10 March 2008

You'll Be Glad You Listened to This,

I guarantee it.

I was whining to Rachel this weekend about how I never listen to "This American Life" because it has a crappy time-slot. Sunday at 4pm is just not a good time for me. Listening to Ira Glass talk makes me twitch but the content of the show is undeniably amazing.

A quick stop at their website revealed that many of the shows are available to stream for free. (You can also buy downloads and cd's.) Unsure of where to begin, I went to their favorites page and listened to the first two. The "Camp" show is highly entertaining. The kids are so refreshing and full of enthusiasm, if at times way over the top. Well, maybe that's what makes them so great.

Tonight I listened to "Act V" and I was completely blown away. The show is about a group of convicted felons rehearsing and performing Shakespeare, specifically Act V of Hamlet. A group called Prison Performing Arts goes into a high-security prison in St. Louis to direct the troupe of convicts and I'm not sure what adjectives to use to describe how incredible the result is. Well, perhaps not the result (ie the performance) in and of itself but listening to these men talk about their lives and how they draw upon experience to use for their characters is unbelievably unique and powerful. When the convict who plays Laertes in an interview said "I am Laertes" I got the chills. And of course the show goes beyond the play to address the complex issues involved with the whole notion of prison. I suppose there are more productive ways you could spend an hour of your life, but I highly recommend you find the time for this show.

As a side note, the music selection is also quite good (outside of the cover of "Desparado" at the end). I was happy to hear an Ui track I hadn't heard in ages.

1 comment:

dan said...

Prison Performing Arts is bringing Ira Glass, host of This American Life to St. Louis in September! Check out www.irascoming.com for more info. Also, let me know if you would like to get involved with Prison Performing Arts.
Dan Martin,
General Manager,
Prison Performing Arts