Fiction Friday: SOTA grads flex their acting chops in “Exeter” podcast

When I met George Ducker on the steps of St. Phillip’s Dorm (now referred to as Berry Hall), he told me that one day he would be a paid writer and “the doctor of rock-n-roll.” Fast-forward to present-day, Ducker, who spent his first (and only) year at CofC back in 1998 (I call that a “Quarter-Grad”), is now living the writing dream. In addition to that PhD in rock that he is still working on, Ducker is one of the writers for “Exeter,” an increasingly popular podcast that has now spanned two full seasons. Set in rural South Carolina, the cast includes Kevin Robertson (’99), Robert Seay (’99), and David Thomas Jenkins (’02), all friends he met at the CofC School of the Arts. (George Ducker – image below) 

According to Phoebe Lett of the New York Times, “If you love a ‘Law & Order’ marathon and binged ‘True Detective’ in one go, ‘Exeter’ might be your new favorite podcast. This police procedural follows Colleen Clayton (Jeanne Tripplehorn of ‘Criminal Minds’), a tough-as-nails homicide detective whose trust in her own judgment is shattered after a woman she convicted of murder 10 years earlier is exonerated. Bad timing for an existential crisis, since a ritualistic serial killer is terrorizing her home of Exeter County, S.C.”

I first listened to “Exeter” on a road trip. I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries, and this podcast made the majority of my 10-hour drive from Charleston, SC to Louisville, KY melt away — it’s really that good. And sure, I’m biased because my dear friend co-wrote it and actors I know and love are in it, but that’s an even bigger reason to listen. Listening to “Exeter” not only made me proud, but it took me back to my theatre days here at the college when we all sat on those second floor Simons Center couches dreaming up big creations and exciting futures. Our theatre professors gave us the tools, spaces, and freedom to create, and those comforting walls of the Emmett Robinson and Theatre 220’s blackbox space birthed playwrights, actors, directors, and designers that continue to work in “the biz” today. I imagine a lot of today’s theatre students are feeling unmoored, mourning their disconnection to those theatre spaces and classmates that every CofC grad holds so dearly in their hearts. Having worked with some of these instructors to transition to online learning environments, I know that they are rising to the challenges that Covid19 is presenting and working hard to continue the connection with their students. Thank goodness for the tech that is enabling these students to see and interact with their instructors and friends. And thank goodness for the arts and the people creating the stories we find ourselves disappearing into as we maintain our social distance. (Seay and Jenkins – images below)

In an article for the LA Times, Jeanne Tripplehorn recalls “recording ‘Exeter’ in what she called a ‘black box in Burbank,’ the cast used microphone packs instead of staying behind a desk, which she says added more life to her performance. ‘It was very modern, it felt very fresh,’ she said. ‘If we did a scene where we were sitting in a car, we would stand up and get out of the car. Or if we fell, we’d actually fall,’ she said. ‘I think it will help the listener to really lift it off the page so to speak.’”

Screens can be exhausting, especially now that we seem to be in front of them most of the day. If you want to give your eyes a break and get lost in a story (and feel some CofC pride in the process), give “Exeter” a listen. Not only can you access it (in most places) for free, but there are now two seasons available.

Find it on Sundance Now, Podchaser, Spotify, Audible, Apple… Pretty much anywhere you find podcasts. According to Audible Feast’s Best Podcast Series of 2018, “there is also additional content available to Sundance Now subscribers, called ‘dynamic captioning, a process by which visual elements are added to underscore emotion and enhance the tension of this gripping crime mystery.’” *Youtube (free) and Amazon (with a Sundance Now trial period) also stream this dynamic captioning content.

Contact your friendly TLT team member if you have problems finding or listening to this or other podcasts!