The legacy of The Mercury Theater on the Air’s War of the Worlds



October 1938 was a time when fear and anxiety was an undercurrent in the United States – the country was still in a deep, economic depression, Hitler had just invaded Czechoslovakia, and the planet Mars and its Martians were in the popular culture. Many people couldn’t afford telephones and other domestic comforts but a radio was in most homes. This year marks the 75th anniversary of The Mercury Theater on the Air’s Halloween Eve radio broadcast adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds. Director Orson Welles and company created a short-lived panic throughout the country for some listeners who thought the show about an Alien invasion was real. The fictitious alien landing was supposed to be near Princeton, N.J., in Grovers Mill. We’ll discuss the epic event with LAURENCE MASLON, Arts professor at the Graduate Acting Program at NYU and NATHAN GABRIEL, assistant professor of acting and directing at the University of Louisiana.

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