The War of the Worlds

In 1898 H.G. Wells wrote The War of the Worlds, a dramatic novel about a Martian invasion of our planet. A century later, the French magazine Le Monde listed it as one of the 100 most important books of the 20th century; it was the oldest work on the list. The novel has had a profound influence on the genre of science fiction, inspiring countless writers and engaging generations of readers around the world. The story has been adapted for film and television, most notably Steven Spielberg’s 2005 Hollywood blockbuster.

The most famous and controversial adaptation of the novel was made not for television or the screen, but for radio. The director, Orson Welles (whose name, coincidently, was almost the same as H.G. Wells), produced it for the American network CBS. He chose to broadcast it on October 30, 1938, the day of the fictional invasion in the book. He presented his play as a live news report (Welles himself played the role of a reporter). Many listeners believed that an alien invasion was actually taking place, causing panic throughout the United States.

The radio production brought Orson Welles worldwide fame as well problems with the authorities. It was the first time people realized the enormous power of mass media. The radio play showed how reality can be manipulated and how it can influence a large part of the population. This phenomenon is very familiar to us today, a hundred years later. And with the development of social media and artificial intelligence, society seems to be increasingly defenseless against it.

Join us as we explore a world where it is almost impossible to tell what is fiction and what is reality. A world where things may not be what they seem. Our world.

In the media:

“For as long as I can remember, Drak Theatre has been able to (metaphorically) squeeze the entire universe into one hour. They do this while maintaining a sense of playfulness and are masters of surprise.  Their latest show, which premiered last Saturday, is one of their best productions – a riveting, multi-layered version of The War of the Worlds.”

Petr Mareček, MF DNES, 13.05.2024

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