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On the Radio with Greg and Chris

January 8, 2007

Spent the morning over at KALW’s studio appearing as a guest on the NPR affiliate’s “Your Call” show. The show covers a variety of political and cultural topics. There were three of us on the call: Greg Hubbard, casting associate at ACT, Chris Smith, artistic director at The Magic, and me. The show was supposed to be a “spring preview” in which we discussed shows that we are excited about seeing at the theatre in the coming weeks. ACT and The Magic -- both celebrating 40th anniversaries this year -- were also supposed to talk about how they manage to innovate and “keep things fresh” (as host Rose kept saying) over so many decades. I would argue that it’s hard for any performing arts group to keep innovating after all these years, but I didn’t get to contribute to that particular part of the discussion. What was interesting about the session was how it evolved over the course of one hour.

Start theatre people talking about what shows they’re excited about seeing and you fall into a child’s dressing up box of voluminous hats, magic cloaks, and strange shoes. I felt like I could go on for hours. We barely scratched the surface. There are so many exciting things going on in the Bay Area, theatre-wise right now. Celebrating the 40th anniversaries of two aging companies seems besides the point when you consider the fact that Berkeley Rep is doing a world premiere production of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and bringing Neil Bartlett’s Oliver Twist to town; that Lou Harrison and Philip Glass are shortly going to premiere new operas here; and that the ever-formidable Mark Jackson is launching his play American $uicide with Z Space in a few weeks time. Still, I thought we had one of the best discussions about theatre I’ve had in ages, all in all. And I have a lot of respect for KALW for paying attention to local arts. Apparently, the station’s producers are planning more theatre-themed discussions for the future. I hope I’m invited.

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