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The Plot to Overthrow Christmas - Norman Corwin - CBS Radio Workshop

17 Views· 11/25/23
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⁣The Plot to Overthrow Christmas is a radio play written by Norman Corwin and first performed on December 25, 1938.

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The play, a fantasy told entirely in rhyme, begins with a narrative introduction. It proceeds without further narration, but a character named Sotto voce occasionally interrupts with parenthetical footnotes for the audience. Sound effects depict a descent to Hell: a gong, followed by two crashes of thunder; then an electronic hum, first descending, then ascending in pitch; which dissolves into a sustained violin note, which finally turns into a classical cadenza.

The violin is being played by the Roman emperor Nero, whose playing is interrupted by a courier summoning him to an urgent meeting called by the Devil, Mephistopheles. Mephisto explains to an assembly including Nero, Ivan the Terrible, the Biblical Haman, the Roman emperor Caligula, the Borgias, and Simon Legree, that he is concerned about the thwarting of his efforts to corrupt humanity, by the peace and good will generated by the Christmas holiday. He solicits proposals to deal with the matter. First, Caligula suggests poisoning Christmas foods and candies.

Next, Nero suggests corrupting sacred Christmas music by converting it to jazz style, as has been done to classical music. Then Legree suggests bribing the US Congress to outlaw Christmas, but Mephisto points out the uncertainty of depending on corrupt politicians, who could just as easily be turned the other way. Finally, Lucrezia Borgia suggests assassinating Santa Claus, a deed she is anxious to do herself. Mephisto puts the proposals to a vote, and Borgia's plan wins. Nero is then chosen by lottery as the assassin.

The CBS Radio Workshop was an experimental dramatic radio anthology series that aired on CBS from January 27, 1956, until September 22, 1957. Subtitled “radio’s distinguished series to man’s imagination,” it was a revival of the earlier Columbia Experimental Laboratory (1931), Columbia Experimental Dramatic Laboratory (1932) and Columbia Workshop broadcasts by CBS from 1936 to 1943, and used some of the same writers and directors employed on the earlier series. The CBS Radio Workshop was one of American network radio's last attempts to hold on to, and perhaps recapture, some of the demographics they had lost to television in the post-World War II era.

The premiere broadcast was a two-part adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, introduced and narrated by Huxley. (Wikipedia)

Originally Broadcast 12/22/1940

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