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Why We Theater

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Social justice meets theatre in this podcast from Playbill’s former Executive Editor Ruthie Fierberg. Artists and experts unite for curated panels, using plays and musicals (Broadway, Off-Broadway, and works in development) as a jumping-off point to confront societal issues such as racism, colorism, voting rights, fake news, digital technology addiction, the school-to-prison pipeline, anti-Semitism, raising LGBTQIA+ kids, and more. We help listeners grapple with hard questions inside a play or musical in order to create change in our offstage lives. And don’t worry if you haven’t seen an individual episode’s show or if you’re not a theatre buff. Award-winning writers and directors of pieces like SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY and THE PROM break down the message inside their stories and how they created that story. Then, real-world experts in the corresponding field (like NSA Jake Sullivan or THIS AMERICAN LIFE’s Ira Glass) offer advice and action steps (thought patterns to monitor, petitions to sign, organizations to support, etc.) so we can manifest progress. “Theater” is not only a place or a presentation, it is an action. “To theater” is to engage with art presented onstage. Why we theater? We’re about to find out.

Social justice meets theatre in this podcast from Playbill’s former Executive Editor Ruthie Fierberg. Artists and experts unite for curated panels, using plays and musicals (Broadway, Off-Broadway, and works in development) as a jumping-off point to confront societal issues such as racism, colorism, voting rights, fake news, digital technology addiction, the school-to-prison pipeline, anti-Semitism, raising LGBTQIA+ kids, and more. We help listeners grapple with hard questions inside a play or musical in order to create change in our offstage lives. And don’t worry if you haven’t seen an individual episode’s show or if you’re not a theatre buff. Award-winning writers and directors of pieces like SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY and THE PROM break down the message inside their stories and how they created that story. Then, real-world experts in the corresponding field (like NSA Jake Sullivan or THIS AMERICAN LIFE’s Ira Glass) offer advice and action steps (thought patterns to monitor, petitions to sign, organizations to support, etc.) so we can manifest progress. “Theater” is not only a place or a presentation, it is an action. “To theater” is to engage with art presented onstage. Why we theater? We’re about to find out.

Location:

United States

Description:

Social justice meets theatre in this podcast from Playbill’s former Executive Editor Ruthie Fierberg. Artists and experts unite for curated panels, using plays and musicals (Broadway, Off-Broadway, and works in development) as a jumping-off point to confront societal issues such as racism, colorism, voting rights, fake news, digital technology addiction, the school-to-prison pipeline, anti-Semitism, raising LGBTQIA+ kids, and more. We help listeners grapple with hard questions inside a play or musical in order to create change in our offstage lives. And don’t worry if you haven’t seen an individual episode’s show or if you’re not a theatre buff. Award-winning writers and directors of pieces like SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY and THE PROM break down the message inside their stories and how they created that story. Then, real-world experts in the corresponding field (like NSA Jake Sullivan or THIS AMERICAN LIFE’s Ira Glass) offer advice and action steps (thought patterns to monitor, petitions to sign, organizations to support, etc.) so we can manifest progress. “Theater” is not only a place or a presentation, it is an action. “To theater” is to engage with art presented onstage. Why we theater? We’re about to find out.

Language:

English

Contact:

9192648493


Episodes

Why We Theater Now: April 2022

4/8/2022
In this Season 2 finale, Ruthie recommends currently running Broadway and Off-Broadway shows that speak to Why We Theater. Paradise Square, now on Broadway Alex Edelman's Just For Us Ruthie Fierberg, Host Ruthiefierberg.com IG: @whywetheater / T: @whywetheater IG: @ruthiefierceberg / T: @RuthiesATrain Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:10:36

ADDRESSLESS meets Choose-Your-Own Activity

3/31/2022
In this week’s mini-episode, Ruthie recommends books—some novels, some memoirs—and television episodes that tell stories about homelessness. Then, taking a page out of Addressless’ book, Ruthie offers guides listeners through three at-home activities to better emotionally comprehend what it means to be at risk for homelessness and to experience it. Organize a Sleep Out of your own. Try Covenant House's "What Would You Do?" Activity. Instructions for Losing Your Identity courtesy of Covenant...

