Hit the Waves!
by Estelle Rosen
Jana van Geest received a BFA in theatre studies from Concordia University. She has directed several plays, including The Vagina Monologues, No Cycle by Harry Standjofski, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Potato Conspiracy, which she also co-wrote. Most recently, she has assisted Emma Tibaldo on Talisman Theatre's productions Rock, Paper, Jackknife and The Flood Thereafter.
CHARPO: I understand you've recently begun producing 10-minute radio plays. What is the attraction and goal for 10-minute radio plays, and will these plays be adapted for social media, podcasts for example?
VAN GEEST: I'd like to say that there was some profound artistic reason for my interest in radio plays, but truly, it was just the ease of production that attracted me initially.
However, the more I thought about it, the more interesting the idea became of working with the actor's voice alone. I began thinking about how gesture and posture and the body in general influence delivery of vocal expression, and how those aspects can be subtly understood in the voice even when the listener can't see the person who is speaking. I'm interested in working with and around the restriction of being deprived of the body as a tool of artistic expression, and relying on sound alone to tell a story.
Also, my day job is in the video game industry, and I'm very intrigued by the evolution of entertainment from its origins in storytelling, through more codified forms of theatrical presentation, up to the modern-day video game, which creates a true multimedia experience.
Theatre has a fair bit in common with video games, but the one place where they intersect most clearly is in the use of actor’s voices. Set design can be replaced by level design and costumes can be rendered using 3-D software, but technology is nowhere near being able to replace the richness of expression found in the actor's voice, so we still use humans to supply the speech of otherwise virtual characters.
In terms of podcasts - yes, I'd like to make these plays available to as broad an audience as possible! We've just begun development on our first project, but once we have a few broadcasts under our belts, it would be fantastic to put the plays online as a collection that can be discovered and listened to by new people every week. The BBC has some great radio dramas available on their web site which I've quite enjoyed listening to, and the ideal is to do something similar, albeit on a smaller scale.