Big Collage

Intro from Jay Allison: For seven weeks, students from all over the US (plus Canada and Australia) came to Woods Hole to immerse themselves in radio in the first ever Transom Story Workshop. They were led by Rob Rosenthal, with help from all of us at Transom, WCAI, and visiting friends—Ira Glass, John Barth, Kelly McEvers, and many others. They were beginners when they arrived, some with no experience at all, but they all left with completed radio pieces good enough for broadcast on our station and nationally. They lived and ate together. They worked on their stories until dawn. They actually looked different when they left, filled with new energy. They were a wonderful, coherent, lively group of people and we loved having them here on Cape Cod. Audiences are already benefitting from the stories they told. Take a look and listen.

Listen to “Big Collage”

About “Big Collage”

Going into this story I was fascinated by how contradictory much of Greta’s art seemed to be. She is a florist who makes bridal bouquets and decorates weddings. Then there is this other side of her art that is, well, maybe controversial is the right word. It expresses a darker side of life. In the interviews, Greta would talk about her darker art being “a sort of catharsis,” and while she talked about the hardships of other people on Cape Cod, I found I was too afraid to ask her what hardship was about for her personally. It wasn’t until the last of 3 (pretty long) interviews that I finally got the nerve to ask her directly. When I did, it was as if she had been waiting for me to ask what I was too afraid to ask. She opened up about her father’s suicide, and about her emotional ups and downs. A more in-depth version of her complex life and art unfolded.

Looking back, I am remembering how seemingly prepared I was for my first interview with Greta. Extra batteries…check. Collect the sound of silence in the interview space…check. Test mic levels, “Greta, what did you have for breakfast”…check. I even remember crossing my legs towards Greta in the interview because I once heard Oprah say that it shows you are interested in what someone is saying. I felt like, “Alright, I got this. Pft, this isn’t so hard.” I learned that despite my preparedness, the magic of a story comes from the surprises. It challenged me to be a more present and awake listener, and to let go enough that I could follow the story where it wanted to go. My final challenge: Eschew tautology. Short simple sentences say so much more.

Listen to More Pieces from this Story Workshop Class

Erin Cisewski

Erin Cisewski

Erin is part media maker, part mirth maker, and spends much of her time pranking people in Ithaca, NY. She is a student at Goddard College, studying media and consciousness, and the ways that radio storytelling builds empathy. The Transom Story Workshop thoroughly infected her with a love of making radio, and now she can’t stop even if she wanted to. Which she doesn’t! You can hear more of Erin's work on PRX.

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