BOB

Intro

The intimate voice, the personal drama, and three young storytellers who follow their own curiosity – podcast Bob was a novum in the Dutch language. It stood out as the first true narrative podcast in the Dutch language.

Read the story

The intimate voice, the personal drama, and three young storytellers who follow their own curiosity – podcast Bob was a novum in the Dutch language. It stood out as the first true narrative podcast in the Dutch language.

Produced by young makers from the Woordkunst-program (“Word art” in English) at the Conservatory of Antwerp in Flanders, the podcast also made Dutch listeners aware of how much richer and more beautiful Flemish Dutch is. In 6 episodes, the podcast makers follow 84-year old Elisa, who is slowly fading into dementia. Only recently, years after her husband died, she has started to mention her old neighbor boy Bob, whom, she says, she has had a secret affair with and who even got her pregnant when she was just fifteen. Her three daughters are surprised; they’ve never even heard of Bob. Did he really exist? Is this truly a story of a romantic first love? And do they have a sibling that was given up for adoption at birth?

Explanation by author

With the support of the Mediafonds and VPRO Dorst we were able to produce our first long form audio series. By investigating the story of Elisa and Bob and constructing the storyline as we did, we wanted to approach the topic of dementia in a different way. Instead of highlighting the improbability of the story of this 84-year old woman, we decided to take her words seriously and worked through hours of tape to carefully listen to what she was trying to dig up from under the layers of time and the taboos of her youth.

We searched through libraries, city archives, tracked down several (wrong) family lines – the smallest piece of information was enough to encourage us to keep going. But there were also long periods of time in which we found nothing at all, which caused us to doubt the whole premise of the series. What if what we were tracing was merely a ghost? We found ourselves listening to Elisa’s words in a different way, with growing scepticism and doubt. When, after another long period of doubt, another clue surfaced, we were always brutally confronted with how easy it is to brush away the words of an 84-year old as improbable and untrue, how it is so much easier to not take people of a certain age and in a certain condition seriously, and how absurd this tendency actually is, considering the long lives they have lived and the many lost chapters of history they carry with them.

We crafted the result of this journey in 6 episodes, building in cliff-hangers, laying out our leads and hypotheses, and including all our doubts and concerns. We are audio story tellers, so we spend a ridiculous amount of hours on cross fading, choice of music, balancing of sounds. But what made this story so explicitly suitable for audio was its very universal bottom line: everyone has a mother, grandmother, or is to become one, one day, and everyone will be confronted with old age. By giving Elisa a voice but not a face, her words can resonate beyond the individual story. The imagination of the listener is never confined to this one woman, but will inevitably flow to the faces that they know and see before them. And this is why the most rewarding comments are those from people that have told us that they have started talking to their mother or grandmother in a different way, altering their focus and really learned to listen in a different way.

Biography

AudioCollective SCHIK

AudioCollective SCHIK 
creates audio stories to listen to in the comfort of your own home. They also venture outside, creating audio experiences in the theater or on the streets. Their work has been aired on Dutch and Belgian radio, and has won several awards, including the NTR Radioprijs and Korte Golf Award. Their first podcast Roes launched in 2016, and soon after they created the theatrical audiowalk So You Still Sort Of Have The Same Number, which was selected for IDFA DocLab. Their latest podcast BOB, made in co-operation with VPRO, was the first Dutch podcast that feels like a Netflix series. It was the first European podcast ever selected for IDFA 2017, for which it received the Filmfund DocLab Interactive Grant.

Nele Eeckhout 
(Belgium, 1988), has a Master of Arts in Languages and Literature, and a Master in Drama. In 2014 she won the NTR Radio Award with ‘Vogelen’, a documentary about the similar mating rituals of humans and birds, which received an honorable mention in 2015 at the In The Dark Audio Award under the title ‘Birding’. Her research on the merging of audio and theater resulted in the interactive audio performance ‘This Is Not Happening’.

Siona Houthuys (Belgium, 1989) has a Master of Arts in Languages and Literature, and a Master in Drama. Her solo ‘Speelgoed’ won the Debuut-Award from Theaterzaken Via Rudolphi at the ITs Theaterfestival 2016, sending her on a national tour of Belgium. Her newest performance ‘No Coincidence, No Story’ will premiere in September 2018.

Mirke Kist (The Netherlands, 1991) has a Master in Drama from the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. In 2014 she won the Korte Golf Radio Competition with her piece ‘Twister’. Besides working as a radio producer, she writes. In 2015 she won the writing contest WriteNow! Her work has been published in Das Magazin and De Titaan and she has written a series of columns for Trouw.nl.

Why this story?
The intimate voice, the personal drama, and three young storytellers who follow their own curiosity – podcast Bob was a novum in the Dutch language. It stood out as the first true narrative podcast in the Dutch language. Produced by young makers from the Woordkunst-program (“Word art” in English) at the Conservatory of Antwerp in Flanders, the podcast also made Dutch listeners aware of how much richer and more beautiful Flemish Dutch is. In 6 episodes, the podcast makers follow 84-year old Elisa, who is slowly fading into dementia. Only recently, years after her husband died, she has started to mention her old neighbour boy Bob, whom, she says, she has had a secret affair with and who even got her pregnant when she was just fifteen. Her three daughters are surprised; they’ve never even heard of Bob. Did he really exist? Is this truly a story of a romantic first love? And do they have a sibling that was given up for adoption at birth?

Explanation by the maker 
With the support of the Mediafonds and VPRO Dorst we were able to produce our first long form audio series. By investigating the story of Elisa and Bob and constructing the storyline as we did, we wanted to approach the topic of dementia in a different way. Instead of highlighting the improbability of the story of this 84-year old woman, we decided to take her words seriously and worked through hours of tape to carefully listen to what she was trying to dig up from under the layers of time and the taboos of her youth. We searched through libraries, city archives, tracked down several (wrong) family lines – the smallest piece of information was enough to encourage us to keep going. But there were also long periods of time in which we found nothing at all, which caused us to doubt the whole premise of the series. What if what we were tracing was merely a ghost?

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