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Today in Lansing: 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' 1954 radio version at Robin Theatre


Audio Air Force

7 to 8:30 p.m.


The Robin Theatre

1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

Click here for event page

FRIDAY, Jan. 18 — Audio Air Force is giving the 1954 Cold War anxiety science fiction film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” an old-time radio makeover, complete with live sound effects and local actors.

Founded in 2014, Audio Air Force is a committed production company of sound effects artists and audio theater enthusiasts. It has done everything from recreations of “Superman” serials to “Casablanca.”

Audio theater is making a comeback, Audio Air Force founder Dave Downing said. As a former instructor at LCC, Downing participated in the medium for 30 years.

“All these concepts are a part of what still goes on in TV shows, movies and video games. The things pioneered in the ‘30s and ‘40s are still being done today.”

Movie studios would release these radio scripts after the film debuts, much like how films come out on demand months after their release, Downing said.

“They would even get the stars from the movie to play their characters on radio.”

Among the film’s most emblematic set pieces was the flying saucer and creative audio solutions will bring the craft to life.

“We needed the sound of a flying saucer, so I took a kids toy — a long plastic tube with ribs on it — and both of our sound effects people whirl them around at different speeds for sound effects.”

Another scene requiring a special live sound effect is a fight between characters, he added.

“We use a crash box which is a wooden cigar box with different things in it. When shaken up, it sounds like people are running into furniture fighting.”

Getting things sounding right requires a lot of trial and error.

“The sound of a ‘40s camera has a very distinctive pop with its flash bulbs,” Downing said. “We ended up using snack sized plastic bags blown up, sealed and popped with a pin. One person popped them with a pin and the other held ten bags.”

Audio theater helps people reconnect with their imagination in such a visual heavy society, Downing said.

“When people are watching the performance, it isn't what you’re seeing but what you’re hearing. It is theater of the mind.”

For more information, visit www.audioairforce.com

More events in Lansing:

Guilty Pleasure Karaoke

9 p.m. to 2 a.m., The Avenue Cafe, 2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

“Capturing Stillness” Opening Reception

5:30 to 8 p.m., Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, 119 N. Washington Sq., Ste. 101, Lansing


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