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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 17 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

11

definition of isolation takes on medical as well as personal dimensions. Characters in

these plays face isolation both in the sense that they are alone or separate and in the more

clinical sense of being separated for quarantine or experiment.10 Health care has

historically been, and continues to be, an important issue for Saskatchewan residents.

What also becomes apparent when listening to plays in this collection is the

prevalence of women’s voices in dealing with themes of health and healthcare. As laid

out in the introduction, the danger of isolation from community is very much a part of

Atwood’s observations in Survival. Frye’s tragic archetype needs the isolated hero;

community is the stuff of comedy. Kelly Jo Burke suggests that what women tend to

write about for the radio play is the personal and the lonely, the stuff of secrets and fears

that need to be voiced and shared and, hopefully, alleviated. Carole Gilligan writes about

the importance to society of the community-centred feminine ethic of care balancing the

individualistic patriarchal order of things. Gilligan writes from a background in

psychology, but calls for wider shifts in social discourse from the individualistic, paternal

ideal to a more relational, feminist ideal. It should not be surprising that many of the

plays in this collection that address health(care) concerns are written by, and about,

Saskatchewan women.

Radio Drama: Audience, Isolation, Attention, and Study

Canada is a nation that possesses a small population separated by great distances.

As such, this country has always been particularly receptive to radio as an instrument that

relieves feelings of isolation, both physical and cultural. Saskatchewan’s population has

10 Most specifically in the play Old Crocks, which is set in a tuberculosis hospital, the more specific medical definition of isolation from the OED applies, being: “The complete separation of patients suffering from a contagious or infectious disease, or of a place so infected, from contact with other persons. Also attrib. in isolation hospital, camp, etc., that by which isolation is effected.”

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