Duration:00:21:01

ADDRESSLESS and Homelessness

3/29/2022
ADDRESSLESS: A Walk in Our Shoes played Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in February 2022 as a virtual, interactive production. The play intimately and personally illustrated what it means to live homeless in New York City. Hungarian director Martin Boross and playwright Jonathan Payne explored this plight through three individuals living unhoused, each on a mission to acquire $1,500 while staying as healthy as they could. Experts Shams Da Baron (aka Da Homeless Hero),...

Duration:01:14:29

DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA meets The Prophet

3/17/2022
Last week, American Utopia performer Tendayi Kuumba and experts Drs. Vinoo Alluri and Alejandro Lleras helped host Ruthie Fierberg take step back and welcome a broader perspective to problem-solving, beyond “What are the next steps to create change?” to “How do we find the next steps to create change?” The human brain is not a muscle, but it does need exercise—so to speak. To change the way we solve problems, we must change the way we approach problems. Change the very way we think. Actor...

Duration:00:10:16

DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA and Expanding Our Thinking to Solve Problems

3/10/2022
You might think David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway is a concert. It’s not. Yet, it’s not exactly a play or a musical. It’s something else outside the box. The Talking Heads frontman— along with choreographer Annie-B Parsons’ and a band of international musicians, vocalists, and dancers—creates a show about exploring the unconventional, especially when it comes to unconventional thought and thought processes. American Utopia made host Ruthie Fierberg wonder: How many solutions to...

Duration:01:18:35

Re-Release: IF I FORGET and American Jews, Anti-Semitism, and Tribalism

2/17/2022
With the recent controversy surrounding Whoopi Goldberg and her remarks about the Holocaust, with the recent hostage situation at a Texas synagogue, with generational trauma and anti-Semitism on the brain, Why We Theater re-releases this episode from Season 1 with a new intro and new context. Dig into Tony Award winner Steven Levenson's play IF I FORGET with Steven himself and experts Rabbi Shuli Passow (B'nai Jeshurun in New York City) and scholar Judah Isseroff. Watch IF I FORGET on...

Duration:01:33:24

THE COLOR PURPLE meets Prayer for the French Republic

2/10/2022
Continuing our discussion about the musical The Color Purple (which is also about to become a movie musical starring Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, and Corey Hakwins), this week Ruthie recommends Joshua Harmon’s new Off-Broadway play Prayer for the French Republic. The Color Purple—originally a novel by Alice Walker—was adapted into a musical and first opened on Broadway in 2005 and revived in 2015 and depicts the abusive relationship between Celie and Mister (among many...

Duration:00:15:10

THE COLOR PURPLE and Generational Trauma

2/3/2022
In all its forms, The Color Purple is a powerful account of generational trauma in the Black community. The novel by Alice Walker was published in 1982 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 before being adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. In 2005, the musical version opened on Broadway starring LaChanze with a book by Marsha Norman and a score by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. Ten years later, the musical came back to...

Duration:01:28:49

SANCTUARY CITY Meets The Sun Is Also A Star

1/27/2022
Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok writes the story of high-schoolers B & G in Sanctuary City. As undocumented teens, the two lean on each other. When G gets citizenship and B has to choose to stay in New Jersey or return with his mom to their country of origin, questions of identity, friendship, sacrifice, and love emerge. In Nicola Yoon’s New York Times bestseller The Sun is Also a Star, Natasha and Daniel are also from immigrant families—Daniel a first-generation Korean-American and...

Duration:00:11:30

SANCTUARY CITY and U.S. Immigration Reform

1/20/2022
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok debuted her new play, Sanctuary City, Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in the fall of 2021. The drama follows B and G, two best friends, both undocumented immigrants. After 9/11, B’s mom decides to return to her country of origin, but the U.S. is the only home B has ever known. As he decides whether to stay or leave, G might be able to offer him a solution. How much are they each willing to sacrifice? Sanctuary City puts U.S....

Duration:01:28:36

Why We Theater NOW: January 2022

1/13/2022
It can be a challenge to make an episode of Why We Theater in time for you to see every show while it’s running. So here are some recommendations for currently running Broadway and Off-Broadway shows that speak to Why We Theater and some incoming productions to keep an eye on. From Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong at The Shed to The Tonight Show’s Tariq Trotter and his new Off-Broadway musical, these are recommendations you’ll want to hear and tickets you’ll want to book. Nervous about...

