Berkeley’s Shotgun Players celebrates 20 years on stage

The bee bursts onto the scene (from L to R: Will Hand, Juliana Lustenader, Josh Pollock (Banjo), Anthony Nemirovsky). Photo by Pak Han.

The Berkeley theater company Shotgun Players started performing 20 years ago in the basement of a Berkeley pizzeria. Now it’s got its own building, but the company has stuck with its founding principles: taking on little-known or brand new plays, and working hard to create theater for the community.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the company is presenting an entire season of world premieres: five brand news plays.

This aired on Crosscurrents on 12/6/11.

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San Francisco’s Jewish Theatre Prepares to Close

(L to R) Melissa Quine, Galen Murphy-Hoffman, David Mendelsohn, and Cassidy Brown in TJT's production of In the Maze of Our Own Lives; photo by Ken Friedman.

The Jewish Theatre in San Francisco is closing at the end of its current season. In its 34 years, the company has produced original plays and reproductions ranging from works inspired by Yiddish poetry and Biblical traditions, to plays about the experiences of German Jews between the world wars, and the conflict in the Middle East.

KALW’s Molly Samuel went to see the play that opens The Jewish Theatre’s final act. It’s a Depressionera story that resonates with the economic reality the theater and many other arts organizations are facing today.

This aired on Crosscurrents on 11/10/11.

Unlocking the legacy of Houdini

Harry Houdini, full-length portrait, standing, facing front, in chains, c. 1899. Library of Congress. McManus-Young Collection.

A new exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco explores the life and legacy of the great escape artist.

Reported with Seth Samuel, aired on Crosscurrents on 10/31/11.

Surviving public transportation as a senior

Take a quick look around while on Muni, BART, or AC Transit, and you’ll notice that a lot of the people who depend on public transit are seniors. But not all seniors are that comfortable navigating the system. So at ages 70, 80, and 90, some seniors are going back to school.

This aired on Crosscurrents on 10/26/11.

Birding on Alcatraz

Alcatraz may not be the first place that comes to mind for bird-watching, but the authors of the birding blog Maganrord aren’t your typical birders. KALW’s Molly Samuel spoke to the bloggers and bird enthusiasts at Alcatraz and brought back signs of life from the long abandoned island.

This aired on KALW’s Crosscurrents on July 26 and again on September 15.

Snicket on Sendak

The movie Where the Wild Things Are, based on the children’s book of the same name, comes out this week. It tells the story of a boy named Max who goes on an adventure to the land… where the wild things are. I talked with San Francisco couple and children’s literature dynamos Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown about Maurice Sendak’s magical book.

Aired on Crosscurrents on 10/14.