112: Writing a Scripted Audio Fiction Series with Jessica Wright Buha and Bilal Dardai of Unwell

Tamara talks with Jessica Wright Buha, and Bilal Dardai, staff writers with Unwell, a fiction podcast about conspiracies, ghosts, and unusual families of blood and choice.

Jessica and Bilal lay out the difference between writing for stage and writing for audio, the writers’ room of Unwell, the timeline, and what it’s like to write for an ongoing series. Near the end of our conversation you’ll hear their thoughts about how writing for audio might fit more seamlessly into the life of a parent-writer.

Bilal Dardai is an award-winning playwright, performance artist, and essayist with over two decades of experience working on stages throughout the Chicago area. He is an ensemble alumnus and former artistic director of The Neo-Futurists, a current ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre, and a member of the writing staff for HartLife’s acclaimed audio drama Unwell. Bilal lives in Evanston with his wife, son, and a vast array of eclectic media.

As a writer of audio dramas, Jessica Wright Buha is a three-time finalist of Deathscribe, an international horror radio play competition, and is currently a staff writer on the audio drama Unwell: A Midwestern Gothic Mystery, which recently hit half a million downloads and is regularly in the top fifty on Apple’s fiction podcasts chart. She also has extensive experience as a theatrical playwright, and her plays have been produced by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (a co-production with Filament Theatre), South Africa’s National Children’s Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, the Plagiarists, the Whiskey Rebellion, and others.

Unwell is produced by HartLife NFP, based in Chicago and comprised of a diverse team of professional writers, directors, actors, and sound designers. HartLife NFP is the company behind eight seasons of the acclaimed science fiction epic Our Fair CityOur Fair City launched in 2011 and was a pioneer in fiction podcasting. HartLife NFP has won awards and critical acclaim for its dynamic acting, incisive writing, and high level of production.

This piece, How to Write a Scripted Audio Fiction Series with Jessica Wright Buha and Bilal Dardai of Unwell was originally published on HowlRound Theatre Commons on March 18, 2020 (see that page for transcript). This interview series for Howlround is part of Tamara’s quest to learn more about audio drama by speaking with the people who are working in the medium.

Music: Spring Idyll by Pennee Miles.

Mentioned:
HartLife NFP
Deathscribe/Wildclaw Theatre
Lifeline Theatre

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