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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 16 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

10

Burke provides insight into why Saskatchewan writers like Quandt tap into

images of women, cold, snow, death, and isolation. To Burke, it has as much to do with

Saskatchewan ways of life dying as it does with people freezing. Building on her own

interpretation of the woman-as-nature metaphor of Mother Wheat as an “old lady dying

in the snow” and writing that comes from “frozen steppes,” Burke also draws a strong

connection between landscapes and their effect on playwrights:

We’re like Scandinavians, we’re like Russians, and Ukrainians. We write about darkness and death and cold to a very substantial degree. And when we’re not writing about death and darkness and cold, there’s a lament of worry that runs through everything. The comedy is very black. The romances tend to be clinging to each other in a stiff wind, you know? So there’s that eastern European darkness that got carried over from one steppe to another. That being said, people who live in the darkness tend to laugh more than most because what else are you going to do? So the comedy has a darkness, but also a sharpness that is very unique. And there’s a constant sense too, of community being what’s left when everything else is gone that runs through the work.

Atwood agrees that home and community are ways to cope with the reality of

one’s natural world and to make it more bearable. For “Nature is a monster, perhaps,

only if you come to it with unreal expectations or fight its conditions rather than

accepting them and learning to live with them. Snow isn’t necessarily something you die

in or hate. You can also make houses in it” (Atwood 66). In order to escape the settler

mentality of fighting to tame nature, one must first accept one’s new environment as

home, i.e. overcome the colonial mentality and accept a new community. In Quandt’s

plays, communities are essential to characters’ health, if not their survival.

In Bodyscape: Health, Healthcare, and Womens’ Voices, the question of

isolation and why it continues to be an important theme in Saskatchewan radio plays

written after 1980 will be viewed through the lens of health and healthcare. Here the

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