The playwright whom the late, great Studs Terkel once dubbed “the bard of Radio’s Golden Age” is celebrating his centennial natal anniversary today…and on behalf of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, I would personally like to wish him a happy 100th and many more to come.
Corwin breathed life into so many great radio works. The Undecided Molecule. The Plot to Overthrow Christmas. We, the People. We Hold These Truths. These productions and countless more raised radio to a higher level and a new theatrical form, and anyone familiar with these visionary works is indeed richer for having made their acquaintance; he is without question the embodiment of “the theater of the mind.” To quote Mr. Corwin:
There are a great many contributing elements to the art of radio. I use the word art very consciously and deliberately. The eye is such a realist. The eye is really the infantile organ. The eye has to be entertained in a way the ear doesn’t. Chases, automobiles hurtling from rooftop to rooftop, the obligatory mayhem that you see on TV—action! Action! Whereas the ear is a refined sense. It is through the ear, after all, that we perceive the sublimest of the arts, which is music. We don’t see the Beethoven Ninth.
In conclusion, I echo the sentiments of director Robert Altman who once observed: “Anything I know about drama today comes more from Norman Corwin than anybody.”