THE SPY GIRL – Isabel Cadenas Cañón – IND – Spain

subtitled video | 32 min


When Rosana was a little girl, her favourite game was to play the spy: she would find a lot of mysteries in her house that she didn’t understand.
The biggest mystery of all: that her mother disappeared from home without explanation.
When Rosana turned 18, the phone rang in her house.
That phone call revealed her mother’s biggest secret: one that has to do with being a woman who dared to break the gender rules of Franco’s dictatorship.

This feature is episode 2 of De eso no se habla [We Don’t Talk About That], a (podcast) show that connects the dots between the personal and the collective silences in Spain. 

Produced by

Isabel Cadenas Cañón


24 thoughts on “THE SPY GIRL – Isabel Cadenas Cañón – IND – Spain


    Hi all.
    I wanted to start the discussion with some questions and prompts to open up the discussion.
    Be both critical and constructive – looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

    What did you think of the opening – the enigma of the white cupboard as seen through a child’s eyes, the mysterious phone call – did this pull you in to the story?

    The programme tells the story by withholding facts, and promising that secrets will be revealed later in the story – did that approach work for you, and was it satisfying for you as a listener when those secrets were revealed?
    Were those ‘reveals’ what you were expecting – did that matter?

    The programme has a literary quality, it acknowledges that this is a “one voice story”.
    Did the pacing work and was there sufficient variety in the music, location recording and other acoustic elements to animate the story as a piece of audio?

    What did you think of the writing, and the proportion of scripted narration to recorded interview?

    The programme talks about “the monsters of pain and silence” – how effectively did this very personal story articulate something broader about this period in Spain’s history?

  2. Hey Isabel,
    Thank you for your podcast.
    I have a short question, just curious.
    Can you tell me something about your organisation “De eso no se habla”?
    (Is that the name of the organisation? Is it local? …Eh ..What is it?)

  3. Hi Willem! “De eso no se habla” is the title my upcoming podcast series. It means “We Don’t Talk About That”, and it’s a sentence many of us grew up with in Spain. The podcast is a series of stories about silences in Spain, and we like to say that our aim is “to connect the dots between personal and collective silences”. We’re launching it next week (yay) but we already produced a special episode during the pandemic, called “Radio Silence”. It comes with an English subtitled video 😉

  4. Hello Isabel, thank you for the story relating to the dark period of Spanish history. I’ve got a question: is such “thick” author’s narration accompanying your main character your choice or is it the idea of the entire series? I couldn’t come closer to Rosana because of quick pace, too short statements, a lack of silence. I guess that Spanish listener is able to find extra levels in this story. My best regards.

    1. Hi Kasia, thanks for your comments. Every episode in the series is different, and some are way less narrated than this episode, yes. There is an authorial choice in accompanying the listener throughout the whole story in this one, for sure. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect with Rosana, will definitely think about what you say. Thanks so much for your honesty and comments.

  5. Hi everyone I think personal story of Rosana Mother reflects quite well General Franco times. But I got lost a little bit in details and chronology maybe because of very quick narration and short statements of Rosana. I have two questions to Isabel Is your story broadcast only like podcast or it will be aired as well? Was it possible for you to use some radio archives from Franco time or some music from this period? It would give more space for listeners and help us to feel the epoch…

    1. Hi Agnieszka,

      Thanks for your comments. For the moment, the whole series will only be available via podcast, even though we’d love to be on the radio 🙂 And as far as the radio archives go, we decided not to use any because we really wanted to get a very bare narration in this podcast and take them to the places with Rosana. Even though I gather from the comments that some listeners would have loved more archival material, yes. Thanks so much for your comments!

  6. Hello Isabel!
    The pacing was a bit intense so it took some time to get used to it – but then it only added to the tension, in a good way. My question is – was the second part of the story, the appendix planned originally, or was it developed later, as you got to know Rosanna better?

    1. Hi Vladimir, thanks for your comment and sorry it took so long to answer! The appendix was part of the story from the beginning, actually. I was equally drawn to her mother’s story as I was to the aftermath of those silences in Rosana’s own life, and I think the story lies exactly there, on how inherited silences cast such a long shadow in our own lives.

  7. Hello Isabel, listened together to your program in Vienna (with Alfred Koch, Claudia Gschweitl, Johanna Hirzberger and Monika Kalcsics). We were intrigued by the storytelling, every 10 minutes a twist, a lot of suspense! Rosannas story is very interesting, – but the title evoked some kind of spy-story during the Franco regime. This expectation was not fulfilled. But nevertheless we listened to it with exitement. Thank you!

    1. Hi Eva, Alfred, Claudia, Johanna and Monika, thanks so so much for that collective listening of my piece. We totally sensed there was a problem with the title and actually changed it to “Someone’s Asking for You”. I think it works much better now, thanks for pointing it out!

  8. I have no problem at all that the secret is not totally revealed. It is good to talk about a secret but is also good a part remains unveiled. Thus, the tension and density of the story is not spoiled by complete transparency. There is still a part of shadow, darkness and clair-obscur The Spy Girl. A door half open is always more intriguing than a wide open one.
    I missed some more information about the ” gender rules” of this époque. Some more context. But bravo!

    1. Edwin, thanks so much for your comment. It’s interesting to see that the secret is not totally revealed for you. I was definitely trying to evoke more than tell, but I wasn’t aware that the secret was not totally revealed for some listeners. I guess we all want to know at different levels.

  9. Hello Isabel, congrats for your very well crafted piece. For me, the pacing was just right. It propelled the story forward and always gave me the background info I needed at a particular moment. De eso no se habla sounds like an exciting project! Wish you all the best.

  10. Hello Isabel,
    I really like your programme, especially the unobtrusive musical background and detailed descriptions. Due to the title, I was expecting a different story, something more about spy in Franco’s regime, but I really liked this one anyway.

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