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Transom Podcast

52 EpisodesProduced by TransomWebsite is an experiment in channeling new work and voices to public radio through the internet, and for discussing that work, and encouraging more. Our podcast offers some tasty little audio morsels to go.


Prostate Diaries

“Prostate Diaries” on PRX

About The Prostate Diaries:

From Jeff Metcalf

A man walks into a doctor’s office for a physical and the doctor says, “You look good. Your heart sounds strong, lungs are clear, urine sample is clean but this next part will be a bit uncomfortable. You want to drop your pants and bend over the table so I can do a digital exam of your prostate? You might feel a slight discomfort.” And, honest to God, I start to laugh because I’m thinking why the hell would anybody stick a digital camera up my ass? All seriousness aside, in 2004 I had a physical that would change my life in ways I could not have expected. I walked out of the doctor’s office feeling very healthy. Four days later, in a phone call to the doctor, I was told my PSA levels were high, very high. Like millions of men all over the world, I had no idea what that meant. I knew this… it couldn’t be good. The doctor’s voice cracked. He suggested that I get a biopsy and talk to my wife. I asked him if I had cancer and he said that he didn’t know but the biopsy would be definitive.

I was about to leave to teach a course in creative writing in Provence, France and then attend a theater conference in Croatia. I’d do the biopsy when I returned. Until then, I’d keep quiet. This was probably one of the most stupid things I’ve done in my entire married life. And there have been many.

While I was traveling abroad, I kept a diary about my feelings. My notes were dark and angry. On my return to the states I was invited to do a reading with several other authors at a venue called City Art. I brought a short story I’d written in Provence and three days of my diary notes that I somehow felt should be read in front of an audience. I was uncertain and uncomfortable about reading from the diary. It was too revealing… too close to the bone. I almost backed out, but didn’t.

The reading changed the course of my life. A director was in the audience and commissioned me to write a full-length play for a local theater. The play ran to sold out crowds every night. A Peabody Award winning journalist asked me to make a radio play about the experience and we did. And, a four-time Emmy award winning filmmaker who was also in the audience offered to make a DVD of the reading if I was interested. His father had died of prostate cancer. This meant something to him. We made the DVD. It is wild and crazy… unrehearsed… insulting to the medical community and almost every institution we hold sacred. It became, in a sense, the framework for the play.

A play about cancer with a talking penis, my mother-in-law and Death (with beautifully capped teeth) is not the play I wanted to write. And yet… here it is doing something important. “A Slight Discomfort” is putting the second leading cause of death for men onstage and bullying it around. It has sharp edges and can cut. And my health? I’ll say this: I’m in trouble. I’m in a knife fight with this psychotic disease. It ain’t over yet and the fat lady hasn’t sung. But every once in a while I can hear her warming her vocals up. She’s got a nice voice. I am still above ground and this is good. I like it here. I pay attention. I don’t miss anything.

From Scott Carrier

I’m not a theater buff or goer. I admit that the theater experience can be perhaps the most amazing art form. I have been blown away. But I have also been in the room of failure. And I have been the object of said failure. So I don’t go, very much.

I went to see Metcalf’s play because I think he writes about living in Salt Lake City as well as anyone ever has, and I thought it might be about living in Salt Lake City. I don’t think I even knew what it was about. I may not even have known he had cancer. I’d been kind of out of the loop for a few years.

It was a premier, an experiment for Metcalf and the Salt Lake Acting Compa...

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