Duration:00:20:44

THE KILLING OF KINGS meets The Prison Within

1/6/2022
Building on our episodes about Nadira Simone’s The Killing of Kings, in this mini-episode, Ruthie recommends the documentary The Prison Within. The film reveals the stories of six incarcerated men—their upbringings, their crimes, their humanity—as we watch them go through a restorative justice process. It’s remarkable. A must-see. In the U.S., 2.2 million people are incarcerated, which costs taxpayers $260 Billion per year. The Killing of Kings put these statistics in a human context for me....

Duration:00:13:42

BONUS: THE KILLING OF KINGS continued with Esther Matthews

12/30/2021
Building upon last week’s episode “THE KILLING OF KINGS and the Transition of Incarcerated Persons From Prison,” host Ruthie Fierberg speaks one-on-one with expert Esther Matthews, PhD, about the practical steps to take to achieve the prison and transition reforms we spoke about in our main episode. As a professor of sociology and criminology with research expertise in re-entry solutions for formerly incarcerated people, Esther answers questions in four key areas: 1. Physical safety inside...

Duration:00:20:22

THE KILLING OF KINGS and the Transition of Incarcerated Persons From Prison

12/23/2021
Today we welcome artist Nadira Simone, who wrote the breath-stealing new play The Killing of Kings. The drama weaves a tapestry of Black families in America dealing with mass incarceration and police brutality, grappling with Black Lives Matter, and surviving racism. Simone achieves this by homing in on the King family, as patriarch Patrick King returns home from a second stint in prison. But what kind of life awaits Patrick King now that he is out? We dig into the struggles of transitioning...

Duration:01:16:59

INTERSTATE Meets Multiple Recommendations

12/16/2021
Authenticity was the heart of our last episode “INTERSTATE and Authentic Trans, Queer, and Asian-American Representation.” Our discussion included artists Kit Yan and Melissa Lee and experts AC Dumlao of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and Sheena Brevig of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers. The quintet (including host Ruthie Fierberg) deliberated about how we ensure authentic representation and how we can get producers, theatres, and studios to greenlight projects...

Duration:00:18:08

INTERSTATE and Authentic Trans, Queer, and Asian-American Representation

12/2/2021
Representation is the buzzword of the day. But mere presence means nothing if it isn’t accurate and genuine. Authentic representation in storytelling benefits not only members of historically excluded groups like Asian-Americans and trans people but members of every group, including the dominant culture. As of 2019, 69.1 percent of all film roles were white. How do we achieve a greater variety of stories, roles, and jobs in theatre, movies, and television? How do we ensure these stories and...

Duration:01:13:39

Why We Theater NOW: November 2021

11/25/2021
Host Ruthie Fierberg recommends the most thought-provoking and moving pieces of New York theatre she’s seen to date. These plays and musicals bring to life issues in our society, which make them ripe for discussion. Each is further proof of why we theater. Some of these shows may become full episodes in the future. Some of them relate to past episodes. All of them will appeal to your taste if you love Why We Theater. Ruthie wants to be sure you have the opportunity to see them live onstage...

Duration:00:20:45

RINSE, REPEAT meets Brave Girl Eating

11/18/2021
Harriet Brown’s memoir Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle With Anorexia is a must-read for anyone looking to better understand eating disorders after last week’s episode “RINSE, REPEAT and Eating Disorders.” The book serves as a fitting companion to Domenica Feraud’s Off-Broadway play Rinse, Repeat. Though the drama portrays a family’s struggle with this disease, the main perspective is Rachel’s. In our panel last episode, Domenica and expert Johanna Kandel shared personal experiences as...

Duration:00:14:36

RINSE, REPEAT and Eating Disorders

11/11/2021
Eating disorders affect 29 million Americans (9 percent of the population). Every 52 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies as a direct result of their eating disorder. Guided by Domenica Feraud’s rapturous play RINSE, REPEAT, this week we delve into eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, and every eating disorder on the spectrum. Host Ruthie Fierberg and Feraud unite with experts Dr. Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodriguez (researcher and clinical psychologist...

Duration:01:17:16

WITNESS UGANDA meets The Good Doctor

11/4/2021
Beloved medical drama THE GOOD DOCTOR has a lot to teach us. Beyond its premise—following the evolution of Dr. Shaun Murphy, a physician on the autism spectrum, and the hospital and its employees around him—and beyond its weekly case, the ABC television series also demonstrates the use of the strengths model in foreign aid. Expert Ana Jiménez-Bautista taught us the definition and importance of the strengths model in last week’s episode “Witness Uganda and Ethical Foreign Aid.” So this week,...

Duration:00:14:54