Steve Hendrickson hopes to bring back the audio drama

Steve Hendrickson hopes to bring back the audio drama
Images courtesy Steve Hendrickson
If patience is a virtue, then Steve Hendrickson is a virtuous man indeed. The local actor -- with credits that stretch across the country -- will unveil a long-in-gestation audio drama project in September, The Man Who Murdered His Mother In Law, via his Audio Visceral Productions.

The germ of the idea for the project goes back a number of years. "I have a modest voice-over career in the Twin Cities, and now -- along with a lot of people -- I do voice-over auditions from home," Hendrickson says. "I have a really acoustically great room at home I was using as a recording studio. I have some very good equipment, and it was sitting idle 95 percent of the time."

As a youth, Hendrickson adored listening to stories on LPs, often in the dark on a lo-fi portable record player his parents had bought for him. Of course, in the modern world you don't need to press anything to vinyl, or cassette, or CD. You just need to get the digital files to a place where people can buy them.

"I looked at public domain stuff, like Edgar Allan Poe, but there are so many available and a lot of them are free. It was not the way to go," Hendrickson says.

The second element came from a production of Jeffrey Hatcher's Murderers that Hendrickson was part of in Cincinnati. The play was made up of three monologues, including "The Man Who Murdered His Mother in Law."

The production "had no props. It was very, very simple storytelling and the audiences were spellbound. As I was doing it I thought, 'This might be even better if all you were doing was hearing it.'"

Hendrickson approached Hatcher and got permission to present the work as an audio drama. The script required very few tweaks to be transferred to an audio-only production. Now it was just a matter of recording.

Easy? Oh no.

"I completely recorded it and then listened to it on really high-end headphones, and there was this static whine that I couldn't get rid of," Hendrickson says. "I went out and bought a much better microphone and recorded the whole thing again."

Along the way, Hendrickson took courses on how to use the needed recording and mixing software --- "I was the oldest person there," he notes -- along with how to use digital distribution.

He produced it on essentially no budget but his own time, which meant he had to find and steal hours to record and mix the drama. He figures he spent at least an hour of work for each minute of the half-hour program. 

The piece will sell for 99 cents on services like iTunes. As the cost of creation was low -- basically the new microphone and founding a company to produce the work -- Hendrickson's point of turning a profit is also fairly low. That makes him confident for future pieces. He has plans to record another one before heading off to Florida to act this fall, and would even like to hire writers to craft original works down the line. 

"It's funny. I've worked on this for the long term and have been bogged down in the minutiae. Then, I finally finished it and played it back. This is not too bad. I would pay a buck to listen to this," he says.

For an audio sample and more information, visit online.

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