Fireside Chats with Cast Member David Linton
What should we know about Dr. David Linton?
Until his retirement, Dr. David Linton was a member of the faculty of Marymount Manhattan College. His recent book, Men and Menstruation: A Social Transaction, explores the ways that women and men create the taboos, superstitions and behaviors that surround the unique human phenomenon of the menstrual cycle. He is known as "The Resident Poet" of Fireside Mystery Theatre and has been a member of the cast for the past three years. He has performed in spoken word events in London, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and numerous American venues. He also writes and narrates audio description tracks for blind consumers of film, TV, dance, and theater productions.
When did you first fall in love with the medium of radio drama, and can you recall the first audio drama you heard and what you found compelling about it?
“Yes, as a child I recall huddling in front of my parents’ large Philco radio listening to The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet. I can recite with joy lines like, ‘Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man? The Shadow knows…’ and laugh maniacally like the show’s announcer. Or The Green Hornet’s telling Kato to ‘Fire up the Black Beauty’.”
Was there a particular station or presenter you fell for “aurally” at a certain time in your life?
“As an adolescent in the 1950s, I was dedicated to the Pittsburgh disc jockey, Porky Chedwick, known as ‘The Daddio of the Raddio, Your Platter Pushin’ Pappa’ who indelibly shaped my love of doo-wop and soul music but also my taste for the marginal.”
When did you first get involved in Fireside Mystery Theatre and what drew you to the creative hearth?
“I became involved in the Fireside Mystery Theatre world through my appearances at open mic poetry slams. One night a former student of many years past, Ali Silva, showed up and we had an opportunity to share our mutual interest in spoken word performance. She invited me to offer a poem or two for the cast to perform and eventually I was invited to present one of my pieces in person. Soon, my participation increased to include taking on acting assignments, and I was given the special privilege of closing each show with a new piece of verse especially composed to suit that production’s theme.”
As a performer what do you find most satisfying about the process of audio drama?
“The most satisfying aspect of participating in radio drama is the immense variety of roles one is able to take on. Due to the fact that casting is not limited to one’s physical appearance, I have been able to voice characters of different ages, types and physical characteristics.”
Tell us about the character you’ve found most satisfying to play so far throughout your Fireside career and why?
“The characters I’ve most enjoyed taking on have often been those who, I hope, are least like me, characters who are mean, nasty, scary. The opportunity to embody some ‘bad guys’ is somehow liberating. Also, playing characters of authority and power without concern for hurting feelings or caring about the consequences of decisions is sometimes quite satisfying.”
Who is your favourite Fireside character you didn’t play?
“I think that the characters I am most fascinated by that I have not played myself are often the women’s roles. Hearing the talented women in the cast embody all sorts of crazy, angry, arrogant, and conniving female characters, often with astonishingly effective accents, is a constant wonder.”
Which play that Fireside has produced are you proudest of and why?
“Among the productions I remember with particular pride are those involving Nellie Bly and her editors, and Madame Jumel, as well as a few others based on real people. There’s something about bringing their stories to life that has a special resonance for me.”
When you are not treading the boards at The Slipper Room performing in Fireside Mystery Theatre what occupies your time?
“I continue to write poetry and I have recently come up with a modest writing project that involves comparing particular aspects of the writings of Freud, Marx, Darwin, Mead, and McLuhan.”
Which horror movie, scary book or play has had the biggest impact on you and why?
“Among the things I have read or seen that impacted me deeply in a terrifying way there are two that are memorable, although they would not ordinarily be thought of as horror stories:
King Lear and The Old Man and the Sea. I read them both when I was barely 21 years old. These two works conveyed something about the horror of getting old, the horror of mortality, the horror of being irrelevant that made me gasp. Another in this category, a play that made me sob unexpectedly, was Cyrano d’Bergerac.”
Have you ever had a supernatural experience in real life? If yes, tell us about it. If no, do you believe in the supernatural?
“The closest I have come to anything one might call ‘a supernatural experience’ has been life itself. Time and again, there seems to be nothing ‘natural’ about ‘life’ as I have witnessed it. It is a matter of constant surprise, even stupefaction. The best example I can think of is that of a boy from a small coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania who finds himself regularly performing at an exotic nightclub in the heart of the Lower East Side of New York City, hanging out with a talented crew of actors, musicians, writers and producers, while also writing and lecturing about the social construction of menstruation. Now that’s supernatural.”
Where can people find out more about you or connect with you?
"On my website, www.davidlintonauthor.com."