Art

Courtesy Photo

Thursday, we’re talking about one of the great classics of American theater, A Streetcar Named Desire. It was 70 years ago when Marlon Brando first played Stanley Kowalski on Broadway, but the themes of sexual violence, homophobia, addiction, and family strife still resonate today. A new production at Salt Lake City’s Grand Theatre opens this week, so we’re exploring Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece and how it’s become, as one guest puts it, enshrined in America’s psyche.

Courtesy Photo

Thursday, we’re talking about the lives of refugees with the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nguyen came to this country when he was four, and he says there’s a tendency to separate the stories of immigrants from the stories of war. The people who seek refuge here though, he says, often have war stories to tell. Nguyen is in Utah, and joins us to explain what it’s like to be an outsider.

From book cover, Open Midnight

Wednesday, our guest is writer and environmental advocate Brooke Williams. Williams spent a year alone verifying maps of the southern Utah desert, where he felt a deep connection to the landscape. He wanted to understand that connection, and found an answer in the imagined story of his ancestor William Williams. Nature and wilderness, he concludes in his new book, are part of his DNA. Brooke Williams joins Doug to talk about listening to the “archaic whisper” of the past, and how saving the land can save us.


Kirsten Johnson’s 25-year career as a documentary film cinematographer has taken her around the world, often to regions of conflict. Her own film, Cameraperson, is a memoir of her life’s work assembled from a collage of cutting-room-floor footage. It’s also a keen examination of the dilemmas and blind spots that riddle documentary filmmaking. Johnson joins us Monday as we continue our Through the Lens series on documentary film with an exploration of what it’s like to be behind the camera.

Courtesy Plan-B Theatre Company

Hildegard of Bingen was a 12th century abbess, composer, healer, and visionary. Everyone from the Pope to the lowliest novitiate believed she was in direct communication with God. But mid-life, Hildegard's visions changed, and some historians believe it was because she fell in love with another woman. The story is the basis of Utah playwright Tim Slover’s latest work, and Friday, we’re talking about this fascinating woman, and the search for balance between spirituality and the gift of love.

Sundance 2017: 78/52

Jan 26, 2017

Thursday, we're wrapping up our coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival with director Alexandre Phillipe and his documentary film 78/52. The film’s title refers to the 78 setups and 52 cuts that make up one of the most iconic moments in cinematic history: the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho. Phillipe’s film is equal parts love letter and textual analysis. It examines the scene’s audacity both in the context of the film and in the broader context of American society on the brink of upheaval.

Art and Activism

Jan 18, 2017

Wednesday, the legendary choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones is among our guests. We recorded a conversation last night at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City. We were also joined by playwright Taylor Mac and director Niegel Smith. It was a conversation about getting an audience to be part of the process. We also talked about the ways artists are often activists, and what it will mean to make art at this transitional moment in American culture.

Wednesday, we’re talking about August Wilson, one of the great American playwrights … period. That doesn’t need the qualifier that he was a black playwright. But his plays were about the black experience in this country, and one of his masterpieces was Fences. Denzel Washington’s film version is now in theaters, and the stage version has just opened at Pioneer Theatre Company. We’re taking the opportunity to talk about the heart breaking beauty of August Wilson’s work.

A Christmas Carol

Dec 23, 2016

In the fall of 1843, Charles Dickens was in something of a mid-life crisis. His marriage was troubled, his career tottering, his finances on the verge of collapse. He even considered giving up writing. He didn’t, of course. Instead, he wrote his most famous work, A Christmas Carol, in just six weeks, and then self-published it. As the historian and writer Les Standiford notes, Dickens’ famous Christmas tale didn’t just change his life, it reinvented the way we celebrate the holiday. We’ll talk with Standiford about A Christmas Carol on Friday. (Rebroadcast)

Best Music of 2016

Dec 14, 2016
Sur Name, via Flickr/CC http://bit.ly/2huquIt, http://bit.ly/1mhaR6e

NPR music critic Bob Boilen says 2016 was a year of surprises—good and bad. It started in January with the unexpected release of a new David Bowie album. Two days later, Bowie was dead. That loss, and many others, was bookended by a terrific new record by Leonard Cohen, who then also passed away. Both are in Boilen’s list of the top 10 albums of 2016, which includes debutants, hidden gems, and another elder statesman. Boilen joins us Wednesday to talk about his picks for the best music of the year.

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