Need Something More than Video? Listen to Orson Welles Mercury Theatre of the Air

There is an impressive collection radio broadcasts from Orson Welle’s Mercury Theatre of the air at MercuryTheatre.info. Besides the famous War of the Worlds broadcast the Mercury Theatre aired productions of many others including Les Miserables, Dracula, Tale of Two Cities and more.  The site even includes a 1940 discussion between HG Wells and Orson Welles!

The finest radio drama of the 1930’s was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. In its brief run, it featured an impressive array of talents, including Agnes Moorehead, Bernard Herrmann, and George Coulouris. The show is famous for its notorious War of the Worlds broadcast, but the other shows in the series are relatively unknown.

The show first broadcast on CBS and CBC in July 1938. It ran without a sponsor until December of that year, when it was picked up by Campbell’s Soup and renamed The Campbell Playhouse.

Mercury Theatre

Dracula (July 11, 1938)
Treasure Island (July 18, 1938)
A Tale of Two Cities (July 25, 1938)
The 39 Steps (August 1, 1938)
Three Short Stories: I’m a Fool, The Open Window, and My Little Boy (August 8, 1938)
Abraham Lincoln (August 15, 1938)
The Affairs of Anatol (August 22, 1938)
The Count of Monte Cristo (August 29, 1938)
The Man Who Was Thursday (September 5, 1938)
The Immortal Sherlock Holmes (September 25, 1938)
Hell on Ice (October 9, 1938)
Seventeen (October 16, 1938)
Around the World in 80 Days (October 23, 1938)
The War of the Worlds (October 30, 1938)
Heart of Darkness / Life with Father (November 6, 1938)
A Passenger to Bali (November 13, 1938)
The Pickwick Papers (November 20, 1938)
Rebecca (December 9, 1938)
A Christmas Carol (December 23, 1938)
Counselor-at-Law (January 6, 1939)
Mutiny on the Bounty (January 13, 1939)
I Lost My Girlish Laughter (January 27, 1939)
Arrowsmith (February 3, 1939)
The Green Goddess (February 10, 1939)
The Glass Key (March 10, 1939)
Beau Geste (March 17, 1939)
Showboat (March 31, 1939)
The Patriot (April 14, 1939)
Private Lives (April 21, 1939)
Wickford Point (May 5, 1939)
Our Town (May 12, 1939)
The Bad Man (May 19, 1939)
Things We Have (May 26, 1939)
Victoria Regina (June 2, 1939)
Peter Ibbetson (September 10, 1939)
Ah, Wilderness (September 17, 1939)
What Every Woman Knows (September 24, 1939)
The Count of Monte Cristo (October 1, 1939)
Algiers (October 8, 1939)
Escape (October 15, 1939)
Liliom (October 22, 1939)
The Magnificent Ambersons (October 29, 1939)
The Hurricane (November 5, 1939)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (November 12, 1939)
The Garden of Allah (November 19, 1939)
Dodsworth (November 26, 1939)
Lost Horizon (December 3, 1939)
Venessa (December 10, 1939)
There’s Always a Woman (December 17, 1939)
A Christmas Carol (December 24, 1939)
Vanity Fair (January 7, 1940)
Theodora Goes Wild (January 14, 1940)
The Citadel (January 21, 1940)
It Happened One Night (January 28, 1940)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (February 11, 1940)
Dinner at Eight (February 18, 1940)
Only Angels Have Wings (February 25, 1940)
Rabble in Arms (March 3, 1940)
Craig’s Wife (March 10, 1940)
Huckleberry Finn (March 17, 1940)
June Moon (March 24, 1940)

Rehearsals

The 39 Steps (August 1, 1938)
Julius Caesar (September 11, 1938)

Miscellaneous / Related

Les Miserables
(This seven-episode series was written, produced, and directed by Orson Welles for the Mutual Network in 1937. While not an official Mercury Theatre
production, it featured many of the Mercury Players, including Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, and Everett Sloane.)

Episode 1: The Bishop (July 23, 1937)
Episode 2: Javert (July 30, 1937)
Episode 3: The Trial (August 6, 1937)
Episode 4: Cosette (August 13, 1937)
Episode 5: The Grave (August 20, 1937)
Episode 6: The Barricade (August 27, 1937)
Episode 7: Conclusion (September 3, 1937)

H.G. Wells Meets Orson Welles (October 28, 1940)
(A short conversation between the two men, originally broadcast on KTSA San Antonio.)

Theatre of the Imagination (1988)
(A radio special about the Mercury Theatre on the Air hosted by Leonard Maltin, featuring interviews with the surviving members.)
Video

Macbeth (excerpt from We Work Again) (1936)
(The only surviving footage from Welles and Houseman’s first stage production, a version of Macbeth set in Haiti with an all-black cast.)

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