume, I need so many props to create the soundscape. But as I listened to old time radio for research, I really got stuck on the detective stories. Not only were they really enjoyable plot-wise, they were a real goldmine for comedy. I wrote this show in 2009 before we were really using the term “toxic masculinity”, but that is what the genre is really about. So, the format supporting the story was really just a happy accident.

You’ve written and performed theatre plays in the past as well – what do you like about how radio plays are different than traditional theatre?

If we’re being super honest, it’s a zillion times cheaper to produce a radio play than it is to produce a full theater production. I am the producer of this show, and sadly my pockets are very shallow. But making RADIO STAR has changed my approach to my entire theater practice. Sound is so visceral, and it’s become a huge element in all my work. It’s also really nice to be freed from physical restrictions. You can do anything in radio as long as you can come up with a convincing sound. I can be any gender, any physicality. I can have any set element I like. Giant helicopter? No problem. Suck it, Broadway!

In your biography, you say you’ve “spread mirth and filth all over NYC”. What drew you (and keeps you coming back) to these genres?

I’m a disgusting pig and I can’t help myself.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

People are often really surprised by the content of the show. I know I look like a nice lady, but this sweet face is going to say a lot of dirty words. This mouth is like a reverse toilet. Let’s get disgusting together.

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Tickets go on sale August 3 at noon and will be available at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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