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Obie award winner, Robbie McCauley talks about her work.

“Theater for social change celebrates the world’s differences and the uniting of people for a shared goal.”

 

So says Robbie McCauley, my guest on today’s show. She’s an actor, writer, director and teacher. Her career spans over three decades. Growing up in the south, “before the revolution, as she calls it, segregation and marginalization was the norm. Moving to NY as a young woman, she found a voice for her rage in the newly developing Black Arts Movement, of the 60’s. One of the early cast members of, Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, McCauley went on to perform and write across the United states, facilitating dialogues on race between whites and blacks, and working throughout Europe.  Her play Sally’s Rape about her great, great grandmother, who had “two chilin by the master” as it was expressed in family oral history, is a courageous piece of experimental theater, where dialoging with the audience and encouraging them to express themselves, is as important as the actress’s lines in the play.

 

Robbie McCauley won an OBIE and an Audelco award, which recognizes excellence in black theatre and very recently she became a recipient of the United States Artists Fellowship. I talked to Professor McCauley in her office at Emerson where she is a performing arts professor.Image

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Books of Hope audio link

You can down load the audio file of the Books of Hope interview/poetry reading here  You can find a complete description of the Books of Hope interview/poetry reading here
Find more information on the Books of Hope writing program for Boston youth here

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in podcast

 

Independent Music Series, featuring – Gumbo Diablo

http://gumbodiablo.com/

 

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As part of our on going commitment to feature independent musicians and music, I interviewed Ken Hiatt who plays accordion and keyboards, and who along with Wendy Kinal, lead vocalist, composes and performs with Gumbo Diablo.

Gumbo Diablo is a Boston-based quartet specializing in a sound they call pan-Americana – roots rock that crosses borders and boundaries. Mixing traditions such as zydeco and r&b from Louisiana, cumbia from Colombia, forro from Brazil, and modern roots-influenced rock, they have been amazing audiences since 2009 with their unique live performances. With a sound driven by soulful vocals, accordions, keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion, Gumbo Diablo has the versatility to pack the dance floor, captivate a rock club, or hold court in a small restaurant.

The group has just released its debut album, The Gods We Were Before.  Featuring 10 original songs and a cover of Luiz Gonzaga’s “O Fole Roncou,” it is a showcase of the band’s pan-Americana sound.  If New Orleans is the northern port of the Caribbean, then Gumbo Diablo will take you on a musical journey from there to points south, creating music that is distinct, international, and joyful. The group is touring throughout the Northeast in support of this release.

Wendy’s earliest musical memories are of her Polish father playing accordion in the living room and the Latin and Caribbean beats surrounding her during her childhood in South Florida. Her first job (and gig!) was as a “Christmas” Karaoke Hostess on a Seminole Indian Reservation in snow-less Fort Lauderdale. Since then, she’s expanded her musical repertoire, and has been heavily influenced by Brazilian culture and music. As a practitioner of capoeira and a former member of the Northeastern Brazilian band, Batuque do Norte, she learned the power of percussion and of call-and-response music to connect people. She loves exploring the musical traditions of the US and other countries, bringing vocals, percussion, and accordion to the mix. She’s had a wild and educational ride with Gumbo Diablo, and looks forward to more sonic journeys.

Ken grew up playing Western classical music on the accordion. After many years of lessons, contests, and pieces that were far beyond his ability to understand them, he took a 10-year “break.” During this time he picked up the drums and played throughout the Boston area in several jazz and rock groups. Gradually his musical tastes turned toward “world” genres, and he kept hearing the accordion in new and unexpected contexts. In 2003 he took up the squeezebox again, inspired by a Klezmer band he heard at a friend’s wedding. He has played Klezmer and Greek folk music, but now he spends all his time trying to make Gumbo Diablo happen.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Be careful, you’ll end up in the Poor House!

I sat down with Architectural historian Heli Meltsner to discusses her recent book, The Poorhouses of Massachusetts: A Cultural and Architectural History. 
Many of us of a certain age remember our mother or grandmother warn us about the evils of overspending with the phrase, “If your not careful, you’ll end up in the poor house”. For generations in the not too distant past, that phrase was not just an old saying, but it was a very real threat. Remember all those Victorian novels with plots about women finding a good marriage? The Poor House was a very real possibility for anyone who was financially vulnerable in a time not that distant, before social security.

