Bill Radke gives islanders the first look at “Live From Liberty”

In this show within a show, Radke’s characters struggle with the question “Can’t we all just get along?”

Bill Radke, KUOW and National Public Radio talk show host, author, comedian, columnist, and now … playwright? It’s true.

Radke has written an original play, “Live From Liberty,” and Vashon Repertory Theatre will host a reading of the show at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at Vashon High School Theatre.

Complete with inside jokes for a Northwest audience, Radke has written what he knows — taking comedic license with the sometimes frantic real-life action behind the scenes of a radio production.

In this show within a show, Radke’s characters – each in a different hilarious way – struggle with the question “Can’t we all just get along?” It turns out to be a question within a question as the play’s radio host, Jack Ellis, deals with conflicts in his personal life as he addresses global conflict on the air, live and in person.

The play “just tumbled out” of him, Radke said in an interview last week, coming seemingly unbidden during a long plane ride last February.

While the rest of his family watched a movie, Radke found himself lost in imagination, dreamily wondering what it would be like to tell the story of a talk show host — a fictionalized version of himself — during a time when the news “marinated in so much antagonism, partisanship, and lies,” he said.

The story, he knew, had to be told in a way that was emotional and funny — something the craft of theater allowed.

“I wanted to commune, I wanted to be with people,” Radke said. “That’s what theater is.”

He started typing on his phone — and high above the clouds, “Live from Liberty” was born.

Radke, who has longtime family ties to Vashon, said that he was thrilled to have islanders as the first-ever audience for his work-in-progress play.

“I do believe Vashon is full of creative people, and I imagine some of those people will know me and feel familiar enough to come to [my show] and find out more about it,” he said.

Radke has been working with old friends and collaborators on the play — Seattle director/actor Ian Bell, known to islanders through his work with Vashon Center for the Arts, will direct the show, and Seattle’s David Gehrman will play the role of a hapless Bill Gates in the show.

Directed by Bell, the play’s cast will feature an A-list of Vashon’s professional resident actors, led by seasoned Hollywood transplant Brian Palermo, as Jack. Dedra Whitt, Mik Kuhlman, Chris Boscia, Elizabeth Klob, Chaim Rosmarin and Harris Levinson will round out the cast of pithy, well-drawn characters.

Vashon youth actors Phoebe Ray and Chloe Monroe will supply the play’s teen energy.

“We’re delighted Bill Radke has chosen our theatre company to test his play before a live audience,” said Charlotte Tiencken, artistic director of Vashon Repertory Theatre.

As always with new play readings produced by Vashon Rep, audience members attending the play reading will be invited to offer feedback in an open discussion following the performance.

“I’m counting on the Vashon audience to help me refine my first-ever play-writing endeavor, with kind observations,” said Radke.

Admission to the show is pay-what-you-will at the door, with a $15 suggested donation. For more information, visit