Art

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.

Radio Hour Episode 11: Yuletide

Dec 8, 2016
Public Domain

RadioWest and Plan-B Theatre Company return with Radio Hour Episode 11. This year's radio drama takes on the holidays, with three stories adapted by local playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett. The first two are family-friendly classics: "The Little Match Girl" and "The Gift of the Magi." The last one though is a French Christmas legend about Hans Trapp, an anti-Santa character who cooks and eats the children who are naughty. It's called "The Black Knight."

Whether the holidays mean sitting at home next to a fireplace or travelling in a cramped airplane, our guests on Wednesday have the perfect literary companion for anyone on your gift list. Catherine Weller of Weller Book Works, Betsy Burton of The King's English, and Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books join Doug to suggest fiction and nonfiction that will fit neatly under the tree for both children and adults.

The Nutcracker

Dec 2, 2016
Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

The dance scholar Jennifer Fisher says that The Nutcracker, at least in North America, has become as "regular as clockwork." Some may find it cliche and for some it may be obligatory. But Fisher argues that Tchaikovsky's piece is one of the most powerful traditions in the world of ballet and that it tells us a lot about the values we share. Friday, Doug talks to Fisher and Ballet West CEO and Artistic Director Adam Sklute about The Nutcracker and the place it holds in our culture. (Rebroadcast)

One Big Union

Nov 15, 2016

Tuesday, we’re talking about a new play that explores the trial and execution of labor activist Joe Hill. Playwright and legal scholar Debora Threedy says whether Hill was guilty or not, he didn’t get a fair trial. Her play looks at what went wrong, the efforts to save him, the complicated politics of his case, and how Hill’s words live on in music more than a century after his death. Threedy and researcher Jeremy Harmon join us to talk about the production. It’s called ONE BIG UNION.

At the center of author Richard Rubin’s latest book, The Last of the Doughboys, are several dozen extraordinary individuals, all more than a century old, all now passed away. They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American forces that fought in World War I, 19th-century men and women living in the 21st century. Rubin’s book chronicles their remarkable stories and he joins us to to relate how the forgotten war and its forgotten veterans created the modern world. (Rebroadcast)

Photo courtesy of The Orchard

As a young boy, Owen Suskind went years without saying a single word. He was autistic, and his parents worried that he’d never be able to relate to other people. One day, they discovered they could communicate with the help of classic Disney animated films that Owen adored. He could recite the films verbatim, and they helped him understand the complex cues of social interaction. Director Roger Ross Williams' film Life, Animated is about Owen’s emotional coming-of-age story, and he’ll join us to talk about it.

Jerry Schatzberg

Thursday, Doug sat down with novelist Jonathan Lethem as part of the Utah Humanities Book Festival. It’s hard to pin him down to one genre, but Lethem’s wry humor and stinging social commentary have earned him accolades like a MacArthur “genius” grant. His new novel follows a handsome, international backgammon gambler who is, in Lethem’s words, “being reworked by life.” Friday, we’re airing our conversation with Jonathan Lethem about his artistic journey, and why it is he’s never read one of his own books.

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