(Photo from http://www.npr.org/Millennium Entertainment)
Once again, NPR delivers a couple of gems; tonight’s was from the theater world, and it reminded me of another informative and descriptive one I’d heard on a different edition of the podcast All Things Considered a few weeks ago.
Tonight’s feature was called, “Encore! Encore! Applauding the Literal Showstopper.” Bob Mondello describes his experience of watching audiences demand encores in performances of Hello, Dolly! and Annie Get Your Gun. His descriptions are so vivid, I could picture the performances and actors without hindrance; listening to it on the radio with clips of the performances and sounds of the audience reactions livened up the experience. The piece, both in written and audio format, can be found here:
A while back, I heard Mondello do another piece entitled, “The Theatrical Curtain Call: More Than Just Bows.” In this story, he describes his near-magical experience of seeing a beautiful curtain call while watching a production of Oliver! as a child. He describes other curtain calls he’s seen, as well as the history of applause and how curtain calls factor into theater today. The piece, in both written and audio format, can be found here:
Mondello’s storytelling is informative and descriptive, full of nostalgic and reminiscent delight paired with current connections. In his “Encore” piece, Mondello references both the world of the opera (with a recent incident at the Met) and the world of rap (with an example of a performance by Kanye West and Jay-Z). Of course, I’m a huge fan of musical theater, so Mondello’s references hold a special place in my heart, but his writing and mini history lessons are endearing and interesting, even if the theater element weren’t there.
I’ve recently discovered NPR. Honestly, I can’t believe it took me this long. I guess it’s because I’ve always been someone who takes any time in the car as the chance to listen to the radio, but that usually involves me singing my stress away to Top 40 club songs. While scanning through the stations one day I stumbled upon the local FM stream of NPR. After pausing instead of skipping to the latest dance mix, I let the station linger for a few minutes and was instantly hooked. I don’t have to commute much, but lately I’ve loved even the short five to ten minute drives I have just because I get to listen to the interesting news clips they broadcast.
I do like listening to and watching the news, especially since it’s an election year. I like knowing what is going on in the United States and the world, and I tend to read news stories and watch broadcasts and commentaries on the big networks. What I enjoy about NPR is that they report stories that might not get air time on those bigger networks. These stories don’t make national news, but they are still profound and reflect what is going on in the world at large. Plus, all the reporters seem to have such nice, civilized conversations. Even when they’re talking about politics. None of the interviewers verbally attack or accuse the interviewees as is so common on other news shows; it’s all very polite and well-behaved, as if tea and scones are involved somehow. Watching network news on the current state of the nation and the world tends to leave me with higher blood pressure and anxiety. There’s just so much yelling. Perhaps that’s why I often find myself watching them at the gym–at least it ensures a more active workout. Listening to stories on NPR leaves me much calmer and more at ease. Even when they’re talking about the upcoming election.
I’d heard about the podcast “This American Life” in the past, but I finally listened to it tonight–on NPR, of course. I’m not much of a romantic, but this story about a man who fell in love with a woman when he was stationed in Korea, lost touch with her, then reconnected with her ten years later reached deep down into the small, fuzzy, gushy part of my heart and made it say “awww.” The man’s nephew relates his uncle’s story through an engaging narrative that includes interviews with his uncle, the woman he met in Korea (who is now his wife), and the rest of the narrator’s relatives, making the story very much a family affair.
Give it a listen here:
The story is in Act 2 of the podcast. It is entitled, “Isn’t it Slow-Mantic” and it starts at the 32:30 mark. See also http://www.thisamericanlife.org/ for other stories from their podcasts.