Sunday, December 29, 2013

Show for Dec 29, 2013. Award-Winning Musical Comedy Writers Do “Lunch”

A musical gets a second life as Cabrillo Stage rolls out a new version of Lunch: A Modern Musical Myth this week. I spoke to two members of the Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Golden Globe-nominated creative team: composer Steve Dorff and book writer Rick Hawkins. They told me why they felt the story of 11th-hour redemption was ripe for revival, and how they updated both script and songs. We also listened to some of the original music, recorded in 1994 with an all-star studio cast including Carol Burnett, Michael Rupert, Laurie Beechman and Davis Gaines. Lunch Reimagined premieres Jan 3 at Cabrillo Stage. More info here.

Click the Listen arrow at the top of this post to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Show for Feb 24, 2013. The New Peer Gynt.

150 years after its creation, Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt remains sui generis and uncategorizable: folktale and fever dream, existential inquiry and social satire, straddling romanticism and modernism. Its locales include Norwegian mountain villages, a troll castle, the Moroccan coast and a Cairo lunatic asylum. A new adaptation mounted by Kimberly Jannarone at UC Santa Cruz turns Gynt into a kind of living gallery, with different scenes staged simultaneously in multiple venues and the audience wandering among them. Kimberly spoke to me about the history of the play, her own Gynt-mania (including a trip to Gynt’s Norwegian stomping grounds) and the play’s enduring popularity. Joining us was actor Nancy Carlin, who plays Peer Gynt’s mother, Åse, in the production.

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Show for April 29, 2012. Facts and the Finicky Folks Who Check Them

Mike Daisey’s fibs on This American Life and their unmasking got me thinking about competing definitions of truth—artistic and journalistic—and the way they get blurred by storytelling. In part 1 of today’s show, I spoke to Craig Silverman, who’s written about fact-checking and who monitors journalistic accuracy in his blog Regret the Error. In part 2, erstwhile fact-checker Jim Fingal, author of The Lifespan of a Fact with John D’Agata. The book recounts the many arguments the two had when Fingal was an intern at The Believer magazine, tasked with vetting one of D’Agata’s essays.

 
Craig Silverman                                      Jim Fingal (L) with John D’Agata

Click the Play arrow above to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Show for Feb 26, 2012. Ancient Stories, New Technology: The Thinning Veil

Everybody loves a good dysfunctional family drama, which is one reason the Oresteia and other Greek tales of the strife-torn House of Atreus have never gone out of fashion. Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Electra and the gang are at it again in a new play premiering this week at UC Santa Cruz. The production draws freely on classical sources including the Illiad and the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and adds a high-tech twist: it takes place simultaneously on two stages representing two distinct realities, bridged by live video streaming. I spoke with writer/director Kirsten Brandt and producer Ted Warburton, both of UCSC’s Theater Arts Department, about the performance, the timeless truths of Greek tragedy and the use of “telematic” technology in theater.

More details on the performance, which runs from Mr. 2 through 11, here.

Click the Play arrow above to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Show for May 15, 2011. Committed to Memory: Trimpin and the Gurs Zyklus

The Gurs prison camp in southern France didn’t rank with the most notorious Nazi concentration camps. There were no gas chambers or ovens. But conditions were bad enough for the thousands of Jews interned there, and the lack of a fitting memorial has long troubled the German-born sound artist Trimpin. His latest work, the Gurs Zyklus (the Gurs Cycle), commemorates this little-known chapter of the Holocaust with an elaborate stage performance, featuring some of Trimpin’s fanciful musical inventions. I talked to participants on the eve of the piece’s premier at Stanford University. Included are interviews with Trimpin, director/performer Rinde Eckert, Gurs survivor Manfred Wildman, and Victor Rosenberg, whose grandparents and uncle were imprisoned at Gurs. Also included: some of the sounds of the Gurs Cycle, such as the fire organ, shown here:

Click the “play” arrow above to listen to the show, or download the MP3 here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Show for May 8, 2011. Nora Bateson on the Philosopher Gregory Bateson; Actresses Rivera Sun Cook and Robin Aronson on Getting into Character

Part 1: The late philosopher, anthropologist and environmentalist Gregory Bateson wanted to change the way we think, attending less to things in themselves and more to the connections between them. I talked to his daughter Nora Bateson, whose new documentary An Ecology of Mind offers her perspective on her father’s work. The film screens Saturday, May 14 at the Santa Cruz Film Festival. More on Gregory Bateson at edge.org.

Part 2: I’ve long been curious how stories and characters enter the heads of authors and actors. A new trio of plays from Rivera Sun Cook gave me a chance to inquire further. Rivera plays all 30 roles—characters young, old, black, white, Asian and Latino. I spoke to her and Robin Aronson, the plays’ director and an actress herself. More on the performance and showtimes.

Click the “play” arrow above to listen to the interview, or download the MP3 here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Show for Feb. 20, 2011. The Past Isn’t Even Past: Kinan and Luis Valdez

Luis Valdez, playwright and founder of El Teatro Campesino, and his son Kinan, also a writer, actor and theater director, discuss Luis’s play Mummified Deer. The play is currently being directed by Kinan for the Theater Arts Department at U.C. Santa Cruz. It’s a story of family secrets, the return of the repressed—including a bloody and little-known chapter of Mexican history—and the complexities of identity. Luis and Kinan also talk about their own family history, their lives in the theater and Luis’s aesthetic of rascuachismo (listen to the interview for the translation).

Click the “play” arrow above to listen to the interview, or download the MP3 here.

 

More on Mummified Deer performances at UC Santa Cruz.
Visit El Teatro Campesino’s website.
Bonus info: during the interview, Kinan Valdez mentioned the influence of the carpa tradition. Read about it here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Show for Oct. 17, 2010. From Prison to the Stage: The Poetic Justice Project

The Poetic Justice Project is a theater company for the formerly incarcerated, presenting stories of prison and jail by people who’ve been there. Members of the project discuss their lives behind bars and after parole, the impact of prison art programs and their performances in a new musical drama, Off the Hook, that’s been touring California.

Click the “play” arrow above to listen, or download the MP3 here.

Poetic Justice Project website.