Jackie & Me

Louis Bayard’s new novel Jackie & Me tells the story of the courtship of Congressman John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier from the point of view of Kennedy’s oldest friend, a closeted gay man named Lem Billings. It’s a charming and moving imagining of how these events played out that takes us inside the heads and hearts of these real people, and Lou discusses how writing about recent Presidential romance is different from writing about 19th-century Presidential romances; how he embraces the multiverse (and who actually invented it); the fun of Googling while reading; a fascination with closeted love; some great jacket copy; how the types of mysteries he writes about has changed; and an irreverent yet perfect celebration of Pride Month. (Length 25:19)

Man About Town

Kevin Pollack is a Chicago singer-songwriter (and actor) who’s just released the first video from his new collection of songs, called “Man About Town”. Kevin discusses his musical influences and his many side-gigs (including playing “Joliet Jake” in the tribute band The Blooze Brothers), and shares the ups and downs of the music biz, including inspiration from The Temptations and The Four Tops, songwriting as therapy, and such career highlights as performing in Las Vegas and playing rock icons like Joe Cocker, Billy Joel, and…Roger Ebert?! (Length 20:34)

The Impostors Theatre

Rachel Borgo is the Executive Director of Chicago newest young theatre ensemble, The Impostors Theatre Company, a group of like-minded Valparaiso theatre department alums who believe in the value of playing pretend. Featuring the paradox of being both boastful and self-deprecating; the importance of identity (with reference to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “Shakespeare & Beyond” Blog); the power of transformation and change; the glory of being childlike without being childish; the wonder of finding a home at Collaboraction Studios; Rachel’s screenwriting debut with When Jeff Tried to Save the World; the enormously supportive theatre community (sometimes including dogs); the need to get your clicks up; and finally, the career advantages of always carrying Pepto-Bismol in your purse. (Length 17:56)

Glory Of ‘Ensemble’

Mark Larson discusses his wonderful new book Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater, a magnificent (and massive!) collection of first-person narratives from such theatre legends as Alan Arkin, Brian Dennehy, Andre DeShields, Laurie Metcalf, Mary Zimmerman, Michael Shannon, Regina Taylor, RSC alum David Razowsky, David Schwimmer, and literally hundreds more, all explaining both the history and the unique nature of Chicago theatre as they lived and created it. Featuring gratitude to those who came before us; the concept of the Chicago theatre community itself as a massive ensemble; theatre as a civic point of pride; eliminating unnecessary characters (like the author); answering the question of why the concept of ensemble developed such strong roots in this particular city; the biggest surprises from this four-and-a-half year process (and how it relates to podcasting); similarities to Studs Terkel and Tom Wolfe; tales of enormous will and enormous generosity; great white whales who got away; the benefits of being an outsider at the edge of the story; making the reader feel part of the Chicago theatre community; how individuals and institutions assist and mentor others; and ultimately the freedom — the ability, the need — to take risks. (Length 21:45)

Fighting Writers Block

Mya Gosling is the creator and artist behind GoodTickleBrain, the world’s greatest (and possibly only) three-panel stick-figure Shakespeare web comic. The issue of writers block is something we all deal with, and Mya shares with us how she wrestles with it, and frequently utilizes it as a theme in her comics. Featuring getting over speed bumps, the futility of changing one’s digital nibs, determining the distinctions between so-called “classic” writers block (and its related forms: “new” writers block and “cherry vanilla” writers block), the struggle of getting the marble elephant out of the marble block, making use of and exorcising your own struggle, the dilemma of having to create the thing itself before you can see what the problem is, and finally realizing the necessity of letting go of perfect. (Length 19:59)

Episode 558. Theatre In Chicago

On the occasion of its world premiere (and Broadway-bound) production of Trevor: The Musical, Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam talks about the Chicago theatre community, its evolving so-called “style”, and the state of musical theatre (and theatre generally) in America. Featuring comparisons to London, cynical imperatives, lifeguard metaphors, and Read more…