Eugene Lang’s War of the Worlds class taught by Sarah Montague and in partnership with Maya Georgieva from the XReality Center create a unique experience linking the past and the present with a performance and recording in 360 video. The course brought together students of Culture & Media, Journalism & Design, and Theatre.
This multidisciplinary course coincided with the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’/Mercury Theatre’s production of War of the Worlds. This iconic radio program was a watershed in the history of broadcast. It altered the social contract between listeners and radio, pioneered the concept of “fake news,” and explored issues of truth and manipulation. It is at once reflective of the fraught period in world and American history from which it emerged, and a precursor of modes of creation, production, and conceptualization that are still evolving today. Also timely is the broadcast’s links to issues of journalistic ethics and rivalries, and a climate of xenophobia that helped fuel the audience response. The work has also developed a parallel life in arts and entertainment that will be explored. It has inspired films, stage plays, performance works, and music compositions. These will be studied as part of an exploration of War of the Worlds as a cultural artifact, as will the program’s place in the psychic and professional trajectory of its creator Orson Welles. Read more about the class: