Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air

orson welles eye and I

I am a devoted fan of all things Wellesian. For some time, I have hungered for online audio files of the old Mercury Theatre on the Air radio recordings. A while back, I discovered the wonderful site, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, but was frustrated with the slow download times (to save on bandwidth, the Webmaster explained). However, on a recent return, I was delighted to discover that he now has all of the mp3s for download as a torrent file.

This includes: 45 Campbell's Playhouse productions, all 7 audio-chapters of Les Miserables, 7 Mercury Theatre on the Air productions as mp3s and 10 as RAM files, a short piece on Welles Meets Wells, "a radio special about the Mercury Theatre on the Air hosted by Leonard Maltin, featuring interviews with the surviving members" (which is amazing), a rehearsal of The 39 Steps and a priceless mpeg4 video of the famous all-black Macbeth.

There is also a wealth of excellent information on the Mercury Theatre on the site, including a history and complete show lists.

It is like Christmas.

Other sources:
Laughing Bone Archives: Father Mapple's Sermon
Wikipedia: Orson Welles
Critique Magazine: Orson Welles, the New Deal, and the Mercury Theatre on the Air

Addendum: From the FAQ regarding copyright:

Who owns the copyright on these shows?

Copyright on old radio shows is an extremely hazy area. Nobody seems to know who owns the rights to these broadcasts, and a good argument could be made that they’re public domain. A couple obnoxious individuals over the years have claimed that they own the rights to certain shows and have threatened to sue collectors and webmasters that have made episodes of the shows available. Tellingly, they’ve never actually taken anyone to court, and have only relied on bluster to assert their ownership.

For further exploration of these issues, please see the OTR Law Journal.

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