My first memories of radio are from when I was 3 years old and had to get up early to go to nursery school. Every morning there were voices coming out of the speakers talking frantically about traffic and weather between flash news and commercial jingles. During the weekends there were voices of football match commentators, kicking words as if in a stream of sports consciousness that suddenly would become a prolonged scream accompanied by electronic howls whenever someone scored. The radiophonic rhythm of the working days and the weekend. It wasn’t until many years later that I realised the radio could be, paradoxically, an intimate mass medium.
In 1992, one night, alone in my room, I was browsing the ether when I came across the radio show O Operador de Sonhos (The Dream Operator) by the Portuguese actor João Reis for Radio Geste. He was reading a text by Brion Gysin to the desert sounds of Sussan Deihim and Richard Horowitz. I was instantly hooked, switched off the lights and laid on my bed listening to his soothing voice. Every Wednesday he would read the most captivating texts by Samuel Becket, Marguerite Duras and Fernando Pessoa, among many others, to the exquisite sounds of Pascal Comelade, Steven Brown or Harold Budd, to name a few. Instead of waking up the listener to everyday life, he would open up a world of oneiric possibilities. It was through The Dream Operator that I discovered Lars Von Triers’ Europa and Barbara Sukowa, giving her seductive hypnotic voice to Katharina Hartman’s confession.
The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas pays homage to the work of João Reis and Barbara Sukowa, in its attempt to convey a sense of radio intimacy: that of the words of Dylan Thomas and their resonance in the lives of those who feel they could have written them, whilst trying to turn each listener into an accomplice, as if each had been told a secret.
Words: Dylan Thomas
Music: Serge Chaloff
Voice & production: Ray Ganz