So this radio host walks onstage with two dancers … Sounds like the setup for a joke, right? Oh no, it’s for real, and UCSB Arts & Lectures is bringing it to you Saturday night at the Granada Theatre in One Radio Host, Two Dancers.
You probably know Ira Glass as the creator and host of WBEZ Chicago’s quirky public radio show, "This American Life." Heard on more than 500 public radio stations in the United States plus Canada and Australia, most weeks it’s the most popular podcast in the country. If you’re a regular listener, you no doubt look forward to Glass’ mild, sweetly nebbishy voice coming through your radio every week with stories ranging from hilarious to heart-wrenching.
In May 2012, TAL created the third of its live shows, recorded onstage in New York and beamed out to movie theaters all across the country. It incorporated audio — stories and such, as heard on the radio show — with visual bits, including dancers from Monica Bill Barnes & Co., a contemporary New York-based company founded in 1997 with the mission of celebrating individuality, humor and the innate theatricality of everyday life.
Glass and the company collaborated on three short dances as part of that show. He and Barnes agreed that their work shared a common quality, even though one is all words and the other is all movement.
“Ira and feel like our aesthetic is very similar even though we work in really different media,” Barnes said. “And we thought it would be a lot of fun to see how the two would exist at the same time on stage.”
The blend was so well-received that they decided to do a full show combining stories and dance, performed by Glass, Barnes and dancer Anna Bass, who began working with MBB & Co. in 2003 and now serves as its associate artistic director.
So what is it like to be the "silent partners" while Glass is doing all the talking?
“Anna and I don't feel like silent partners,” Barnes said. “It’s been such a wonderfully collaborative process.”
“And all three of our voices are really present throughout the evening,” Bass added.
Tune in to see how it all goes down Saturday night. This event is the first in UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Public Radio Heads series, also including Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders (Nov. 13), Andrew Bird (Nov. 21) and David Sedaris (Feb. 28).
For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or purchase online by clicking here. Tickets are also available through the Granada Theatre at 805.899.2222 or by clicking here.
— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.