By: Cari Zahn – A&E Editor
Picture this: eight writers sit around a table, spinning ideas off of each other and deciding what to do with their creative energy. Ideas such as a time-travelling lawyer, a terminally-ill artist and an English department sitcom danced around their heads as they tried to nail down exactly what to do with them.
These were the very beginning stages of “Unwritten,” a narrative podcast created by current UD senior Avery Hutto, and UD alumni Anna Adami, Joey Ferber, Jenna Gomes, CC Hutten, Grace Poppe, Tavis Taylor and Chris Burnside. “Unwritten” began as the script for a hypothetical television show and transformed into what it is today.
Everyone on the team pitched different ideas, but the final product is in no way wholly one person’s. What started as a mixture of completely random ideas began to piece together to create a cohesive story.
“The most challenge part [of the writing process] was trying to figure out how our own personal styles and and interests fit into a story that’s not individually written by each person,” said Chris Burnside, faculty advisor and contributing writer for “Unwritten.”
The group’s end-goal was for listeners to be unable to identify different writers for each of the eight episodes, but rather to feel that the story is one continuous piece. Once the writing process was complete, the group found themselves with a story that they were proud of.
While fans of tragedy, drama, comedy or mystery may especially enjoy this story, it is truly a story written for everyone and will draw to those who are interested in talking about difficult topics. “Unwritten” is different than a lot of other podcasts, which tend to focus on one specific genre, but it will also be interesting to people who haven’t listened to audio dramas before.
The group of writers wanted to cover an array of challenging topics that are hard for people to talk about in order to get across a greater message. They took great care with their writing in these areas, especially when it came to portraying female characters. It was especially important that they avoided the stereotypical “strong female character.”
“We didn’t want it to look like we wrote a man and then made it female,” said Burnside. “Real women aren’t men underneath. They are complex individuals with differences.”
They paid a lot of attention from the very beginning to understand how diverse their audience might be, and that not everyone will have the background to know about difficult topics such as rape culture and consent.
To highlight more ways to approach the difficult topics covered in “Unwritten,” PSAs were given to the following non-profits: It’s On Us, Mental Health America, RAINN, The Trevor Project, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Crisis Text Line .
Aside from being educational and informative, “Unwritten” is a fun, comedic, and entertaining show written by members of the UD community. Everything from the writing process to the production of the show reinforced the idea of collaborating and sharing ideas with those around you, including the larger Dayton community.
The performers of the show were all local, some being from the UD community, and the show was recorded locally by Mega Fauna Sound at the Nucleus recording studio by Daytonian sound engineer, Dan Sievers. The theme song for “Unwritten” was performed by UD alumni Joey Ferber and Kelsey Mills, along with UD senior Ian Mortensen.
Current UD students are working on a similar collaborative project through a class that will be offered to all students through the English department in the future.
“Unwritten” premiered September 1, 2016 and a new episode releases every Thursday. You can listen to “Unwritten” on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play, Stitcher, and YouTube. Visit the official Unwritten website at unwrittenpodcast.com.