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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan


framework will rely most heavily on the observations and theories of Northrop Frye,

Margaret Atwood, Kelley Jo Burke, and Carol Gilligan.

Timescape: History Plays and Isolation will explore plays that deal with

characters and stories from Saskatchewan history. These include the stories of Tom

Sukanen, The Willow Bunch Giant, and Piapot, as well as the experiences of early

settlers and farmers as envisioned by playwrights of later decades. Northrop Frye’s The

Archetypes of Literature (1951) and Anatomy of Criticism (1957) are of particular

interest, especially as the human experience of isolation corresponds to many of the

images, symbols, and myths expressed in the tragic side of his critical cycle.2 Radio

drama is an immediate genre that has a very short time to tell a story. In this collection of

plays, the average playing length is twenty to thirty minutes. In order to more quickly

connect with the listener and facilitate the action of the play, radio playwrights often

employ the familiar while appealing to the deeper archetypal or mythic dimensions of

even local characters and situations.

Frye’s cycle provides a road map for familiar cycles: “the solar cycle of the day,

the seasonal cycle of the year, and the organic cycle of human life” (Bate 606).3 In this

selection of radio plays, the listener encounters such familiar phases as “the sunset,

autumn and death phase. Myths of the dying god, of the violent death sacrifice and

isolation of the hero. Subordinate characters: The traitor and the siren” and the tragic

turns of “The darkness, winter, and dissolution phase. Myths of the triumph of these

powers; myths of floods and the return of chaos, of the defeat of the hero and

Götterdämmerung myths. Subordinate characters: the ogre and the witch” (Bate 606,

2 3

As laid out in The Archetypes of Literature – see diagram in the Appendix A: Frye Chart. For a visual representation of more of Frye’s cycles, see Appendix A: Frye’s Theory of Drama.

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