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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 30 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

24

1. History with a capital “H”. History plays feature the historic events or

historical figures as the main driving force of the narrative. These plays can take

on the historic figures that have captured imaginations in the past and grown to

epic, if not mythic proportions, e.g. Denison’s Romance of Canada.

2. history with a lower-case “h”, i.e. plays that use history as a backdrop for the

story being told. The history play, leads to explorations of the everyday struggles

of regular people living in Saskatchewan’s past. A specific location, time, and/or

event is established as the world in which the story being told unfolds. It is

history, as Ian E. Wilson defines it, as being “about some very everyday people

doing some extraordinary activities.”28

The historically-inspired plays featured in this chapter range between these two ends of

the scale: History to history.

Merrill Denison’s Romance of Canada fits into the History play motif. Denison

was assigned the task of writing plays celebrating the achievements of people of

importance to Canadian History (at least Canadian History as told by the dominant

patriarchal cultural majority). Soldiers, explorers and politicians like Henry Hudson,

Pierre Radisson, Montcalm, Alexander MacKenzie, and the Fathers of Confederation,

dominate the narrative; with the occasional nod to a brave woman (e.g. Laura Secord or

Madam La Tour). Places important to Canadian history are also involved, for example,

Seven Oaks, where the battle for control of the fur trade between the Hudson’s Bay

Company and the Northwest Company led to a bloody encounter between HBC settlers

and the Northwest Company Métis. The Romance of Canada was intended to help

28

Full quote in Introduction.

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