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A new play on stage at the JCC CenterStage is generating conversations about race in America. “Division Street” is the latest project by playwright Jason Odell Williams. It tells the story of an interracial couple in Hollywood after the white husband is nominated for a Golden Globe for playing a racist police officer.

The play explores a range of issues, including race relations, cultural appropriation, and which voices are elevated in Hollywood and how. We discuss those issues with our guests:

How have intimate scenes on stage, on television, and in film changed in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp? "Intimacy choreography" is on the rise. The goal is to help actors feel safe and secure during scenes in which their characters are vulnerable.

Those principles are being applied in productions in Rochester. We talk members of a local performance who have gone through the training. In studio:

  • Ralph Meranto, artistic director of the JCC, and director of the JCC’s production of “Oklahoma!”
  • Jace Meyer-Crosby, intimacy director for the JCC’s production of “Oklahoma!”
  • Drew Jensen, actor in the JCC’s production of “Oklahoma!”
  • Jennie Gilardoni, actor in the JCC’s production of “Oklahoma!”

We preview a historic production of the August Wilson play, “Fences,” in Rochester. Members of the cast and crew of NTID’s production join us to discuss the first ever Deaf, black performance of “Fences,” which will be accessible to both Deaf and hearing audiences.

WXXI News streamed this conversation on Facebook Live with captions. To view the video, click here. In studio:

  • Aceyon Owens, speaker for the role of Troy
  • Marqwan Holmes, signer for the role of Troy
  • Malik Paris, signer for the role of Lyons
  • Giigii Gano, speaker for the role of Rose
  • Luane Haggerty, director of “Fences” and interpreter
  • Danica Zielinski, interpreter

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

A new play at the JCC CenterStage Theatre explores the life and work of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The radio and television sex therapist has helped change the way America talks about sexual health.

We’re joined by members of the production and local sex therapists who discuss sex education, sexual medicine, and more. In studio:

11th annual Sankofa Theatre Festival celebrates the bicentennial observance of Frederick Douglass’ birthday. We discuss an upcoming play based on his ideals, and get a preview of other works that highlight African American voices.

In studio:

  • Richard Kendrick, actor in "The Green Book Chronicles" at the Sankofa Theatre Festival
  • Reuben J. Tapp, director of "The Green Book Chronicles" at the Sankofa Theatre Festival
  • Kevin Hicks, public relations manager for the annual Sankofa Theatre Festival

When's the last time you gave someone a standing ovation? We have a little debate over when to stand, and when to stay seated. The critics say that we stand too often, and that has removed the meaning of standing ovations. It's the adult version of "everyone gets a trophy." Or is it?

Our guests:

Throughout its history, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew has been analyzed in different ways. Is the play misogynistic? Satirical? Empowering toward women?

This hour, we reexamine the play in the context of the #MeToo movement. It’s a move that many theater companies have made in recent months, and many have readapted the play to make a statement. We talk about a local production, and about how we view works of theater in different cultural moments. In studio:  

  • Virginia Monte, creator of WallByrd Theatre Company
  • Scott O'Neil, dramaturg for WallByrd’s production of The Taming of the Shrew
  • Jamie Tyrrell, local actor, director, and researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center

A new play at Geva Theatre tackles war, immigration, the refugee experience, and the gray area between right and wrong. “Heartland” is the story of an Afghan refugee and an American professor who form an unexpected friendship. It’s a production that speaks to the value theater can have in helping audiences understand the human stories behind political issues.

Our guests discuss the play, and how the arts can help us understand our world. We also preview Geva’s 46th season. In studio:

Why are women occasionally abused on movie sets, ostensibly for the sake of genuine art? The question was raised this past weekend, when Uma Thurman told the New York Times about abuses she has suffered. She says director Quentin Tarantino spit in her face and choked her with a chain on the set of Kill Bill.

Maria Schneider famously felt "a little raped" during filming for Last Tango in Paris when she was not warned about a scene in which her character was assaulted. Director Bernardo Bertolucci later said he "wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress."

But men rarely suffer such abuses. We discuss the double standard, and we discuss what lines should never be crossed for the sake of art. Our guests:

The Agitators tells the story of sometimes-difficult friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Both wanted equality; on occasion their work pitted themselves against each other.

The production at Geva involves only two cast members, and tracks their remarkable 45-year relationship. It's a history lesson that feels more important than ever today. Our guests:

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