WTBU drama’s final episode tomorrow, and an invasion
How do you make a zombie? See the slideshow above. Slideshow by Amy Laskowski. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky
Don’t panic tomorrow if you encounter a horde of soulless, flesh-eating zombies lumbering toward you along Commonwealth Avenue. They’ll be fakes—actors in makeup, a live-action sideshow to publicize tomorrow night’s climactic conclusion of WTBU’s radio drama Undead End.
In case you’ve missed it, the thriller about a zombie apocalypse has been airing every Thursday throughout October. This monthlong Halloween gift was inspired by Orson Welles, who famously mounted a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938. Some listeners tuning in that night mistook the program’s fictitious news bulletins of a Martian invasion as real, resulting in hundreds of worried calls to police and a few panicked flights from the invaders’ supposed path.
Welles has an admirer in Nate Goldman (COM’11), who this fall launched the radio performance department at WTBU, the University’s student-run radio station. He scripted Undead End as its first show. “I always thought Orson Welles’ performance and his idea to simulate actual news broadcasts was 70 years ahead of its time,” says Goldman. Where Welles trafficked in extraterrestrials, Goldman’s love is extraterra corpses. “To me, zombies are arguably the coolest science fiction monsters of all time,” he says. “They are the quintessential example of our humanity becoming devoid of anything that resembles a human.”
Goldman also found inspiration in his favorite comic book, The Walking Dead, which details a zombie apocalypse. A controversy over a proposed Boston Medical Center biolab further shaped the science fiction show’s plot, in which lab research gone awry spawns the zombies.
To say that the series has consumed the COM senior is an understatement. Goldman has pursued the show as relentlessly as his monsters munch their victims, developing it over the last two years and involving 40 people, almost all students, in acting, marketing, makeup, and other tasks.
“It’s definitely more than just a Halloween treat,” says Chris Nolan (CGS’11), who plays the zombie-making doctor. Awed by the amount of work that the project has demanded, Nolan says Undead End has been a life-changing experience. “This has totally opened up a new area of interest for me,” he says. He thinks radio is “a great career. It’s a really fun, relaxed atmosphere, and the recording sessions are always a good time.”
Unlike Goldman, Nolan is not a science fiction enthusiast. But, he says, “I think zombies occupy their own niche, one that extends pretty far into common culture. While not everyone has seen Night of the Living Dead, most people have enjoyed something involving zombies, ’cause they’re awesome and hilarious.”
Hilarious? Maybe, but in Undead End, the emphasis is not yucks, but yikes: the frightfulness of zombies. The drama touches on some serious, real-life issues, such as corporate malfeasance and the dangers of reckless genetic engineering. It has also provided real-life career training to folks like public relations major Allison McDonough (COM’11), who designed a pamphlet and poster for the show and hopes to practice event management, another PR duty, by managing tomorrow’s zombie crowd. “The more I do now, the better I’ll be at my job once I’m done with college,” she says.
Goldman graduates in May, but he hopes these interactive radio performances become a yearly ritual. “We want people to realize that WBTU isn’t just about playing music,” he says. “It’s about talk shows, sports, and radio dramas.”
He didn’t have a final, er, body count on tomorrow’s zombie army. Makeup artists will be ready at about 3 p.m. across from One University Road to prepare the actors. At 5, the apocalypse will be unleashed. The concluding episode airs at 7:30.
Listen to previous episodes of Undead End here.
Rich Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments