This coming Sunday, Episode One of an exciting new radio play will take to the air on Australia's ABC network. Aurora Calling: The Results of a Joint Observation is an adventurous, multi-dimensional composition by playwright Catherine Ryan.
It was a treat to meet Catherine in September when we both participated in the humanities-based Imagining Antarctica conference in Christchurch. Together with Australian philosopher and shakuhachi musician, Rupert Summerson and visual artists, Lisa Roberts and Peter Charuk, Catherine and I presented papers back-to-back during the conference's Friday morning session. The synergistic overlaps in our (pl) work and intentions were striking, inspiring and heart-warming. It seems there are growing numbers of people who believe in the potency and reach of working collaboratively and collectively as well as across continents, cultures, disciplines and media.
During her presentation, Catherine introduced us to the various layers of her (at the time, work-in-progress) play. An actress as well as a writer, she brought her two female characters dramatically to life in the auditorium that day, and spoke generously of her writing process and the motivations behind telling this story.
Aurora Calling will be broadcast in two episodes - Sunday 7 & 14 December @ 3pm, Australian time. For those of us living in other parts of the world, it will be available as a podcast on the ABC website, post-initial broadcast. You can listen in to the full production any time after 14 December on http://www.abc.net.au/rn/airplay/
Here's a brief outline of the play as described by the ABC crew -
'Based on the real-life experience of two Australian women, Aurora Calling: The Results of a Joint Observation is a fascinating exploration of both the world of science and the realm of human experience and emotion. Trisha and Jackie became friends when they were studying at the Mawson Institute for Antarctic Research. Both women are upper atmospheric physicists investigating auroras. To further their research, they travel to the polar regions where this amazing phenomenon occurs - Trisha to Alaska, and Jackie to Antarctica. Poles apart, the two must rely on email to keep in touch and support each other as they try to juggle both professional and personal life. Living so far away from home in these extreme, but beautiful landscapes, their daily lives hold together the vastness of the upper atmosphere, the minutiae of scientific observations, the domestically everyday and the intensity of small isolated community. Like the unpredictable, breathtaking aurora, the year of this story throws up unexpected challenges for Trisha and Jackie. Their friendship over such difficult distance proves crucial, as they navigate themselves through their worlds of ice, darkness, work, frustration, light, love and loneliness.'
(Writer Catherine Ryan, Producer Justine Sloane-Lees, sound engineer Garry Havrillay, actors Glenda Linscott & Daniela Farinacci.)