Life, Death, and the Rhythms In-Between: “Echoes” and the Power of Narrative Podcasting

Echoes double O The human experience is filled with wonder and mystery, and no question has been pondered more than what happens when the body dies. What realms lie beyond this physical plane? Will you come back to live again? Perhaps again and again? While countless philosophies and religions have sought to answer this question, the truth is still debated. But what if reincarnation were scientifically proven to exist? What would the world look like? The genuinely captivating narrative podcast “Echoes,” created by Holly Payne-Strange and Heidi C. Bordogna, explores reincarnation with a fresh, one-of-a-kind perspective and with the help of a star-studded cast.

Nearly ten years ago writer, director, and podcast creator Payne-Strange envisioned a narrative audio drama examining the effect of living daily life with the concrete knowledge of reincarnation. Echoes asks questions like whether love survives death, what we owe each other, and if someone behaves in a truly heinous manner in one life, should they be punished in the next? A short time later, Payne-Strange met director/writer/producer, and professor Bordogna. Together, the two indie creators drew on inspiration from deeply personal stories to begin crafting the series, which covers a wide range of narratives.

After almost a decade of the slow and intense grind to see their vision realized, Payne-Strange and Bordogna have assembled a stunning series filled with gifted actors and deeply original writing. Among the most notable performers on the series is the  Broadway and film star of Rent, Adam Pascal. Pascal has a Tony nomination for his performance in Something Rotten and received a Theater World Award.

Other captivating performances are brought to life by Seinfeld’s one and only J. Peterman, who is better known in his personal life as John O’Hurley. O’Hurley lends his unparalleled skills and captivating voice to multiple episodes. Emmy winner, while hilarious stand-up comedian Bret Ernst and rising star Lee Shorten bring some fun humor to another. All these performances are brought together under the unique scope of talented composer Colin Bell. His genuinely original vision brings an incredible atmospheric feel to each story.

Screenshot 2023 09 19 at 7.29.48 PM

Although Echoes deals mainly with death, the show has a way of bending what could be a depressing experience into a positive one, clearly aligned with love and human connection.  “Many Episodes of Echoes have been inspired by my wife, and the deep love I have for her.” Payne-Strange says. “It was important for me to create a sci-fi show with strong LGBT+ characters. This isn’t a show about being gay, it’s simply a podcast in which awesome people do awesome things- and many of those people are not straight or cis gendered. Their genders and sexuality impact them as characters, of course, but it’s not about that. As a proud member of the LGBT+ community, I think it’s important to have us be part of stories that are not focused on this one aspect of us.”This focus on dynamic LGBT+ characters can be especially seen in episodes such as ”The Jewel of Arborea”, where a non binary character (played with considerable success by Austin Owens Kelly) is on the hunt for lost treasure. Or  “interesting times” where soul mapper Clara must navigate both her relationship with her girlfriend and the increasing conflict between her job and morals. Played by Brennie Tellu and Alex Sarrigeorgiou respectively, there is real passion and life in these characters.

With one outstanding season completed, Payne-Strange and Bordogna look forward to beginning season two of the series. The creators have also worked on other platforms and within other mediums, exemplified by  Strange and Twisted Things by Payne-Strange, a gothic horror novel set within the heart of Italy, following the twists and turns of two desperate women.

Also check out her latest sci-fi novel  All Of Us Alone, now on pre-order.

While the anticipation of further work from these thoughtful creators builds, Echoes continues to broaden the horizon of what it means to simply be human.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.