"From New York, Where the American Stage Begins, NBC presents New Theater"
The best of radio drama is simply story telling, and some of the best stories come from great American novels. NBC took advantage of this over the summer of 1951 with the presentation of New Theater.
New Theater was a continuation some might say a swan-song of NBC University of the Air. The concept of NBC University of the Air had been to present great works of literature, along with discussion and commentary. Listeners could participate in the broadcast as part of the curricula of a number of institutions across the country. By the beginning of the 1950's the radio network had largely abandoned the accreditation of association with universities. New Theater presented novels simply for the enjoyment of the stories.
Eva Le Gallienne presented New Theater and she was one of the greatest and most influential actresses on the American stage during the first half of the 20th Century. She was also an influential producer and director. Although she spent some time in Hollywood, her movie and radio resume was somewhat limited. During the Great Depression she had been offered directorship of the Works Progress Administration's National Theater Division, but she declined, preferring to work with established talent. Later she helped establish the American Repertory Theater. Although her own radio appearances were somewhat limited, she helped coach many successful radio performers, including Humphrey Bogart, Burgess Meredith, Elspeth Eric, Barton Yarborough, Jan Miner, and her lover, Basil Rathbone. Many of the radio actors whom she helped to success were eager to help with her New Theater project.
The novels presented on New Theater were adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy, the prolific radio writer better known for his adaptations of Science Fiction stories for Dimension X and X Minus One.
For other literature-based see also: American Novels, Authors Collection, The Author Meets the Critics, Author's Playhouse, Best Plays, Favorite Story, Great Plays, NBC University Theater, New Theater, Theater Guild on the Air, Tell It Again, Theater Royal, World's Greatest Novels, and Your Playhouse of Favorites.