Podcast Gives Voice to the Small Fish in a Big Pond

By Mike Ervin, Abilities Expo Ambassador

If you listen to Small Fish Radio you will hear Michael Herzovi portraying a wide variety of strange characters.

"More often than not," Herzovi says, "the stories and characters are unusual. Some of my favorite parts have been an Asian carp, an inept mad scientist, a drunken Russian cabbage, one of Columbus' sailors and the owner/manager of a burlesque troupe."

If you watch a Small Fish podcast from the studio audience as it is being performed and recorded, you will see Herzovi sitting in his motorized wheelchair with his script propped in front of him on a music stand.

Small Fish Radio Spotlights Emerging Playrights

Small Fish Radio podcasts intentionally sound like old-time radio, complete with live sound effects. Herzovi says, "It's a perfect gig for me. I get to act without worrying about blocking or movement, which might be problematic in my power chair onstage." 

Small Fish Radio Theatre
Herzovi, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, was always drawn to theater. He has an Masters of Fine Arts degree in theater with a concentration in playwriting from Southern Illinois University. He met Small Fish founders Trina Kakacek and Michael John Kelly about 10 years ago when they all attended a playwriting workshop at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. In the workshop, writers passed scripts around to be read aloud and cast other writers in roles.

Kakacek and Kelly were impressed with Herzovi's acting ability so they invited him to join them in launching a new artistic endeavor. "They said they were putting together a podcast dedicated to producing new work by emerging playwrights," says Herzovi. "It would be like an old time radio show, with short plays, stories, music and banter among the cast."

The three met at a Chicago coffee shop on a warm August night in 2011 and kicked around ideas for a name for their project. They chose the name Small Fish Radio Theatre and Thespinarium. "Small Fish" beacause, Herzovi says. "We give voice to the small fish in the big pond, producing work that might not get produced at a more traditional theater."

Performing for Live and Digital Audiences

Small Fish Radio Theatre

A show starts to come together when Small Fish issues a call for scripts to be written under a theme such as intoxication or travel. Once enough material is collected, the scripts are woven together with original music and sound effects into a show. Then the Small Fish troupe performs the show on stage before a live audience at one of Chicago's many playhouses. Past shows have had titles like Mercury Considers the Last Layer, Atlas Interruptus, Intoxicated and Chicken. Songs have titles like "Meatball Parade," "Monkeys Spinning Monkeys," and "Glee Club Polka." 

Herzovi also occasionally contributes as a writer. He wrote and performed two monologues entitled Fishing Expedition and Basement Crawl. "As much as I can I help with music and sound effects, too." He says. "It's a very collaborative effort." 

Small Fish Radio bills itself as "portable theater for the ear." Shows are an eclectic mix of short plays, spoken word, poetry, storytelling and music. But most of all, they're a whole lot of fun. 

About the author:

Mike Ervin is a writer, playwright and disability rights activist living in Chicago. Mike is a columnist for New Mobility Magazine and writes the blog Smart Ass Cripple.



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