An Interview with James Lee: Further Delvings into Theatre of the Mind

Mar 4, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Jim, I understand you and your troupe have just performed in Roswell, New Mexico. Tell us about the play you put on?

I adapted a stage play I wrote a number of years ago called “Will Someone Please Tell Me What’s Going On Here?” to a radio play for the student radio drama program here at Eastern New Mexico University called Theater of the Mind. It’s a new program, and this was the second production. It has some elements of character comedy, but is basically a farce. It has been in print since 1975 and performed all over the English-speaking world. Adapting it for radio was quite a challenge. Another challenge was my insistence on recording it with a live audience. I hate canned laughter or other artificial audience responses. So, I made an arrangement with Roswell Community Little Theatre in Roswell, New Mexico. We had a good turnout and positive comments. The show is in post-production now. It will soon be available on the internet and CDs.

2) Now , what is singular about this play?

I don’t know what is singular about this play, other than the fact that every play is unique. The most impressive part of this radio production, though, is the students involved in it. Radio drama is nostalgic for me, but to them it is something new. They were full of dedication and worked very hard to make it a success.

3) How did you first develop the idea of resurrecting old radio dramas?

Dr. Roger Gatchet in the Department of Communication at ENMU took on the responsibility of getting a student radio program going at ENMU. I suggested to him to include radio drama because of its unique historical, artistic, and cultural significance. Roger is always willing to listen to ideas, even from crazy old dudes like me. He went along with the suggestion. Since I am the only person in the department with professional radio drama experience (as far as I know), Roger turned the project over to me. It would be fun to take the credit, but it really belongs to Roger Gatchet and the communication students.

4) Now, the play you presented in Roswell- tell us about the characters and some of the performers?

The radio play performed in Roswell has four characters plus the announcer. There is a bored middle-aged couple (Harold and Lucille) who decide to spend an evening creating a little excitement in their apartment building. Their project draws in two innocent targets: their next-door neighbor Florence and the neighborhood beat cop. The result is panic and confusion, and then the reluctant return to boredom. The actors are Jeremy Gardels as Harold, Alanna Brown as Lucille, Amethyst Collins as Florence, Brady Bloomfield as the cop, and Dr. Shirley Rollinson as the announcer. Jeremy is a recent ENMU graduate, and the other three actors are freshmen. Dr. Rollinson is a professor here at ENMU.

5) Some of your past plays are available on line to listen to- could you provide the link?

Theater of the Mind has recorded two radio plays. The second is in post-production but will be available soon. The first is a creepy suspense story called Tick Tick that is available on CD or on the internet at

6) Has this current play been recorded or are you in the process of doing that?

The next radio play will be recorded in August or September. Hopefully, student scripts will be submitted for consideration soon. If it is not enough time for a student script, the next production will most likely be a socially relevant drama called Saying Hello to Goodbye, or the modern version of a comedy of manners called Kamikaze Waltz. I’m open for suggestions.













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