Pagliacci's Fools is dedicated to the increased development of the medium of radio and the audio arts. The medium of radio is one of the most accessible of all the broadcast mediums, being both affordable and portable. There is a substantial potential of radio to have a significant impact on a diverse audience. We acknowledge the importance of radio in expanding knowledge and understanding of the world around us, to break down the barriers between people of diverse cultures and to entertain by providing the listener with quality programs geared to educate as well as entertain. Pagliacci's Fools seeks to build a bridge between those who have been denied active participation in the audio arts and the opportunity to them to be producers, technicians and/or talent. In doing so, the participants become empowered to create challenging programs that reflect their community and concerns. Pagliacci's Fools is committed to grassroots involvement in our community and giving an avenue of expression for all regardless of race, sexual orientation, age, physical limitations, class or background.
WHAT IS PAGLIACCI'S FOOLS?
Pagliacci's Fools is an unusual moniker for an exceptional group of audio artists. Our goal? To develop projects that are unique in their presentation, vital in their focus and timely in their concerns. Pagliacci's Fools is aware of the wealth in the Bay Area. A wealth of arts, talent and especially a wealth of cultural and ethnic diversity. It is this diversity that Pagliacci's Fools would like to reflect in its projects.
"This sounds interesting. When did all this begin?" Glad you asked.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS . . . EROTICA
While en route to host a live remote at the 1994 San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Pride celebrations, Vini Beachem thought it would be interesting to create a radio theater program featuring erotic literature. He couldn't recall ever hearing this type of literature on commercial or public radio before (or since). With the help of co-producer/co-founder Sonia Rawal, On Air-otica hit the air on KPFA (station link) (Berkeley) in November of that year with works of established authors such as Anne Sexton and Bay Area writers and poets.
What was unique about the program was not only the type of literature but also the sound of the production. The sound became known as "Dramascapes,"— the convergence of the spoken word, music, sound effects, theme and story. After six months, the On Air-otica production group believed it was time to expand. After all, the hook of presenting erotic literature would soon show signs of wear and they didn't want to be known simply as the people who did the "sex shows." It was time for a change.
THE RUMORS FLY
The change came to be known as Rumor Mill Radio Theater. Rumor Mill made its debut in the Spring of 1995 and ran for two years. Rumor Mill continues to focus on original works by local Bay Area artists as will as exploring more experimental "Dramascapes" around the themes of language, natural sound and poetry. Rumor Mill also developed a listener call-in program called Bad Subjects, an audio version of an Internet 'zine produced by Cal graduate students. Bad Subjects dealt with pop culture themes as they related to the younger generation; technology and terrorism, the supernatural and youth activism.
After two years of producing this weekly radio show at KPFA (station link), Vini Beachem decided to move. Rumor Mill, however, was left in capable hands and still produces programs for KPFA (station link).
However, Vini Beachem couldn't stay away from radio. It was in his blood.
A FOOL'S FOOL
While living near the Russian River region of Northern California in the late '80s, Mr. Beachem thought of creating a theater group called "Pagliacci's Fools." This idea came to him one day while he walked through the redwoods. He saw the Pagliacci (Italian for clowns) as being noble. Not only was the Pagliaccio an entertainer but also the truth-teller. In addition to this was the responsibility of the Pagliaccio to keep the ancient court in good humor. A happy king meant a happy kingdom. But how did the Pagliaccio bring happiness into his own life? To whom did he turn? Mr. Beachem concluded there could be no greater honor than to be a fool for a fool. Hence the name.
But with Mr. Beachem's introduction to radio the idea of a theater group changed to a radio theater production group, which produces various projects including radio theater. Listening to the radio today, the number of radio theater programs on the air can be counted on one hand. And the number recorded live in front of an audience can't be counted because there aren't any. What better place than the Bay Area to launch THE RADIO PROJECT? The Bay Area is rich with talented performers and writers. There is no better place. Welcome to the world of Pagliacci's Fools.