Massachusetts’s towns and cities used Poor Houses to shelter their destitute, elderly, medically indigent, orphans and mentally ill residents. In 1860, two thirds of our municipalities delivered needed support in a poorhouse or town farm. As late as 1945, one quarter retained one. The state only took over the job of delivering welfare in 1968.
 
Meltsner has identified 46 of these surviving buildings built by municipalities, two of them in Cambridge, and 52 old houses recycled for the purpose. Her book discusses the development of the institutions, the life within their walls and their architecture. Meltsner has also documented five still extant tramp houses erected to segregate the huge number of vagrants that flooded the roads in search of work or a meager meal and hard bed.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Upload Audio | Listen to Audio | two fierce & creative artists | YourListen

If you missed my interview with Valerie Stephens and Helen Elaine Lee, you can listen to it here:

Upload Audio | Listen to Audio | two fierce & creative artists | YourListen.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

September 28 (Friday) on the Bridge: Two Fierce & Courageous Artists

Guests today on The Bridge are Valerie Stephens and Helen Elaine Lee who travel into some of today’s most troubling issues and transform what they find into art.

First we’re going to hear from Valerie Stephens, who will talk with us about her one woman show, The Mammy Diaries, where she explores the reality, the myth, the caricature of the complex and multidimensional stereotype of Mammy, whose presence is still threaded through our society today.  Valerie will perform The Mammy Diaries on October 4 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Go to www.multiculturalartscenter.org and click on events for more information.  To learn more about Valerie and her work as a vocalist/bandleader, story teller, educator, and performance artist, visit her website at www.valeriestephens.com

Helen Elaine Lee is going to speak with us about her novel, Life Without, which tells the stories of ten people who are incarcerated in two neighboring prisons in the United States.

Through her early career as a lawyer and currently as a novelist and educator, social justice has been a central part of her life from her childhood on. “Justice” she says, “is a fiction for some of us.”

She has written two novels from the points of view of those inside. She will discuss and read from Life Without on our 9/28 show on The Bridge, and we will hear about the second of these novels, The Hard Loss, in a later show.  Check back on this blog for dates & details.

Helen says she had to “earn the stories” she tells, so she has spent many years as a volunteer in medium security prisons, teaching storytelling and creative writing. Listening to the voices and the stories of those inside, she was often struck by the “survival of dignity, generosity, and self interrogation” of her incarcerated students.

She is currently Associate Professor of Fiction Writing in MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of PEN New England and directs its Prison Creative Writing Program

You can read three of the stories from Life Without online at:

“Alphabet,” in Prairie Schoonerhttp://prairieschooner.unl.edu/?q=alphabet
“Pomegranate,” in Solstice Literary Magazine, http://solsticelitmag.org/pomegranate/
“Back in the Day,” in Callaloo: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/callaloo/summary/v031/31.2.lee.html

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Upload Audio | Listen to Audio | Interview: Mammy Diaries | YourListen

Upload Audio | Listen to Audio | Interview: Mammy Diaries | YourListen.
Dear Friends of The Bridge: Arts for the 99 % — I’m having technical difficulties uploading the 9/29 show featuring two fierce and courageous artists Valerie Stephens and Helen Elaine Lee. Because Valerie Stephens will perform her one woman show The Mammy Diaries on October 4 (Thursday) I want to make sure you have a chance to hear her discuss this compelling and challenging theater piece. So I’ve uploaded that section of the interview here.

In The Mammy Diaries, Valerie explores the reality, the myth, the caricature of the complex and multidimensional stereotype of Mammy, whose presence is still threaded through our society today.  Valerie will perform The Mammy Diaries on October 4 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Go to www.multiculturalartscenter.org and click on events for more information.  To learn more about Valerie and her work as a vocalist/bandleader, story teller, educator, and performance artist, visit her website at www.valeriestephens.com

And check back soon for the full program on THE BRIDGE as soon as I get the technical stuff figured out! AND I hope to see you at THE MAMMY DIARIES on October 4!

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized