(Last update: March 21, 2023)
Brad Forenza is an award-winning singer/songwriter based in New York. His artistic style combines observational humor and existential contemplation. Brad’s original films include: Arlene’s Awakening, BreakpointsAnd The Lady Yang. His plays have been presented in New York and Los Angeles. He is the author of over 100 articles, editorials and speeches. His anthologized publications include: The public figure songbook (a concept album), Regan Babies (a collection of personal essays), long ways home (plays in one act), and thumbnails (a collection of short pieces including Around the Sun, an episodic audio drama). As an actor, Brad has appeared in roles for all media. www.AuthenticallyBrad.com
Recently We are entertainment news spoke to Forenza, the series creator of the multi-nominated audio drama, Around the Sun.
Hi Brad! Thanks for chatting with We are entertainment news!
Hi, Kenyan! Thank you and your readers for having me and for your willingness to present our episodic audio drama, Around the Sun!
Of course! Can you tell our readers about Around the Sun? What is “episodic audio drama?”
Well… you can think of an “episodic audio drama” as a series of modern radio plays, made up of individual episodes tied together by common themes. Around the Sun‘s specialty is human relations, made and failed. So all our episodes – comic and tragic – come back to this notion. I’m the writer/creator of the series, so all stories – for better or for worse – originate in my brain, long before they reach the lips of our pro set or the ears of our awesome listeners. I welcome readers of We are entertainment news to join us “wherever they listen to podcasts” and through our website, www.AroundTheSunPodcast.com.
Around the Sun was recently nominated for several Independent Series Awards. What does it do?
It’s awesome ! On the face of it, the distribution of work is reward enough, but those peer recognitions/award nominations are often the proverbial icing on the cake. The Independent Series Awards, in particular, are a massive event. They honor and celebrate “the best in independently produced entertainment created for the web”. Our second season was recently nominated in three of their audio drama categories: Best Writing (for me), Best Actress (for Mindy Cohn) and Best Ensemble, for all actors who appear in season two: Adassa (Encanto), Caroline Aaron (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life), Richard Kind (Inside Out), Richard Kline (Three’s Company), Jennie Kwan (Avatar: The Last Air Bender), Piper Laurie (The Hustler) , Taylor Purdee (Killian and the Comeback Kids), Bruce Vilanch (Hollywood Squares) and me.
What are some of your early experiences with audio dramas? How did you discover this medium?
Regarding knowledge of radio plays (the precursor to scripted podcasts and audio dramas): I grew up with a strong influence from my grandparents, so references to The shadow And Mercury Theater Live percolated throughout my growth. I knew “audio drama” was once a popular storytelling medium, although its heyday was before my time.
So what inspired you to create for a seemingly “lost” medium?
Well, I used the early days of the pandemic and social distancing to reconceptualize some plays I had written into audio dramas. And thanks to the good graces and generous spirit of a few creative mentors (Marsha Mason, Vincent Pastore, Austin Pendleton, Maureen Van Zandt), I was able to produce these first pieces with a visible, sought-after professional talent, entirely in the style of the radio plays that my grandparents invoked so often. And in the spirit of Orson Wells and Mercury Theater on the Air, our recently completed Season 2 even features an alien invasion (specifically, aliens played by three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie and me)!
Even though the quarantine is behind us, you have chosen to continue with the dramatic audio support. Can you tell us more about this decision?
I think “audio drama” chose me. The compulsion to create (to create anything, really!) didn’t go away just because the pandemic hit, and my generative work had to stop. While I pivoted to the audio drama medium due to the painful realities that social distancing has imposed on all of us, I never imagined the pivot – and the project that Around the Sun became – would give my written work renewed purpose and visibility. I love what I create and, despite the demands that come with increased exposure, I’m not ready to give up on the project just yet.
How is audio drama more effective in helping you tell your stories compared to traditional media?
