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Flynn Blog

The Inherent Intimacy of Radio

by Cynthia Close, Burlington Writers Workshop Review of Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, and Anna Bass at the Flynn on April 25, 2015.  [caption id="attachment_4227" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo by David Bazemore[/caption] The darkened theater, a hushed audience, and the familiar voice of Ira Glass sets the tone as he engages us as co-conspirators, just as he does on his syndicated public radio show This American Life. Here on the stage, Ira Glass is the heart and soul of this performance, just as he embodies the stories that have made This American Life the unique phenomena that built a cult-like following over the past twenty years. There was a vaudeville feeling; a loose, improvised quality reinforced by the minimal stage set and the opening scene as Ira steps through the small, glittery archway that mimicked an entry onto the actual theater stage. He’s carrying what appears to be an old leather suitcase that he sets down as he addresses the audience. He unpacks and screws together a lectern, standing behind it and relating the stories that make up the three acts of this 90-minute production with no intermission. While the three acts were thematically divided, different stages and types of love was a consistent thread. Act one covered love of performing. In Act two, burgeoning love for another individual was enacted by audience members who were selected to come up on stage to play awkward preteenagers at a middle-school dance. Love at the end of life flowed through the end of Act three, each of these stories told in Ira’s distinct style. There is an inherent intimacy in radio that I have always loved, much more so than television or even the movies. Radio is a way to share secrets between you the individual listener and the disembodied voice somewhere “out there” that seems to be talking only to you, engaging you in a private conversation with your own thoughts. The illusion of being alone had to be sacrificed in this case, as every seat in the Flynn Theater appeared to be occupied, but in return we were treated to an insider look at the creative process. For me this was the most important take-away from the performance. Ira shares with us how the idea for Three Acts, Two Dancers and One Radio Host was born, how he met the two dancers, Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes, and how the differing personalities of these two dancers were incorporated in the show. A most pleasant surprise was how delightful the tall, gangly, Ichabod Crane-like body of Ira Glass became as he flung himself enthusiastically into the rhythmic dances choreographed by Monica Bill Barnes. The show ended with an explosion of confetti and then a slow, methodic packing up the suitcase as Ira Glass prepared to leave his Burlington co-conspirators to engage a new audience on the next stop of this creative tour.

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Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
153 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Tickets: 802-863-5966, voice/relay calls welcome
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