River, River (Radio Play)

Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Melinda C. Bobis, River, River (Radio Play). ABC Radio National, 2006. Duration: 37 mins. See link below for audio file and link to video of performance; plus ABC radio National site here.



Research Background
Performance writing for radio is inherently layered, employing various sounds, stories and styles. It is intrinsically interdisciplinary. What if one pushes this interdisciplinary and layered nature of the form by using elements that are often diametrically opposed, while creating political cross-cultural work?

Research Contribution
The author adapted this play from her short story in the spirit of the collaboration-collision of various styles and stories. The poetic prose became a monologue and poems were translated by the author to her native dialect. The poems became songs for two styles: the Pasyon, the Philippine tradition of singing the Passion of Christ, and Western opera. The play is about a militarised village in the Philippines, echoing and subverting the Christ story. Unlike the male messiah redeeming mankind, the play has a female protagonist retrieving disappeared bodies and history. In the Pasyon, narrators sing and tell the story about a foreign hero, Christ; in the play, the native female protagonist and victims of war are the active narrators of their own stories. The play becomes a decolonising argument against Catholic Spain’s colonisation of the Philippines, and a restoration of female agency in a traditional male narrative.

Research Significance
In 2005 this project received $5,400 from the ABC Regional Production Fund. As innovative performance writing, it was transposed to stage through a creative development grant from Western Sydney Arts Strategy, Casula Powerhouse and Campbelltown Arts Centre. Its latest version is a one-woman play performed by the author in Spain and the US.



Multimedia URL

Media is loading