Current Event February 21, 2020
Filmmakers often make movies based on popular and beloved books, prompting audiences to wonder whether to read the book or watch the movie first. The argument has been made that movie adaptations can broaden the audience for books, especially older classics. Another view is that people who see the movie version of a book first will miss out on the benefit of fully engaging their imaginations while reading. Listen to hear a discussion about popular books and movies that raises points on both sides and then debate: Should you read the book before you watch the movie?
Current Event December 10, 2019
In 1811, hundreds of slaves in Louisiana took up arms and marched to New Orleans in the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. The event inspired current day artist Dread Scott (named after the famous slave who petitioned the court for his freedom in 1857) to organize a reenactment of the march with a new ending. Scott’s rebels end up victorious, unlike the originals, and his event celebrates the slaves’ heroism as well as the culture of New Orleans. Listen to hear an artist describe the inspiration for his reenactment and why he chose a positive focus for the event.
Current Event December 3, 2019
A filmmaker has brought an American heroine to life. The movie Harriet tells the story of Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who risked her life many times to lead hundreds of her fellow slaves to freedom. The filmmaker wanted to show Tubman’s superhero qualities, along with her humanity, to make a legendary historical figure seem more real. Listen to hear the filmmaker explain why she was drawn to Harriet Tubman and how a hero from the 1800s can still inspire us today.
Current Event October 24, 2019
Landscape architect Walter Hood is famous for transforming worn out urban spaces into beautiful and useful places. The winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” Hood researches the history of a neighborhood, talks to residents, and then incorporates their ideas into his designs. Listen to learn how Hood’s childhood memories influence his work and how he integrated a slave ship drawing into a museum design project.
Current Event September 11, 2019
When a vacant lot in Sacramento was up for sale, one neighbor had an idea for what it could become. She envisioned an urban farm, so she bought the lot and invited a local nonprofit group to help turn it into an “edible art garden” after gathering input from other community members. Listen to learn what this once bare lot looks like today and how it benefits the neighborhood surrounding it.
Current Event August 22, 2019
Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. These short poems traditionally describe impressions of nature. Haiku are quite popular among poets with a wide range of experience. Listen to hear some examples of modern haiku-inspired poetry and find out why one author says, “if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku.”
In this interview, actor Henry Winkler discusses his own learning difference and that of Hank Zipzer, the main character in Winkler’s children’s book series. Hank, who is based on Winkler’s own experience as a child, struggles with learning to read, but works hard to succeed despite his challenges. Listen to learn more about Winkler’s story, how he persevered through his dyslexia and achieved success, and what he considers his greatest accomplishment.
Current Event March 7, 2019
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting off big in 2019 with Captain Marvel. The film, which features a superheroine battling evil, is the first ever movie in the Marvel Universe with a female lead. In order to do the character and story justice, Marvel hired not only a female director, but also female producers and writers. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of those writers, and her experience has shown her that opportunities are limited for female screenwriters. The film industry has been historically dominated by men, which has had an impact on how female characters have been portrayed. Listen to a Captain Marvel screenwriter describe her experience as a woman in the film industry.
Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, is required reading in many high schools and colleges around the country. But in a new take on how to view the poem, an author, translator and Homer scholar took his father on a cruise that retraced the route of the Greek hero Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca as laid out in Homer’s epic. Prior to this adventure, the son had taught The Odyssey in a course at Bard College, which his father had attended. In this audio story, and author and translator discusses a trip he made with his father, not long before the older man’s death.
Consumer culture in the United States has been a fixture of the holiday season for years, particularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving–also known as “Black Friday.” That’s the inspiration for the title story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s latest book of speculative fiction, Friday Black. In it, he addresses the topics of race and class as they relate to American consumer culture. Listen to hear an interview with the author as he discusses how his experience of these factors influences his work.
John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 novella Of Mice and Men tells the story of two migrant workers during the Great Depression. George is committed to protecting Lenny, who is well-meaning but limited in his cognitive and social skills. George does all he can to keep Lenny out of trouble, and so the two are often on the move. Of Mice and Men has been adapted for film and stage. Listen to this story to hear how an actor who played Lenny on Broadway reflects on how his own background informed his portrayal of this iconic character.
This story features an interview with author Jay Cantor about his 2014 story collection, "Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka." In this work, Cantor fictionalizes the lives of several friends of renowned Czech writer Franz Kafka’s in order to examine the influence Kafka had on them. In the interview, Cantor explains what drew him to Kafka, the dilemma Kafka created for his close friend Max Brod, and the meaning of the term Kafkaesque. Listen to the story to learn about one writer’s inspiration and his thoughts on a literary giant.
Current Event October 2, 2018
A teen theater company has developed a play about gun violence, and they have designed a set that also functions as a public art installation. The room-sized exhibit includes thousands of shoes representing people affected by gun violence this year, with a shoe added for each new victim through the run of the show. Listen to learn about what inspired the design of this play and art exhibit.
Current Event September 12, 2018
Shooting the cover of the September issue of Vogue magazine is often considered the grand prize of fashion photography. Twenty-three-year-old Tyler Mitchell is the first African American photographer, and one of the youngest ever, to win that prize. Listen to this interview with Mitchell, who discusses what led to this important moment in his career, how he feels about it, and his thoughts about being the first black photographer to receive this honor.
In response to the popular, yet controversial Netflix show "13 Reasons Why," one school began sharing some personal stories from students struggling with suicidal thoughts. Instead of sharing the reasons why someone might make the choice to end their life, however, they shared messages of hope and positive influences on the lives of its students. Listen to hear those stories and how they impacted the students at the school.
Current Event May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.
Current Event January 31, 2018
Online courses provide access to a variety of topics and can be accessed at any time by learners. One professor believes that by taking courses online people are missing out on visual art education. To combat this, she started a website with courses that delve deep into how art is made, in addition to offering online critiques that help people improve their craft. By becoming involved in her work, this professor has developed her mental flow and wants to show others how to get to this point by connecting with materials. Listen to learn why mental flow is essential for understanding another side to art.