Arts + Life

Arts + Life
5:34 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

How Broadway Is Losing Its 'Middle Ground'

Side Show tells the true story of conjoined twins who go from a freak show to vaudeville and try, unsuccessfully, to find love along the way. "We just did not get enough bodies and butts in seats that translate into word of mouth," says Side Show producer Darren Bagert. Above (from left): Ryan Silverman, Emily Padgett, Erin Davie and Matthew Hydzik.
Joan Marcus O+M Co.

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 11:03 am

Broadway is New York's biggest tourist attraction and brought in $1.3 billion in ticket sales last season. But it's also a high-stakes gamble for producers, since only 1 in 4 Broadway shows turns a profit. This month, two of the fall's most highly anticipated musicals, a revival of Side Show and The Last Ship, with songs by Sting, have thrown in the towel — closing, having lost almost their entire investments.

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Arts + Life
2:02 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

A Rare Bird: After 120 Years, Audiences Still Flock To 'Swan Lake'

Swan Lake is 120 years old and still popular. The Mariinsky Theatre's current tour of the ballet at BAM in New York City is nearly sold-out.
Valentin Baranovsky BAM

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 8:39 am

The version of Swan Lake most often performed today premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, 120 years ago this month. The ballet had been staged before, but it wasn't a hit until choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov revised it.

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Arts + Life
8:16 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Craft Reactions special with Neil Gaiman, Veronica Roth, and Vienna Teng

Image of Walter White by Dominic LaRiccia
Credit Dominic LaRiccia / Spork Design

In this hour-long special, broadcast on January 17 at 3 pm, I explored creativity with reactions from Columbus illustrators Dominic LaRiccia and Drew Robinson and Ohio State University Associate Director of University Bands Scott A. Jones via quotations from Craft guests Neil Gaiman, Veronica Roth, and Vienna Teng. Wonder what makes someone creative tick? Listen here.

  

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Arts + Life
11:25 am
Mon January 19, 2015

A Memoir Of A Family's Diaspora, And A Mother's Depression

Cover detail of The Girl from Human Street.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has quite the family history. It starts in Lithuania with his great-grandparents — and then the moving begins.

"In each of the past four generations, the family has moved. Lithuania, South Africa, London," Cohen tells NPR's Arun Rath. "My parents were born in South Africa, and [then] they were immigrants in the U.K., where I was born. Then when I was an infant, we went back to South Africa for a couple of years, then moved to Britain, where I mainly grew up."

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Arts + Life
3:35 am
Mon January 19, 2015

What Does Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy Look Like To A 5-Year-Old?

Elspeth Ventresca, center, and the rest of Carolyn Barnhardt's prekindergarten class at John Eaton Elementary School wear the crowns they made to celebrate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 12:07 pm

It's morning meeting time. "When Dr. King was little, he learned a golden rule," sings a class of 4- and 5-year-olds with their teacher, Carolyn Barnhardt.

John Eaton Elementary School, a public school in Washington, D.C., is unusual. It sits in one of the District's wealthiest neighborhoods, but the majority of students hail from different parts of the city, making it one of the most racially and economically diverse elementary schools in the nation's capital.

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Arts + Life
5:19 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Broken Promises On Display At Native American Treaties Exhibit

Suzan Shown Harjo points to a signature on Treaty K at the National Archives. The document will be on display in 2016 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian for an exhibit on treaties curated by Harjo.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 5:33 pm

For centuries, treaties have defined the relationship between many Native American nations and the U.S. More than 370 ratified treaties have helped the U.S. expand its territory and led to many broken promises made to American Indians.

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Arts + Life
3:23 am
Fri January 16, 2015

By Making A Game Out Of Rejection, A Man Conquers Fear

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 7:56 am

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

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Arts + Life
9:21 am
Thu January 15, 2015

'Birdman,' 'Grand Budapest Hotel,' With 9 Nominations Each, Lead Oscar Race

Chris Pine and Cheryl Boone Isaacs announce the film The Theory of Everything during the Best Picture category at the Oscar Nominations announcement on Jan. 15 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Francis Specker Landov

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 8:56 am

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel topped the list of nominations – with nine each — announced today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They were followed by The Imitation Game with eight Oscar nominations and American Sniper and Boyhood, with six each.

Birdman, a film about a movie superhero actor who has flamed out, earned a best picture nomination, as well as a best actor nomination for Micheal Keaton and a best director nod for Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu.

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Arts + Life
6:33 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Nancy Grace Says 'Gone Girl' Satire Was Flattering, Made Her Laugh Out Loud

The movie Gone Girl fictionalizes and satirizes cable news star Nancy Grace (above). Grace, host of a true crimes and current affairs show on HLN, says she was flattered.
Mark Hill AP

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 10:26 am

Among those hoping for an Academy Award nomination on Thursday are the producers of the Fox Studios thriller Gone Girl. The film centers on marital strife, a mysterious disappearance and the murder investigation that ensues.

