Orson Welles honored with 2015 Norman Corwin Legacy Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre upon the 100th anniversary of his birth.
May 3, 2015
When people today think of the so-called “Golden Age of Radio Theatre” from 1930-1962, there is no American name more famous than Orson Welles. His all-too-innovative adaptation of H. G. Wells' War Of The Worlds in 1938 taught the nation a valuable lesson, and became part of American history, but Welles' contributions to the art of audio theatre go far beyond that.
After a memorable season starring as Lamont Cranston, The Shadow (with Agnes Moorehead as his leading lady), Welles and John Houseman were hired by CBS in 1938 to bring their acclaimed Mercury Theatre productions from the stage to the airwaves. The Mercury Theatre On The Air presented many brilliant adaptations of great plays by great playwrights, from William Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw. The company was a stellar ensemble. Along with Welles and Moorehead, players included Ray Collins, Joseph Cotten, Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Vincent Price, Mary Wickes, and Everett Sloane. Their work continued for several seasons as The Campbell Playhouse.
In 1942, Welles produced and hosted Hello Americans, a special radio series devoted to our neighbor nations in Central and South America. It was created at the request of Nelson Rockefeller, then Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, to foster inter-American understanding and friendship during World War II. Welles also produced Ceiling Unlimited, a series saluting the aviation industry, and his work was considered to have made a significant contribution to the war effort.
Welles' restless drive for both innovation and perfection expanded the horizons of American audio theatre. The high quality of his productions brought critical acclaim and exposed millions to great literature. He also worked with Norman Corwin, whom he deeply admired: Welles was featured in several of Corwin's most important works, including Between Americans (broadcast on December 7, 1941, the evening of the attack on Pearl Harbor), New York: A Tapestry For Radio, We Hold These Truths, Corwin's history-making celebration of the Bill of Rights, and 14 August, the special broadcast marking V-J Day and the end of the Second World War.
The Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre was established by the National Audio Theatre Festivals in 2010, on Mr. Corwin's 100th birthday, and the first award was presented to Corwin on that occasion. Norman Corwin is considered the Grand Master of American Audio Theatre for his work over more than half a century for CBS, the United Nations, and National Public Radio. The Award is announced each year on Corwin's birthday, May 3, and given to an American who has established an outstanding lifetime achievement in the art of audio theatre, regardless of media. It is intended to recognize that person's talents and accomplishments, and to bring attention to the art form itself, as practiced in the United States.
The Award is presented at the annual HEARNow! Audio Fiction and Arts Festival in Kansas City, Missouri, which will be held June 11-14, 2015. Previous winners, after Corwin, have been Tom Lopez, Yuri Rasovsky, The Firesign Theatre (Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor), and Charles Potter. The 2015 Award honors the life work of Erik Bauersfeld, founder and director of Bay Area Radio Drama in California.
In 2014, the Corwin Award Committee also established the Norman Corwin Legacy Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre, given to honor an outstanding contributor to the art who is no longer living. The first Legacy Award was given to Himan Brown, and the Committee is especially pleased this year to be able to honor Orson Welles on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sue Zizza firstname.lastname@example.org
President, National Audio Theatre Festivals
Charles Potter email@example.com
Corwin Award Committee