WBEZ | wasteland http://www.wbez.org/tags/wasteland Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Murder most foul but fantastical in Middle America, grim reality for Vietnam POWs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows <p><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6628_Wasteland_087-scr%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Nate Burger in TimeLine Theatre's 'Wasteland' (Courtesy of the theater)" /></div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; ">&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Wasteland</em>,<a href="http://timelinetheatre.com">&nbsp;TimeLine Theatre Company</a>, 615 West Wellington (at Broadway), 773-281-TIME,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through December 30, $32-$42</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>William Brown&#39;s unsentimental direction makes the world premiere of Susan Felder&#39;s two-man play &mdash; one man onstage, one man a disembodied voice &mdash; a relentlessly intense experience, turning those black POW-MIA flag from an abstraction into flesh-and-blood reality. Two guys named Joe find themselves in neighboring cells (or, rather, underground tiger-cages) and come to rely on each other as the sole source of sanity in an apparently endless captivity. Nate Burger captures the visible Joe&#39;s desperation with every move, word and gesture, while Steve Haggard gives a fully realized performance with just his voice, making the invisible Joe his brother&#39;s keeper and tormentor in equal measure. Sartre&#39;s <em>No Exit</em> has nothing on this: you won&#39;t breathe for the entire show, or for several hours afterwards. A truly extraordinary experience.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play</em>, <a href="http://strangetree.org">The Strange Tree Group</a> at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 West Berenice in Lakeview,&nbsp;<a href="tel:773-598-8240" target="_blank" value="+17735988240">773-598-8240</a>,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through November 18, $25</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We don&#39;t need no stinkin&#39; . . .&quot; Halloween! That must surely be the cry of the Strange Tree Group, whose work is spooky at any time of year, as well as fanciful, allusive and designed to the nines. Here the Group revives Artistic Director Emily Schwartz&#39;s 2006 tale of a family wrenched apart by a remembered murder, because everyone remembers it differently. Imagine Rashomon in middle America &mdash; albeit a deeply skewed version of middle America. Scott Davis&#39;s scenic design conjures up the attic refuge of Alvin, the son who knows the truth but is determined to hide out from it. As absorbing to watch as it is impossible to describe, <em>Funeral Wedding</em> is equal parts creepy and spooky, mysterious and ooky, plus a heaping helping of charming. &nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>The Burnt Park Boys</em>, <a href="http://griffintheatre.com">Griffin Theatre Company</a> at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; $25 previews (through Nov. 10) then $36; runs through Dec. 22</u><br /><br />West Virginia has been in the news as a major snow dump, courtesy of Storm Sandy. It&#39;s also the setting for the Chicago premiere of <em>The Burnt Part Boys</em>, a 2006 musical about two young, rural WVA boys, circa 1962, who go on a quest. It&#39;s the sort-of thing Griffin Theatre does very well, frequently merging strong storylines and adolescent angst with sometimes-comic and sometimes-serious intent. This show&mdash;described as family-friendly&mdash;concerns the teenage sons of a coal miner killed in a mining accident, so I&#39;d guess the tone is serious but warm-hearted. Jonathan Berry, a Griffin veteran, is the director for The Burnt Part Boys, which features a blue grass-influenced musical score. FYI: Griffin is in the process of converting a former police station in Andersonville into a permanent company home. Until then, they remain an itinerant troupe. &ndash;JA<br /><br /><u><em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em>, <a href="http://eclipsetheatre.com">Eclipse Theatre Company</a> at The Athenaeum, 2934 N. Southport; 773-935-6875; $28; runs through Dec. 9</u><br /><br />Eugene O&#39;Neill would not allow this autobiographical play to be published or performed in his lifetime, having ripped it out of his heart and soul in 1941. Eye-witnesses remarked that O&#39;Neill would exit his little writing cottage with tears streaming from his eyes. <em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em> is from his mature years as a man and writer. As such, it stuns with deep compassion as much as it stings with the truth of O&#39;Neill&#39;s conflicted, guilt-ridden family circle. In New London, CT you can visit the small house facing the ocean where the play is set (now an O&#39;Neill museum) and understand the claustrophobia of its creaking floorboards and narrow corridors. Eclipse Theatre Company has devoted its 2012 season to O&#39;Neill and concludes with his greatest play, presented in a space as intimate as the O&#39;Neill house itself. Eclipse artistic director Nathaniel Swift puts it all together. The play is long&mdash;four acts&mdash;and every minute is essential if you are to understand the love and pain of the four haunted Tyrones (the O&#39;Neills). &ndash;JA</div></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows Fifty years after Newton Minow's famous address, is TV still a vast wasteland? