This morning during my walk along one of Cagliari's beautiful beaches, I was struggling trying to explain to my friend what is that bothers me so much in many Italian podcasts. Running out of adjectives and adverbs to describe what I mean, it finally came to me: it is like fourth wall theater, there are excellent fourth wall productions, but they are not for me. I stopped attending traditional theater over three decades ago, and I cannot enjoy a play unless I feel engaged. Same thing with podcasts. I want to be engaged and challenged. I want to work to put the pieces together, I want to be given enough material to understand but I do not want to have everything explained.
Give me 2 + 2 but
let me work out 4 by myself.
My approach is frustrating for me and it must be also for the people around me, as I do tend to complain quite a bit when asked about my podcast favourites within the Italian landscape. I am certain that friends and contacts are sick of me talking about my desire to contribute to the creation of a discerning audience. The reality is that I long for listeners who can understand the difference between reading from Wikipedia with music and a bunch of sound effects downloaded from youtube in the background, and something crafted, scripted, edited and post-produced with care and attention at the average rate of two hours for every two minute of final tape.
I do not resent (too much) the fact that most of Italy's top-ten podcasts do not share my maniacal attention for a dramaturgy which cannot consist of written word only, but is a combination and a balance of all elements concurring in the creation of the final act:
sound, music, text, acting, body movement, interaction, voice, sound design, silences, sighs, whispers, tone
and whatever else makes a difference at the end. Is it so difficult to apply the same approach to podcasts, basing creation upon a podcast-dramaturgy that includes voice, text, sound, music, interaction of elements, tone, content etc. etc.? I do find my discerning audience when I produce in English. And this is in itself reason for further grievance, as I am aware that by so doing I am actually reinforcing the same cultural hegemony of the English language against which I am complaining and rebelling, but at the same time I am aware of the fact that
I have to use English
if I want to be seen and heard.
Haven't find a solution yet, and I am not unaware of the privilege that allows me to create in Italian and in English. Still, the fact that I can create in English doesn't position me anywhere near the mainstream creators as I do have my accent and I do feel as belonging to fringe communities.
The good news - I have to finish this with a good news! - is that in Italy there is a community of podcasters, creators, sound designers, communicators and creatives willing to play a part and to experiment together. I am finding them every Saturday morning on Clubhouse, of all places!
Photo by Hanna Listek on Unsplash