First ever Loughborough College live radio play is out of this world

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A live recording inspired by the radio play of international phenomenon The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been presented for the first time by Loughborough College.

Don’t Panic saw performing arts students recreate a studio theatre experience for an audience in the College’s theatre with their homage to Douglas Adams’ science fiction comedy, originally broadcast by the BBC in 1978 and since adapted into stage shows, comics, a TV series, a computer game and a feature film, starring Martin Freeman as well as novels translated into more than 30 languages.

The 13-strong cast each took two roles for a demanding performance involving close to 200 cues and a range of sound effects to give a flavour of the story of Earth’s destruction and the rescue of the last survivor who is rescued and heads out into the galaxy, after hitchhiking onto a spacecraft.

Emma Ledsam, Creative Arts lead at Loughborough College said: “Tackling a live radio play was a first for the College. We like to play to our students’ strengths – and this group have shown a particular talent for comedy. We also like to take them out of their comfort zone to broaden their skills.

“The challenge of performing a live radio broadcast was always a big ask but the students certainly rose to the challenge.

“Each of the students spent a long time listening to audio books as well as television adverts and a range of animation voiceovers, analyzing how character and action are created through voice performance.

“This was followed by lots of rehearsal, including a sound recording in our professional music studio, which everyone enjoyed so much that many of our students have started thinking about widening their skills in audio performance.

“We set up Don't Panic to be performed either side of an interval in our theatre with an audience, as the BBC often do and used sound effects – many of them created live on stage.

“It demonstrated how far many of the students have come, blending the techniques of radio play with the demands of working with a live audience – who laughed throughout, particularly at the character who is suddenly turned into a penguin!”

“We were thrown in at the deep end with Don’t Panic – but definitely in a good way,” added Performing Arts student Holly Baird, 18, who lives in Loughborough.

“We all started by saying, We can’t do this, and quickly realized, actually we can.

“At first you feel really self conscious wearing a headset and hearing your own voice but then you just focus on the great script and putting as much into your voice performance as you can.

“We have all really enjoyed working on this radio play. It has definitely given me more confidence as a performer and it was great to be able to show our families and friends the opportunities we’re getting on our course to really step up, be versatile and show our potential.

“I am hoping to be offered a place at acting school but I have really high expectations for where I go next because I’ve been so happy at Loughborough College.”

Pictured: Some of the Loughborough College cast at rehearsals for live radio play ‘Don’t Panic’ (left to right) Beccie-Mae Hales, Holly Baird, Mary Brewin, Derri Bailey, Kayleigh Dennis and Lizzie Hinds

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