Indiana State University Newsroom

‘War of the Worlds’ opens July 13

July 3, 2018

Audiences will go beyond the performance and explore the folklore surrounding "War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" when Crossroads Repertory Theatre opens their final production of the season on July 13. 

"It's an interesting script because most adaptations of ‘War of the Worlds' just tell the story of the Martians landing and that's it," said director Chris Berchild. "That's only half of this script. The other half focuses on the myth and the fallout."

"War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" is based on Orson Welles' radio broadcast in 1938 that is said to have caused a public panic when listeners thought it was real news alerts of an alien attack rather than a performance.

"I've sat with my eyes closed listening to the play and those moments of the aliens landing, the screams and bodies getting crushed it's terrifying. But then you open your eyes and you see its people crinkling paper and creating all these noises that aren't as terrifying as they sound," he said.

Berchild further described the challenges of bringing such an unusual production to life.

"One challenge has been to have a cast that is essentially presenting a radio play. They're playing actors that are playing these characters," Berchild said. "The biggest challenge has been trying to create the sounds of the broadcast in this play. It poses the question what are these objects you find in everyday life that makes the sound of an alien spaceship or machine gun, etc.? So, we take time in rehearsal just trying to find objects that create a close enough analog to the sounds the play calls for."

On the surface, this is a straightforward play about a radio broadcast, but it also unpacks a conspiracy that took place which anticipates the fake news of today. Newspapers and print media were looking for any opportunity to portray the newer technology of radio in an unfavorable light and created the whole myth of the "Panic Broadcast" even though only 2 percent of the radio audience that evening was listening to "War of the Worlds." The coverage exploded for two weeks, then died once it became apparent there was little to no actual evidence of any sort of mass panic.

"Then we get to the end of the broadcast and there is a moment where everything derails, and the play catches up with us in the present," Berchild said. "It shoots us through 80 years and looks at how everything that happed from the 1930s to the ‘fake news' of today - it's all a part of the same animal. It's a tradition of fear that we Americans seem to enjoy."

"War of the Worlds" plays at 7:30 p.m. July 13, 14, 19 and 27 then 4 p.m. July 15 in Indiana State's Dreiser Theater, located on North Sixth Street near Dede Plaza.

Flex passes of four tickets, which are good for any show, are $64 each, and single-production tickets are $16-20 for general admission. For more information about this summer's season or to buy tickets, go to or call the box office at 812-237-3333.


Photos: -- The cast of "War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" rehearses. -- The cast of "War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" rehearses. -- The cast of "War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" rehearses. -- The script for "War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast" is seen.

Media contact: David Marcia, instructor, department of theater, Indiana State University,

Writer: Antonio Turner, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773