Theater Artists Turn Dystopian Sci-Fi Story Into Podcast Performance Series

Courtesy of Word for Word

The Word for Word performing arts company at Z Space, which brings short stories to the stage while staying loyal to both the letter and the spirit of the written work, is turning to podcasting during the pandemic, when audiences aren’t allowed to gather. “WORD for WORDcast,” which turns short stories into podcasts with theatricality and rich sound design, will also be broadcast on the radio station operated by the San Francisco Public Press, KSFP 102.5 FM, on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.

In its first series of podcasts, Word for Word will perform a dystopian science fiction short story written in 1909 called “The Machine Stops.” Gendell Hernandez, a Bay Area-based actor and educator who is directing the series, and JoAnne Winter, cofounder and co artistic director of Word for Word, said the story felt timely and relevant even a year ago when a production team member first brought it to the company for a reading. Now, during a global pandemic, civil rights uprisings and a worsening climate crisis, its central themes — isolation and human complacency — are all the more salient, they said.

“It’s, like, crazy town. To me it’s like theater on steroids. Because it pushes your creativity in every way and so you sort of get into these discussions about who should say the line and how the line should be said so you’re literally creating a new piece, literally as you rehearse it.”

— Gendell Hernandez

A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.