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-09/fifty-years-after-newton-minows-famous-address-tv-still-vast-wasteland-8 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-09/TV_flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Monday marks the 50th anniversary of Newton Minow's historic address to the <a href="http://www.nab.org/" target="_blank">National Association of Broadcasters</a>. The Chicago attorney was serving as Chairman of the <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/" target="_blank">Federal Communications Commission</a>. It was Minow’s first foray in that position.<br> <br> Minow threw down a gauntlet, calling much of TV programming a vast wasteland. His speech changed the way Americans produce, consume and think about television. For WBEZ, Katie O’Brien surveyed the impact that sound bite had.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In the 50 years since Newton Minow called television a vast wasteland, the medium has morphed from an analog box with finicky bunny ears right into to the third dimension. When President John F. Kennedy chose the 34-year-old Newton Minow to chair the Federal Communications Commission, many thought that like the president, he was too young.</p><p>At a recent symposium observing the golden anniversary of the Vast Wasteland speech, Minow’s longtime mentee and writing partner Craig LaMay described a local lack of confidence in Minow’s credentials. Any ordinary underling might cut his losses. Let his charismatic, camera-friendly leader handle the big speeches. But Minow, a Chicago attorney, did not cower during his inaugural address.&nbsp;</p><p>Scandal peppered the early days of television. The 1950s saw the <em>Quiz Show</em> and payola scandals. Minow’s FCC predecessor had been forced to resign for accepting lavish hospitality from broadcast executives. Many of the men in the audience that day expected to be read a riot act of sorts, a lecture on manners and morals. They got much more than they bargained for.</p><p>LaMay described their reaction. One studio executive was so angered, he named the cursed vessel that stranded passengers on <em>Gilligan’s Island</em> after the chairman. The public felt differently. The speech was lauded overnight and the term “vast wasteland” assumed its place in the American vernacular. Minow was pleased to have their attention, but those weren’t the pair of words he was hoping would endure.</p><p>Just days before Minow gave his speech, America launched its first citizen into outer-space. America’s potential was again limitless.</p><p>Minow didn’t only address them as chairman of the FCC. He was also a television viewer; and a husband and father of other television viewers. During their work together on Adlai Stevenson’s second presidential campaign, Bobby Kennedy alerted Minow to TV’s growing influence over Americans.</p><p>Indeed its power had become a great responsibility. In 1961 there were more than 180 million pairs of eyes affixed to more than 56 million television sets. And the responsibility of broadcasters was to their interest—the public was their dictator. Not ratings and especially not advertisers.</p><p>In the United States, this is a matter of law. The license that allows a station to broadcast is not its own, nor is it the government’s; it is the American public’s. And with all great responsibility comes great privilege. The media has the power to influence the public, just as censorship has the power to silence it.</p><p>During the recent symposium, <em>PBS Newshour’s</em> Judy Woodruff said she strives to honor the privilege in the modern media landscape.</p><p>As a television critic and columnist for <em>The New York Times</em>, Virginia Heffernan watches more than the average 5 hours of television each day. Thanks in part to Mr. Minow, there has never been a time in her career when the medium was not considered a wasteful use of time.</p><p>She described it as a homegrown art form that we do better than anyone else in the world. And so, she challenged, when you think about television, think about what’s on TV. The impending doom that Newton Minow cast over broadcast television, Heffernan added, set up a productive tension in television, forcing artful competition.</p><p>In last month’s edition of <em>The Atlantic</em>, Minow mapped a plan for the next 50 years of television in this decidedly Vaster Wasteland. On Monday, Minow is meeting with the current chairman on the FCC; on top of his agenda, as always, is the public interest.</p><p>Special thanks to <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Northwestern University</a> for providing access to audio from the symposium</p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 13:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-09/fifty-years-after-newton-minows-famous-address-tv-still-vast-wasteland-8