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Arts + Life
2:09 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

In 'Broad City,' Two Women Make Comedy From The 'Muck' Of New York Living

On Broad City, Abbi Jacobson (left) and Ilana Glazer play two single, 20-somethings living in New York City with dead-end jobs. They spend a lot of time hanging out, smoking weed and making each other laugh.
Walter Thompson Courtesy of Comedy Central

Comedy Central's television show Broad City has been compared to Girls and Sex and the City, but when co-creators, co-writers and co-stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were creating the web series that ended up being a prototype of their TV show, they were actually channeling Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Arts + Life
2:12 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

'Man Seeking Woman' Examines How It Feels To Be Single, Dating And Rejected

On Man Seeking Woman, Jay Baruchel plays Josh, who is getting used to dating again after a breakup.
Michael Gibson FXX

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 3:47 pm

Describing Man Seeking Woman, the new comedy series premiering Wednesday on the FXX cable network, isn't going to be easy.

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Arts + Life
1:40 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Learning About The Human Mind, Magically

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:39 am

Which is a better magic trick: turning a dove into a glass of milk, or a glass of milk into a dove? Turning a rose into a vase, or a vase into a rose?

For most people, the way these transformations go makes a big difference. In each case, they find the transformation from a nonliving object to a living thing more interesting — but why? Is it just more exciting to see a living thing appear than to have it vanish? Or is there something deeper at work?

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Arts + Life
7:06 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Big Wins For 'Transparent' Make It Clear: TV's Undergoing A Revolution

Tina Fey, Margaret Cho and Amy Poehler talk onstage during the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Fey and Poehler hosted the awards for the third (and, they say, final) time.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:25 am

Surrounded by his cast mates and the show's executive producer, Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor faced a crowd of journalists backstage at the Golden Globe awards Sunday, and made the case for why his win as best actor in a comedy meant more than a typical Hollywood honor.

"This is about changing people's lives," said Tambor, who won his award playing a 70-year-old coming out as transgender. Earlier, while accepting his award on national TV, he dedicated his award and performance to the transgender community.

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Arts + Life
11:16 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Matt Burgess: Writing Great Characters and Ambition

Before graduating from Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota’s MFA program, Matt Burgess grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. His hometown has served as the location for both his first novel, Dogfight, A Love Story, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and his latest novel, this January’s Uncle Janice.

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Arts + Life
2:04 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

A Former Inmate And The 'Mother' Who Buoys Him

Darlene Lewis, 60, and James Taylor, 40, sat down to talk for StoryCorps in Little Rock, Ark.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 9:31 am

James Taylor says it was almost impossible to find a job after he was released from prison in 1999. He had been serving 7 years for weapons possession and drug charges.

But then he met Darlene Lewis. Darlene runs an organization dedicated to helping former inmates find jobs, preparing them for interviews, placing them with local businesses and advocating for them in court. She's helped thousands of men and women.

"When you first met me, you was almost in tears," Darlene says.

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Arts + Life
12:44 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

The Madly Uneven 'Downton Abbey' Turns Its Eye From Money To Sex

Allen Leech as Tom Branson and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Masterpiece

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 2:12 pm

[This piece assumes you've seen the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. As to the fifth, it avoids specific spoilers, but does talk about themes and threads enough that you might be 20 percent less surprised by a couple of developments. It's the best balance I could strike.]

Let us get this out of the way right off: Particularly after its first two seasons, Downton Abbey has been enormously uneven. It's satisfying in some moments, dull in others, and always prone to falling so in love with a particular story beat that it cannot move past it.

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Arts + Life
11:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

From Patton Oswalt, A Movie Memoir That's Best Outside The Theater

Brad Barket Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 10:02 am

The best of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt lies in his ability to truthfully observe what is small but important. That's true in his comedy, but it's true in his writing, too. Here he is in his new memoir Silver Screen Fiend, talking about his desperation to make an impression in his first movie role, a tiny part in the Kelsey Grammer comedy Down Periscope:

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Arts + Life
3:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

The Theater Company Is 1927; The Technology Is Cutting Edge

The British theater company 1927 performs its latest play, Golem, based on the character from ancient Jewish folklore. The troupe's trademark is vintage style combined with distinctive animation.
Bernhard Mueller

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 7:40 pm

Lots of theater companies use animation and video projection. None uses it quite like the British troupe called 1927. The company has combined vintage style with sophisticated technology to carve out a unique niche in the theater.

1927's newest play, Golem, has just opened in London to rave reviews.

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Arts + Life
5:06 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

She Left The Nightlife Behind To Become A Life Coach

Mira Johnson took an unusual route on her journey to becoming a life coach.
Courtesy of Mira Johnson

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:45 pm

This is part of a series of stories about starting over, profiling people who, by choice or circumstance, reinvented or transformed themselves.

At just 32, Mira Johnson has made a lot of changes — some drastic. Her choices took her to low points, but also to where she is now: coaching others to make changes themselves.

Perhaps the best place to start her story is with a little-known saying about Portland, Ore.

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Arts + Life
5:06 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

In This New Year, Is It Time To Nix The Thank-You Letter?

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards — it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.
Diego Cervo iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 10:09 pm

Now that the holidays are over, another season has arrived. It's time for children to put pen to paper and scratch out thank you letters — all under the watchful eye of their parents.

In a recent piece for The Guardian, Peter Ormerod argues that it's time to do away with that ritual. He writes that thank you letters "represent arguably the first instance in our lives when insincerity is officially sanctioned, which is particularly sad given that the best thing about children is their honesty."

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