Timescape: History Plays and Isolation
choice for him. He got pushed into a more and more frenetic pace, with less and less control over his life. Yet he was this grounded human being back in his home place. Ursell – So, we wanted the structure of the piece to reflect that feeling about his life.
The radio production was part of a larger collection of Beaupré-based projects by
Sapergia and Ursell. Ursell admits that Beaupré was too intriguing a character to leave
behind after one project:
Sometimes you find a story in your own history that attracts you because it’s so unusual and fascinating. And again, that’s a story that we then created as a stage play for a Persephone school tour, and then I wrote a short story based on that same material, so you sometimes find things in a history that lead into a whole range of work for you. The play has even been translated into French. (interview)
Beaupré’s struggles with the isolating forces of fame and exploitation are a powerful tale.
Beaupré’s isolation while he performs at the World’s Fair is highlighted as The
Giant Who Wept begins. The listener hears a barker inviting fair-visitors into the exhibit
of which Beaupré finds himself a part. The barker explains that the exhibit is entitled
“Chronicles of Civilization’s Triumphs” and ends with a “live anthropology exhibit”.
The barker describes “People of strange colours, and as we watch and learn from these
oddities, let us hope that they take home some tincture of civilization as a lasting legacy
of their stay at the fair.” To the people at the fair, Beaupré is not only different, and
therefore “uncivilized”, but an oddity to be observed and studied as a scientific specimen.
He is emotionally isolated by ignorance and fear. He is physically isolated with the
show, which keeps him in a human zoo. Beaupré’s isolation conforms more to the
psychological and sociological definition of the word as being “The separation of a
person or thing from its normal environment or context, either for purposes of experiment
and study or as a result of its being, for some reason, set apart.”