What’s a theater company to do when it can’t fill its live stage venue due to COVID? If you’re the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, you go a little old-school. The award-winning company has channeled the golden age of radio with its audio play series, Of Spacious Skies. And the format makes a perfect pairing with its content: 12 fictional episodes converging around Pikes Peak to span the past, present and future of Colorado Springs.
“I have always had a deep love for the golden age of radio, and as we were thinking about what kinds of theatrical fare we could make during this socially spacious time, I’m thrilled that this project has come to fruition,” said Producing Artistic Director Scott Levy in a press release. “It is a dream to work with this diverse and extraordinary team of writers, the dozens of actors that will be in the episodes and other related artists. To make something new and fresh, as well as being able to offer creative and financial opportunities to a wide net of theatre artists is a dream come true.”
The series kicks off in the summer of 1893 as the first episode, “Beautiful,” tells the story of Katherine Lee Bates’ journey to Colorado Springs and how she came to write the poem that would become “America the Beautiful” from the top of Pikes Peak.
Episode two, “Expedition Log,” delivers a comedic parody of today’s social media-centric adventure culture by following trail bro Zeb Pike on his historic, notoriously epic attempt to bag the grand peak that bears his name.
Other episodes include the story of a father and son’s relationship with the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (and one another), an encounter during a Black Lives Matter protest, the parable of a benevolent dragon and more.
More than 100 Colorado-based actors auditioned for roles in Of Spacious Skies. The writing team is led by award-winning playwright Mêlisa Annis. She is joined by Jonathan Andujar, Mickey Burdick, Marisa D. Hébert, Jessica Kahkoska, Jess Weaver, and Xochitl Portillo.
While the acting and dialogue is all done by audio, there is a visual companion for each episode. Members of the FAC Theatre team use historical photos, illustrations and other video elements to complement the audio drama. The added dimension is free for the first episode, and the complete visual series may be purchased for $25 and streamed through Broadway on Demand.
The audio episodes are free and available through major podcast platforms and on the FAC website. Those who donate $25 or more in support of the production receive a commemorative CD set of the entire series. New episodes are released every Thursday through Dec. 17, but FAC subscribers receive advance access two weeks early.
The audio series spans October’s Arts Month, but its historical and insightful narratives will make it relevant far beyond.
Of Spacious Skies
New episodes of the audio play series air weekly Sept. 17 – Dec. 17. Get the complete schedule and all details at fac.coloradocollege.edu.