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Sean Wilentz
Photo by Daniel Kramer

Author

Here's part 2 of our conversation with Sean Wilentz, author of Bob Dylan in America. [28:26]

Isabel Wilkerson
Photo by Joe Henson

Author

Isabel Wilkerson talks about her book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, focusing on the transfer of Southern culture to the North, creating a new, vibrant culture in the country. [25:33]

Matthew Wiley
Photo Courtesy of The Good of the Hive. All rights reserved

Muralist

The Good of the Hive is more than an art project.

John Williams
Photo courtesy of Mr. Williams

Composer and conductor

2009 National Medal of Arts recipient, composer John Williams discusses the art of scoring films. [27:51]

Terry Tempest Williams. Photo by Louis Gakumba
Photo by Louis Gakumba

Writer and Naturalist

In her latest book, When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams explores the legacy of her mother’s journals. [28:11]

Headshot of Joe Wilson wearing a straw hat.
Photo by Tom Pich

NEA National Heritage Fellow, Advocate for Folk and Traditional Arts

2001 NEA National Heritage Fellow Joe Wilson weaves his storytelling spell into the history of Blue Ridge Mountain culture.

Natasha Wimmer
Photo courtesy of Ms. Wimmer

NEA Literature Fellow for Translation

Natasha Wimmer was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2007 to translate Roberto Bolaño's epic novel 2666. In this interview, she discusses the complexities of translating Bolaño's work and other tribulations of working as a translator. [27:08]

Brenda Wineapple
Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Literary biographer

Literary biographer Brenda Wineapple discusses her book, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. [28:47]

Headshot of Michael Witmore

Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library

Shakespeare’s World and Ours.

Headshot of a woman.
Photo by Peter Serling

Composer

Composer Julia Wolfe recently premiered her third oratorio that is centered on American labor history—this latest piece is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that occurred in New York City in 1911. 146 workers—most of them immigrant women—died. Julia was determined not show these women as victims, but rather as resourceful people who had the courage to travel to a new country and band together to struggle for better working conditions. Fire in my mouth, a multi-media work, opened with the New York Philharmonic as its orchestra, a chorus of 146 women, a sold-out house and a cheering standing ovation. It was a good night.

Julia Wolfe, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur fellowship, has a large and varied body of work. A composer that is hard to classify, she not only embraces all musical genres, she hears sound itself as a music which is helpful when you want to recreate the particular roar of a factory floor. In this week’s podcast, Julia talks about her deep interest in history, her wide embrace of music and her methods for translating the sounds of work into music.

Headshot of a man.
Photo by Cathy Waite

US Army Veteran, actor, and founder of DE-CRUIT

Stephan Wolfert had been in the army for six years when he saw his close friend killed during a training exercise. Wolfert “lost it,” as he put it, hopped a train, and went on a drinking binge that lasted quite a while. He ended up in Montana and wandered into a theater where Richard III was being performed. Wolfert saw in the title character a veteran like himself who did not fit in and who spoke directly and eloquently to the audience about his anger and contempt for those that did. Wolfert’s life was transformed. He left the army, went to graduate school to study acting, and immersed himself in Shakespeare. He quickly saw that Shakespeare populated his plays with soldiers and veterans who faced their own bloody losses and seemed to speak directly to the trauma Wolfert was facing. Believing that Shakespeare and theater could be as transformative for others as it is for him, he began working with veterans using Shakespeare to help them unpack their own experiences. He eventually started the non-profit DE-CRUIT whose basic premise is theater is medicine and Shakespeare can be the key to healing. In this podcast, Stephan talks about his time in the military, his “Aha!” moment in Montana, how Shakespeare helps veterans both penetrate and contain their own experiences, and the unlikely parallels between theater and the military.

Heather Wood
Photo courtesy of Bauman Redanty and Shaul

Actor

Heather Wood talks about the joys and challenges of performing Shakespeare. [27:31]

Headshot of a woman.
Photo by Juna F. Nagle

2014 National Book Award Recipient

With Another Brooklyn, acclaimed children’s author Jacqueline Woodson creates an adult novel that reads like poetry

Headshot of a woman.
Courtesy of the Shakespeare Theater Company

Actor

For a young actor, only four years out of the conservatory, Ayana Workman has amassed an impressive resume, including: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (at the public Theater in NYC and the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington DC), Perdita in Winter’s Tale (again at the Public) and Banquo in MacBeth at the Lucille Lortel Theater in NYC. But frankly, these roles seem like a walk in the park compared to her next play Everybody by MacArthur Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins which opened the season at DC’s Shakespeare Theater Company. In Everybody, which based on the 15th century morality play Everyman, the actors rotate their parts randomly via lottery for every performance. So, they find out in real time, in front of the audience, which character they’ll be playing that evening. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of guts and no small amount of talent to do. And while many of Ayana’s friends told her she was crazy, Ayana was eager to take it on. If she relishes creative challenges, it runs in the family. Her dad is 2020 NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman and her mother is dancer and choreographer Maya Milenovic Workman. Ayana grew up in a household steeped in creativity, filled with access to music, dance, theater—all the arts, really. As she said, she grew up thinking it was normal for musicians to have jam sessions in her home every weekend or to fall asleep as she listened to her father’s playing in a jazz club. In this podcast, Ayana talks about her parents’ influences on her career as well as all aspects of performing in Everybody—from learning the script to rehearsing to getting up on stage not knowing who you’re going to play that evening and the special bond that cast has formed because they all, at one time or another, play the same parts. She’s smart, honest and ridiculously charming.

Headshot of a man.
Photo by Richard Kholer

Bassist and 2020 NEA Jazz Master

Bassist and 2020 NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman is aptly named. The man might not have played with everyone in jazz, but he has come close. I don’t want this to turn into a list of Workman’s gigs, so I’ll just touch on some of the major ones: He was a member of both the John Coltrane Quartet playing in such legendary recordings as Live at the Village Vanguard, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers during one of the band’s great line-ups. According to Reggie, Coltrane and Blakey were very different leaders: Coltrane gave his band a lot of freedom while Blakey knew exactly what he wanted. Because he could play any style of jazz from the American songbook to avant-garde, he became the go-to bassist for Blue Note Records backing folks from Abbey Lincoln to David Murray. He’s also led his own groups like the Reggie Workman Ensemble and performed in collaborative trios. In this wide-ranging conversation, Workman talks about what makes a good supporting artist and what he was looking for when he began his group. As professor at the New School for more than 30 years, Workman also talked about teaching and helping young musicians to understand “there are mistakes (in jazz),…but you have to be able to justify each note.” This music-filled podcast is a look at a fascinating artist.

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