Masako Fukui’s radio documentary Will Kate Survive Kate is a tender portrait of a young woman’s battle with an eating disorder. The use of conventional interviews, recorded conversations, audio diaries, and fly-on-the-wall style observational recordings, contribute to a rich and layered documentary work. The anonymity of radio provided Kate the opportunity to articulate her experience without the distraction of her visual representation. And the use of intimate audio diary recordings, and script from written diaries, allowed Kate a degree of co-authorship in the documentary. Fukui’s compassionate approach is reflected in the deeply personal quality of the storytelling that is shared. Kate and her family share raw and honest accounts of their journey – so much so that when I first listened to this piece I wondered: what was the documentary experience like for these storytellers, and what compelled them to share such a difficult chapter of their lives? Thus for this review I chose to speak with Kate and her mother.
The challenge was how to tell Kate’s story, with all its complexity, unresolved elements and ongoing issues, and meet the expectations of the broadcaster and listening audience, and avoid deleterious effects on the storytellers themselves. The personal story that exists within the confines of the documentary will continue to live, breathe and develop further beyond it’s broadcast. Will Kate Survive Kate is an example of how well-guided audio storytelling can be a positive experience for its participants, and one only hopes that Kate reaches a point in the future where this difficult chapter of her journey is behind her.