One of the many things I really, really love about audio drama is its ability to compel the audience to use their own imaginations to help “illustrate” each episode. Our listeners are regularly empowered to create visuals for themselves, based on their interpretations of the stories. For example, in episode 2.8 (with Caroline Aaron and Richard Kline), an estranged couple reunites “after the apocalypse”. The “apocalypse” is mostly a metaphor (spoiler alert), but – in this aural medium, and through the use of suggestive language and apocalyptic sound effects – I could play with the audience’s expectations of the character concrete or abstract of the apocalypse. (a bit like Jabberwoky from Alice in Wonderland). I don’t think I could get away with that kind of mistrust in a more visual medium like film or television, where the visual should be stated for an audience and not open to interpretation.
Can you explain what Around the SunDoes the tagline of, “We are never alone…even though it seems like the opposite is often true,” mean to you?
Of course! This is a line of dialogue spoken in episode 1.6 (“Apothecary”) from a character played by BD Wong to a character played by Christine Nagy. Without revealing too much, the character of Ms. Nagy perceives herself as frozen. So stuck, in fact, that she might perceive Mr. Wong’s character (as a proxy for the whole world) as “looking for her.” She misinterprets her good intentions which, once carried out, could well save her from a new downward spiral. There’s a lot going on in their episode (there are many layers below the surface) and to that end I think the quote is a great ambassador for our Around the Sun brand.
Would you describe the podcast as fiction? If so, what makes fiction powerful?
Our podcast is scripted and our amazing cast members help perform the roles that have been written or adapted for them. Then yes… Around the Sun is fictional and generates – first – from an idea in my mind (a pretty nice place to grow and develop). Sometimes stories can be inspired by something I was aware of, or an idea I found fascinating… but what makes Around the Sun powerful, I think, is his ability to step back, without taking sides or appearing too bossy. We’re not here to tell people what to think. Its not my style. Around the Sun leaves its takeaway to our listeners, because that’s what art should do: reflect the world it sees and let the audience draw their own conclusions. We accomplish all of this in 10-15 minute episodes.
how about done Around the Sun special?
Well, think of those 10-15 minute economic episodes! Around the Sun is perfectly consumable on a commute to work, a stroll around the block, or a trip to the grocery store. I also think audio dramas are special in the podcast landscape, as most (but not all) seem to be based on interviews. Finally, our incredible set is quite special. They bring credo, attention and welcome smiles to our audience. Around the SunThe first season of won two awards at the Cutting Room International Short Film Festival 2021, including one for its voice acting ensemble: David Alan Basche (Exes), Joanna Bonaro (Good ‘n fucked up), Dolores Catania (Real Housewives of NJ), Francois Clemmons (Mr. Rogers neighborhood), Lily Cooper (spring awakening), Veanne Cox (THE Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), David LaRosa (Clandestine), Marsha Mason (The goodbye girl), Christine Nagy (106.7 Lite FM), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), Austin Pendleton (What’s up doctor?), Alysia Reiner (Orange is the new black), Sally Struthers (All in the family), Maureen Van Zandt (The Sopranos), BD Wong (Nora from Queens), Ryan Wotherspoon (Fog), and me.
We are entertainment news had the privilege of interviewing one of Around the Sun’s iconic voice actors, Dr Francois Clemmons, last year. Please let our readers know, once again, where they can find the Dr. Clemmons episode and all of your episodes.
Dr. Clemmons is a force of nature and reminds me of another takeaway from this project: Whoever says you shouldn’t meet your idols is wrong, in my opinion. Through Around the Sun, I have had the opportunity to work and write for so many great talents that I have admired for years, including Dr. Clemmons. All of our episodes, including Dr. Clemmons, can be streamed for free wherever your readers listen to podcasts and through our website: www.AroundTheSunPodcast.com.
Thanks Brad! Good luck to you and Around the Sun at the Independent Series Awards!
Thanks for having me, Kenyan! And a special “proactive thank you” to your readers for engaging with this interview. Hope they enjoy #AroundTheSunPodcast!
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