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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 20 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

14

Contemporary playwrights in Saskatchewan acknowledge the need of the radio

listener to feel a part of something bigger. Pam Bustin also evokes lone-ness when

speaking of her imagined audience. When she is writing, Bustin confides:

I always just think I’m talking to one person. And it’s not always a specific person, it might change depending on what the call is for, I always just think of one person. … I just want to communicate a story to one person. Whoever. Especially in radio, because you’re sitting alone. That’s how I like to listen to radio drama. Alone in my living room with the lights out. (interview)

What gives radio its power to relieve feelings of isolation is the unlimited nature of the

imaginative space wherein it lives. Tim Crook, in his 1999 book Radio Drama: Theory

and Practice sums up the magical place where audio drama lives:

Audio/radio drama shares the imaginative function which is recognized as “off stage” in live physical theatre. Hence the confidence in the expression “Theatre of the Mind”. I believe this is what Marshall McLuhan meant by, “I live right inside the radio when I listen.” Perhaps he should have said “radio lives right inside me when I listen” (7).

The radio listener may be listening alone, but is a large part of the creative process. It is

the listener’s job to transform the vibrations of air into the dramatic experience. The

creators of the radio play must provide a product equal to the task of drawing in the

listener, whether next door or across the province/country/world, into the collective,

creative experience -- the multitude of individuals. Isolation is a part of Saskatchewan

radio drama, from the themes playwrights explore to the experience of the listeners.

Despite all that radio drama has going for it, it is a genre that has always had to

fight for critical attention. Almost as long as there has been radio drama, there have been

those who argue that it has not received its due consideration as a literary form. Merrill

Denison, the playwright who was called upon to write the Romance of Canada series of

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