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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 41 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

35

even fall back on imagination to complete his vision. This Sukanen fits more into

Atwood’s bleak, post-enlightenment mould of the Canadian hero. He struggles against

community. But he fails. He is isolated. He dies. His struggle, though heroic, ends

with his death and his unfulfilled dream. Sukanen is cast as a hero in these plays, but his

refusal to live within his community can only end in failure. Community is necessary for

survival.

Themes of an isolated, dying hero who dreams of better times and happier places

are also present in The Giant Who Wept (1980, 25:00)37 by Geoffrey Ursell and Barbara

Sapergia.38 The play was inspired by the life and death of Edouard Beaupré (1881-

1904), a literally larger-than-life character from Saskatchewan history more popularly

known as the Willow Bunch Giant. Beaupré was an astonishing eight feet, two and one-

half inches tall.39 The Giant Who Wept is an exploration of the exploits and exploitation

of Beaupré both during his life and after his death. Beaupré left the family ranch, near

Willow Bunch, to perform with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He hoped to send money

home to help his large, impoverished family in southern Saskatchewan. While

performing at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Beaupré died of pneumonia. His body

37 38 Written for Festival ’80 Radio Theatre. Sapergia and Ursell both note that their work is often inspired by Saskatchewan history. This year, they collaborated on Winning the Prairie Gamble - a historic play celebrating Saskatchewan’s history for Persephone Theatre’s Youth Tour. Ursell is a full time writer, producer, and publisher who has written fiction, poetry, and songs, and drama for television, stage, and radio. His awards include: Perdue, winner of the Books in Canada First Novel Award; The Running of the Deer the Clifford E. Lee National Playwriting Award; Saskatoon Pie won Persephone Theatre’s National Playwriting Competition. Ursell is the current president and a founding member of Coteau Books (founded 1975). Sapergia is a widely-produced writer of drama and fiction for stage, radio, film and television. Sapergia’s publications include: novels Foreigners (1984) and Secrets in Water (1999); a short story collection South Hill Girls (1992); and a poetry collection Dirt Hills Mirage (1980). Sapergia has won two Saskatchewan Writers Guild Major Awards for Drama. Her produced stage plays include Lokkinen (1982), Matty and Rose (1985), The Great Orlando (1985), and Roundup (1990). Sapergia is a founding member of Coteau Books and is currently a Board member and Coteau’s Children’s Editor. Both Sapergia and Ursell are active members of the Saskatchewan, and Canadian, writing community.

39

8’2½” = 246.25 centimeters.

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