Podcasts

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Photo courtesy of ilya Tovbis

Director, Washington Jewish Film Festival

The Washington Jewish Film Festival’s director Ilya Tovbis wants to open doors to Jewish life around the world. And for ten days, the Washington DC area is home to some 70 international films both documentaries and narratives from emerging and established directors. Ilya defines a “Jewish film” as a work with “ something deliberately to do with the Jewish experience, culture, history, which is a malleable concept.” Yet, he chooses not to aim the films at a Jewish audience exclusively. He wants the audience to be as diverse as the stories on the screen, which is neither quick nor easy. Now in its 28th year, the Washington Jewish Film Festival has established itself as a prestigious event for filmmakers. How then to reach out to the audience in its own backyard? That’s some of questions Ilya discusses in this podcast.

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Photo courtesy of Kiran Singh Sirah.

Folklorist, Poet, and President of the International Storytelling Center

Folklorist, Poet and President of the International Storytelling Center Kiran Singh Sirah is passionate about the power of stories.  He heads the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee—the oldest festival of its kind in the world and a driving force behind the renaissance in storytelling.  Kiran talks about creating community through stories, the ability of story to transcend petty politics and connect us to what is essential.  His own story is pretty interesting: born in England to parents who had been expelled from their home in Uganda and grandparents who were part of the liberation movement in India.  He understands first-hand the ability of stories to translate cultures to each other.  We also hear a story from NEA National Heritage Fellow Sheila Kay Adams who can spin a tale with the best of them.

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Photo Courtesy of Folger Theatre

Actor

Actor Dria Brown talks about playing Joan in Bedlam’s almost postmodern production of George Bernard Shaw’s St. Joan in DC’s Folger Theatre. It’s stripped down in every way: minimal sets and costumes and a cast of four; Dria plays Joan and only Joan; the other three actors juggle 26 roles. The rehearsals were interesting. We hear about her growing up in South Carolina, how time in her father’s church readied her for the role, and her desire to get the audience to engage with the performance.

CREATIVE FORCES logo

Healing and building community through art

The first part of this week’s podcast looks at Creative Forces : NEA Military Healing Initiative. NEA Chairman Jane Chu and others reflect on the power of art to heal physical and psychological trauma as well as strengthen families and build community. In part 2, Sebastian Junger discusses his book, Tribe—which looks at the profound sense of loss some combat veterans feel when they return from deployment, and the various ways that art and ritual can help them re-enter their communities.

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Courtesy of Nora Atkinson

Curator of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” at the Renwick Gallery of SAAM

Curator Nora Atkinson has brought a sense of that annual hotbed of artistic ingenuity in Nevada’s Black Rock desert with the daring and successful “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.” It’s the hottest exhibit in DC appealing to all ages. The exhibit at Renwick Gallery often has lines around the block—and for good reason. It is dazzling; focusing on massive installations that fill rooms with sight and sound. But please don’t just look. Participate and play with the interactive installations; leave a remembrance behind at the temple, lie down on pillows and watch the ceiling shift and pulsate with light. The exhibit fills the museum and spills out into the streets of Washington DC. In this week’s podcast, Nora Atkinson talks about the practical and visionary aspects of bringing this very particular desert art to Washington DC.

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Photo by Laurie Kieth

Cartoonist and Multimedia Artist

Cartoonist and multimedia artist Liz Reed is co-creator with her husband Jimmy of Cuddles and Rage—it’s a world inhabited by food with quirky personalities. Liz calls it “disturbingly cute,” which seems about right. In one-panel cartoons, dioramas, and animated short videos, Liz and Jimmy Reed create work that is cute—but it always has a twist. Take Dr. Taquito—a serial killer of food, who gives cooking lessons—ruthlessly shredding lettuce and chopping tomatoes as the poor vegetable victims try to get away. It’s an unashamedly playful and dark imaginative work. In today’s podcast, Liz takes through the creation and evolution of the singular world of Cuddles and Rage.

Watch video: Cooking with Dr. Taquito: 3 Ingredient Pancakes.

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Photo courtesy of CSSSA

Director California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA)

A conversation with Michael Fields, director of California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). For 32 years, CSSSA has been training the next generation of artists. Each summer, CSSSA gives approximately 500 motivated and talented California high school students in the visual, literary, performing and media arts an intensive learning experience. Conducted by distinguished arts professionals, the four-week residential program is designed to hone the students’ artistic skills and to help give each student a sense of their potential as creative artists. Michael Fields discusses the thinking that went into the program’s creation, its rigorous course of study, and the talented students who rise to the challenges.

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Courtesy of Jennifer Haigh

Novelist and NEA Literature Fellow

In Jennifer Haigh’s fifth novel Heat and Light, she returns to the fictional town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania: its prosperity withered with the closing of the coalmines. So when it’s learned that the area is rich in natural gas, many people are eager to sign over their mineral rights to energy companies. And the debate about fracking and all that it entails upends the community. Jennifer Haigh knows her subject well; she was raised in a former coal town that also sits on deposits of natural gas. In our conversation she talks about her hometown and how it’s become the basis for much of her writing, the pull of the past on the present and the legacy of North Appalachia’s geology.

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Photo by Nazia Abbas

Poet and essayist Seema Reza investigates loss and love with ruthless honesty and lyrical power in her book, When the World Breaks Open. In this week’s podcast, Reza discusses writing her life and her determination to reveal herself on the page through poems, essays, fragments and observations, recipes—whatever it took to tell her story precisely and thoroughly. The result is at times heartbreaking but not grim. She owns her sorrow, but she’s also fierce and joyful in her determination to be known for herself.

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Photo by John Peden

Guitarist and 2018 NEA Jazz Master

Guitarist and 2018 NEA Jazz Master Pat Metheny creates music that challenges easy description: he can play free jazz (as he did with Ornette Coleman in Song X) as well as acoustic guitar and pretty much everything in-between. In this tune-filled podcast, we talk to Pat Metheny about the music he plays, the people he’s played with and making the music you want while making a career in music.

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Photo by Justus Poehis

Poet and 2015 NEA Literature Fellow

Her poetry collection Scriptorium illuminate her Appalachian Roots.

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Photo by Carol Friedman

Pianist and 2108 NEA Jazz Master

Uncovering new dimensions of music.

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Photo by Alysa Turner

Urban Arias Opera Company

Contemporary opera for contemporary audiences.

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Photo by Dese’Rae L. Stage

Author of The Big Read selection "Station Eleven"

A novel about what endures when civilization ends.

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Photo by Jerris Madison

Vocalist and 2018 NEA Jazz Master

Making music without boundaries.

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