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The Carletonian

“Talk Radio” Slotted for 9th Weekend

<r comprehensive exercise, or “Comps,” is a huge weight on every Carleton senior’s mind. For theater majors, the many resources and people that contribute to one’s Comps show in the pressure-cooker of time that is the Carleton trimester manifest in a very public display of what one’s learned in their time here. This fall we can expect to see Carleton Theater mainstay Andrew Harvey occupy that space in his portrayal of “a kind of cross between Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.”

Harvey, quite a character in his own right, is now in the early stages of rehearsing Eric Bogosian’s “Talk Radio” which he deems a “dark comedy character piece.” Sophomore Ethan Ramsay will direct Harvey in his lead role along with the show’s large supporting cast.

After directing Bogosian’s “Suburbia” last winter, Harvey was drawn to the show for its “tremendous amount of relatability in the modern day, even though it’s set in Cleveland in the 1980s.”

He says, “It’s about sensationalist media and the rise of mainstream media. It’s really same story, different chapter with what we’re looking at today.” People who saw “Suburbia,” Harvey says, “will know what to expect in terms of dialogue. It’s pretty tightly written stuff, which I really like about Begosian.”

As for his role, “Barry Champlain [my character]…likes to get on the air and kind of get people fired up. Sort of challenge, he feels, their preconceived notions about how the world works.”

Ramsay noted the complexity of the interactions between the show’s audience, the radio show listeners, and Champlain, saying, “You’re trying to make people angry. It’s all about the audience. You’re trying to make the audience mad at the listener, or you, but you just want people angry and excited.”

“At the same time,” Harvey said, “he [Champlain] also needs the show as a performative space because he’s not very good with people, ironically. He’s at his best in front of a microphone talking to a total stranger. I feel like it’s pretty fun to watch.”

Both Harvey and Ramsay noted the introspective progression of the show. “What’s so tragic about it is that he’s so good on the radio talking to people, that he starts to realize that he has no relationships with anyone. He doesn’t have any real relationships outside of the people he’s calling for a couple of minutes. That’s what’s so tragic about the character. He finds that he’s meaningless,” explained Ramsay.

As for what the audience can expect, Harvey commented, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be a little bit nauseated, you’ll be kind of strangely aroused.”

Whatever the draw, one thing should be obvious upon seeing “Talk Radio” is the close partnership between Harvey and Ramsey.

“It’s interesting for me, because I have been very clear in my proposal that I am not the director of this project. That’s Ethan, and I’m very happy to have Ethan as a director. He’s smart, he reads the script closely, he picks up on a lot of subtext, which is huge, especially in the early parts of the process when you’re figuring out how scenes really work. So basically he and I sat down, we cast the show and I just kind of cut him loose and he and I talk pretty frequently about my character and then I just make sure that all the pieces are moving in the right direction,” said Harvey.

When asked what it’s like to work with Harvey, Ramsay commented, “I feel like our relationship–even though he’s the actor that’s producing the show and I’m the director– it’s very similar to our relationship when we first met as actors in a show together. We bonded, and our characters were very tight, and I think it’s created this relationship where we listen to each other. He’s a very experienced actor, so he can help me as a director, and likewise, I have known him well enough that I can also be critical.”

In putting together the show, Harvey and Ramsey have an abundance of resources at their disposal. “Comps occupies a sort of gray space between Players, which is run by the theater department, and ETB, which is student-run. My advisor advises, but I can take his advice or leave it. It’s a student-run creative endeavor but because it is a Comps, we get a little more help from the department in certain respects—access to better equipment which will be particularly important for us as we’re looking to build a working radio studio inside the space,” said Harvey.

“We’ve got phenomenal talent all across the board. We’re early in the process right now, but things are going well and I’m excited to see what happens come 9th weekend,” concluded Harvey.

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