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Chance Encounters Over the Airwaves

A sketch of some radio prop options from Ha Ha Da Vinci

In Ha Ha Da Vinci, the only character you ever see is Luca Pacioli. He was Leonardo da Vinci’s closest collaborator, friend, and confidant. While Luca is the only character onstage throughout the production, Leonardo’s voice repeatedly comes out of a small transistor radio, which Luca carries with him.

I realize that a radio is a bit of a surprise prop for a production set during the renaissance. But when the idea of Leonardo’s character only ever being heard over the airwaves occurred to me, I simply couldn’t let it go. The mysterious power of being able to flip a switch and pick up voices, music, news, or sports commentary over the airwaves is magical to Luca. I love how intoxicated his character is by this modern mechanism.

I also love the idea that in today’s world of seemingly endless audial and visual information, radio is so delightfully limited. Radio isn’t on-demand listening. It’s a chance encounter. And that’s exactly what Luca finds so enticing in Ha Ha Da Vinci.

Luca never knows what he will discover when he turns it on… it could be a soccer game in Roma, it could be a noir-style mystery show, or it could be the voice of his closest friend in the world.

In the play, the radio is a symbol of connection across distance. Of love sustained despite absence. Of the beauty of the unexpected. It is Luca’s most valued possession, because it is the tool with which he knows he just might hear Leonardo’s voice again.

A sketch of the radio prop from Ha Ha Da Vinci

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