Re-visiting an old tale

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Many gathered for the staged reading of A Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy last week at UW. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

If you forgot your towel to Thursday, Jan. 16’s staged reading of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t panic. The performance was the brainchild of a collaborative effort between the University of Waterloo’s Drama and Speech Communication program and local Lost and Found Theatre.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time in terms of [performing] a reading of [Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy]. I’ve always liked the story, it was just a matter of figuring out the timing,” said Alan Sapp, narrator of the staged reading.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, is a comic science fiction radio series that was later turned into a novel of the same name.

Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the adventures of Earth resident Arthur Dent as he and his friend Ford Prefect, an alien who is the creator of the book series Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, learn that the world is about to be demolished by the Vogons, an alien race. By hitchhiking their way onto the Vogon ship, they begin an insane adventure throughout the galaxy.

With the storyline and plot calling for otherworldly settings, bringing the series back to its radio roots only made sense for Sapp.

“To me, it’s much more of an audio experience—that’s how I learnt to appreciate it … to me, a reading like that allows the audience to engage their imagination. If we were to try to create Vogons and whatnot, it would be a real challenge,” said Sapp.

“You saw that the actors got involved. [The actors get] physically involved when they’re reading something like that.”

While the original medium of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a radio show, part of the context of the performance may have been lost among audience members. For those unfamiliar with the radio series, it could have come off as a group of talented people doing British accents all night.

Even if that was all you got out of the performance, you could not deny the vocal talents of the cast. James Miniou was a strong choice for the perpetually baffled Arthur Dent—as Sapp put it, he did well because “he had a bit of naiveté that Arthur has.” Derek McGill and Ryan Bassett were also standout performances as they played at least three vastly different characters each.

This performance covered the first three episodes of the original radio series. Though there were no physical props, there were many auditory sound effects and music controlled by Nick Storring.

Sapp has mentioned that there is the possibility of returning for episodes four-to-six.

“We will be talking over whether we want to do episodes four through six. It’s possible that people should stay tuned and we’ll see.”

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