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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 21 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

15

radio plays12, lamented eloquently on this very subject as early as 1931. In his article

“The Broadcast Play” for Theatre Arts, he noted that, when it comes to radio drama,

“Dramatists, critics, and audiences alike have accorded it much the same reception as

they would trained seals trying to play the trombone” (1008). Sixty-eight years later in

1999, Tim Crook still argues that, “Radio drama has been one of the most under

appreciated and understated literary forms of the 20th century” (Radio Drama Theory and

Practice 3). This absence of a sizeable canon of radio drama studies comes despite the

accessibility to the form to audiences. Peter Lewis, in his introduction to Radio Drama

(1981) writes of the average person’s exposure to radio drama versus live theatre:

During the 1930s and 1940s, the average person's experience of drama certainly came much more from radio than from the stage. And today, in spite of television drama, radio drama still reaches far more people than the live theatre, which is a minority interest although it receives vastly

more attention. (2)

Discussing theatre as a minority interest may sound odd

.

13

Lewis is writing of the British

experience, but the example can be applied here in Canada.14 In a recent interview,

Saskatchewan playwrights Pam Bustin and Mansel Robinson addressed the difference in

opinion as to what constitutes a large audience to radio producers and a writer who also

works outside of radio:

Robinson - It’s so many numbers, right? “Well, we’ve only got one

12 13 Discussed more in History and Isolation and Background chapters. Richard Imison, Radio and Theatre: a British Perspective in Theatre Journal 43 (1991): “in almost every country in the developed world (for some reason or another) only a small percentage of the total population actually attends live theatre” (Imison 290).

14 Statistics Canada’s The Daily cites that, in the fall of 2004, 10.4 percent of Saskatchewan radio listeners listed the CBC as their favourite radio format – third in popularity behind the music formats of country (36.3 percent) and adult contemporary (22.5 percent). This is slightly less than the national average: 11.1 percent of Canadian radio listeners. Also of note: “The proportion of public radio listening increased with education and with age. In fact, the CBC was the first choice in radio for respondents with university degrees. The situation was reversed in the case of country music stations. Seniors aged 65 and over spent 22% of their listening time tuned to the CBC, compared with only 2% among young adults.”

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