WXXI AM News

theatre

This Veterans Day, we're discussing a new drama written by a man who has spent years helping veterans readjust to post-war life in America.

Tom Bird is the playwright of Bearing Witness, which opened Thursday at the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre. The show includes reference to Tom's father, a doctor who helped liberate the Mauthausen Concentration Camp near the end of WWII.

Bird is a Vietnam veteran who recalls his own wartime experience. We sit down with him for this timely discussion.

A new play looks at what might happen if a conservative Republican leader changed his mind about God and guns.

"Church and State" imagines a Newtown-like mass shooting, in which a Senator's children survived. His views on God, and on gun rights, immediately shift. This comes as a problem for his wife, a devoutly religious woman who favors no restrictions on guns, despite the massacre at her children's school. And what would voters say? Our guests:

  • Jason Odell Williams, playwright, Church and State
  • Ralph Meranto, artistic director, JCC CenterStage

The City of Rochester is considering four proposals for the prime "Parcel 5" lot downtown. We've heard about two of the four: a performing arts center, and a mostly-green space.

The third is a proposal from Glenn Kellogg, owner of Harts Local Grocers in Rochester. Per the Democrat & Chronicle, "Kellogg's plan would divide the center Midtown lot into 15 'bite-sized' parcels for smaller developers to build a more traditional downtown retail center."

We sit down with Glenn Kellogg to discuss his vision for Parcel 5.

We discuss the realities of friendship, especially when one friend becomes more successful than the rest of the group. It's the focus of the new film, Don't Think Twice, by comedian Mike Birbiglia. The film follows an improv team in New York City called The Commune, and chronicles how the group dynamic changes after one member leaves to be featured in a late night television show.

We talk about what success and failure mean to different people, what it's like to dream...and the realization that sometimes you must give up, and we have a little fun discussing improv comedy. Our guests:

We preview the ninth annual Sankofa Evening of Theatre and Jazz Fest, which kicks off this weekend at the Multi-use Community Cultural Center. The event celebrates the work of emerging and established African American playwrights.

We discuss the themes of some of the plays and the impact of the festival on art and the community. Our guests:

  • Kevin Hicks, communications director for the Sankofa Festival 
  • Anne Thompson-Scretching, featured artist and playwright of Four Men On A Couch
  • Gary DeWitt Marshall, director of Four Men On A Couch
  • Grace Flores, playwright of Now & Then
  • Jahaka Mindstorm, playwright of My People Perish

The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival is coming. We hear from a whirlwind of performers, who will preview the wide range of shows. Get ready. The guest list:

Does Rochester need a new downtown performing arts center? It's a question that has been explored by local arts organizations and city government for 22 years.

On Monday, the City of Rochester released the results of a feasibility study that recommends building a 2,850-seat performing arts center at Midtown. The study says the project would cost more than $75 million and would not require public subsidy.

Is it time to pursue the project? The Rochester Broadway Theatre League is in favor of a new center, saying a larger theater is necessary for Rochester to remain competitive in attracting hit Broadway shows like Hamilton. But representatives of local theaters say a large downtown center would not help existing arts groups and venues.

Mayor Lovely Warren has been pushing for a performing arts center and has extended the deadline for proposals.

We discuss a number of questions surrounding the project, including who would pay for a new center, who would own it, and what type of facility the city needs...if it needs one at all. Our guests:

How can local arts and theatre companies ensure all voices in our community are represented? And how can theatre companies ensure non-white actors have an opportunity to play any role? We talk about efforts to promote diversity in Rochester's theatre scene with our guests:

While RBTL continues to lobby for a new, 3,000-seat downtown performing arts center, other theater companies are trying to reinvigorate the local theater scene. From established companies to new groups, we explore the scene. Our guests:

A new theater program is helping local at-risk teenagers get back on a path to success. Shakespeare on the Streets matches students enrolled in Hillside's Reinvesting in Youth program with members of the Rochester Police Department, the Rochester Latino Theatre Company, and local Shakespeare artists.  

The student actors -- who have all had encounters with law enforcement -- will perform selections of Henry V on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. and March 12 at 3 p.m. at Wilson Foundation Academy. We talk to program organizers and to student participants, who explain how the play's themes have inspired them to work toward new beginnings. Our guests: 

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