Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Secret History Radio Program

Recently, we traveled back to Darkhan (our pre-service training site), to help record a radio program on the Secret History of the Mongols - in English. It will eventually be aired in all 21 Mongolian provinces and be packaged for sale. The final product should look something like the Mongolian version below.

The Mongolian version of "The Secret History of the Mongols Radio Play." The English version we worked on will also be packaged and sold, as well as played on the radio.

We got involved in the program after our friend Tysen recorded his piano audition peices for grad school with the producer, Javkhaa, who is well known to PVCs in Darkhan. He is always working on documentary film projects, including one we might be in about couch surfing in Mongolia. He'll also do a program featuring Tysen and other forgeiners who live in gers in Mongolia, which will air in Mongolia. He speaks English pretty darn well, has a jounalism degree and has a trade school degree in videography. He just turned 30 a few months ago, so he likes to tell us he is our older brother but we look like his BIG siblings.

Javkhaa: radio producer, director, videographer, editor. He's hard at work and enjoying his job.

First, Nathan performed as Jamukha, childhood friend turned sworn enemy of Temujin (later Chinggis Khan or Ghengis Khan, as you might know him). As a protagonist, Jamukha was a dark villanous character who eventually asks the great king to spare his life with a quick death. During that time in Mongolian history, the Mongolian tribes that were spread wide across the vast steppe were being organized by various regional powers. According to the legend, the most successful kings were Jamukha (later Gur Khan) and Chinggis Khan. Chinggis Khan offered to share the kingdom together, but the Gur Khan refused in favor one, unified Mongolian people.

Nathan spends some time in the recording booth playing Jamukha, sworn brother turned sworn enemy of Temujin/Chinggis Khan.

Because the parts have been recorded part-by-part, we had to play off Nargi, a Darkhan English teacher and summer Peace Corps trainer. Nargi's English is so good, he has a kind of California surfer accent mixed with his Mongolian accent. Javkhaa was able to direct us pretty well, but for the more complicated direction, he used Nargi as a translator. Incidentally, Nargi also wrote the screenplay for the English version we were recording.

Besides his charm and wit, Nargi is an Elvis impersonator, and a good one. He's a really talented musician and learned most of his English through music, he says. His most notable influences are, of course Elvis, and the Seattle grunge scene, especially Nirvana.

Nargi played various characters to set up our scenes. He also acted as director and translator making sure we got the most out of every scene.

Leslie played O'luen, mother of Temujin (later Chinggis Khan) and his siblings. Her part was a little smaller, but very powerful. Her energy and poise came through well as she delivered the well known stories encouraging Temujin and his brothers to stop fighting amongst themselves and to work together, which foreshadows Chinggis Khan's unification of the Mongol tribes into one, powerful people that eventually established the largest empire in history ranging from Asia to Europe.

Leslie turned on the drama as O'luen, the mother of Temujin/Chinggis Khan.

We enjoyed our time in the booth with Nargi and Javkhaa. Look forward to hearing this English version of "The Secret History of the Mongols Radio Play" on 106 FM in Darkhan next year after post production has been completed.


Travis Hellstrom said...

So cool you guys! You are wonderful! I was just reading Tysen's blog and saw this there too! : )

Natso said...

Radio play? OMG! This is epic!

Saruul said...

Hello Guys; if the English version quality is good I would love to buy one.