Art

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.

Salt Lake Acting Company

Tuesday, we’re talking about Utah playwright Julie Jensen’s Winter, premiering this week at Salt Lake Acting Company. It’s the story of a woman sinking into dementia and determined to end her life before she loses her dignity. Her husband isn’t ready to carry out their pact though, and her sons argue over what they think is best for their parents. Jensen and others join us to talk about the difficult choices facing each character, and why Jensen says this subject is “hideously important.”

The Last Ship

Sep 22, 2016
Photo by Brent Uberty. Courtesy Pioneer Theatre Company

The musician Sting says writer’s block led him back to the hometown he had worked so hard to escape. Wallsend was a shipbuilding center in Northern England, but he was never interested in being a shipwright. The stories of the men and women there called to him though, and they became the basis for his musical The Last Ship. Pioneer Theatre Company opened its production last week, and Thursday, director Karen Azenberg and others join us to talk about the themes of work, identity, and coming home.

Local Music: 3hattrio

Sep 19, 2016

What do you get if you cross a cowboy singer, a Caribbean percussionist and a classical violinist? Well, if it happens in Virgin, Utah, folklorist and musician Hal Cannon says you get a new kind of Western music. He’s the cowboy singer and 1/3 of 3hattrio. They’ve just released their third album, and Monday, he joins us along with career musician Greg Istock and 19-year-old Eli Wrankle to explain why they say the West was ready for a new genre and how they began creating “desert music.”

In a run-down commercial block in Salt Lake City, Ralphael Plescia has spent some 50 years making art that tells the story of creation as he understands it. He’s hollowed out tunnels, built narrow bridges over bubbling groundwater, and his sculptures are embedded in the walls. Wednesday, we profile a new short film that asks why Ralphael has made this his life work and what will happen to it when he dies. We’ll also explore other “outsider” Utah artists who bring a unique view to our world.

Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2016

Utah Shakespeare Festival is performing Much Ado About Nothing, and we’re using it as an excuse to talk about Shakespeare’s women. Scholar Kate McPherson says few Elizabethan playwrights created female characters as rich as the Bard, and that Much Ado is his most sophisticated play about women. It features Beatrice, a feisty and fearless lady who has forsworn love. McPherson, actor Kim Martin-Cotten, and director David Ivers join us to talk about Beatrice and the challenges and opportunities afforded women in Shakespeare’s world.

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