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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 29 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

23

was also in the 1930s that Edmund Barclay wrote Australia’s first historical drama serial

for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Entitled As Ye Sow25, it was a half-hour

weekly serial that aired for nine months and followed six generations of a family.

Rodney Pybus notes in Radio Drama: the Australian Experience that, “historical drama

has proved to be perhaps the most popular of the more serious genres for an audience that

may in some ways still feel the lack of a secure national identity” (246-247).

Both Australia and Canada are nations with colonial pasts.26 Like Australia,

Canada has had its share of confusions and crises concerning its national identity in

postcolonial terms. Atwood notes how this can understandably lead to retrospection,

artistic and otherwise: “Part of where you are is where you’ve been. If you aren’t too

sure where you are, or if you’re sure but you don’t like it, there’s a tendency, both in

psychotherapy and in literature, to retrace your history to see how you got there”

(Survival 112). If Canadian writers look to history as a way of alleviating national

insecurity, Saskatchewan writers of the 1980s have twice the reason to look back in time

for material, having to simultaneously address a significant provincial as well as national

insecurity of identity.27

Radio also presented playwrights of relatively young nations, like Canada and

Australia, with the means of telling their national story in a way that could be heard by

most of the residents of their countries. When telling historic tales, playwrights’

approaches can range between the Historic and the historic. To clarify, the two

approaches are:

25 26 The dates are fuzzy – best guess puts it after 1932 (Lewis; Pybus 267-247). Canada and Australia also lack a single, violent event or revolution which clearly defines a breaking away from colonial power and forging of a new identity as found in, for example, the USA. See introduction and Burke’s comments on Mother Wheat and a “way of life dying.” 27

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