This week on “State of Wonder,” the writer behind “Angels in America” and the movies “Lincoln” and “Munich” on writing for today, the head of Portland Center Stage on the hit musical “Fun Home” and more.
Tony Kushner Finds the Humanity in the Epic - 1:05
Playwright Tony Kushner is a fearless explorer of spaces where the personal meets the political. His two-part masterpiece, “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” kicked down the door to a discussion of the AIDS epidemic, and his screenwriting work on films like “Lincoln” and “Munich” manage to find the most internal, human stories in mammoth historical events. Kushner is headed to Oregon to deliver the keynote speech at the Oregon Arts Summit on Oct. 6, and we got him on the phone to talk about what he’s working on now, including a play about President Trump (maybe) and a new take on “West Side Story” with his regular collaborator, Steven Spielberg.
Portland Painter Arvie Smith Wins the Governor’s Art Award for Lifetime Achievement - 8:53
To celebrate the Oregon Arts Summit and the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Arts Commission, Gov. Kate Brown has resurrected the Governor’s Art Awards after a 10-year hiatus. The big winners of the Lifetime Achievement Awards are Portland painter Arvie Smith and the Kalapuya and Coos storyteller Esther Stutzman. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, Portland Opera and The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation are also taking home awards. We sat down with Smith last year before his solo show at the Portland Art Museum to discuss his vivid, explosive paintings rich with political overtones, humor, and heartbreak.
For more about Smith, don’t miss this profile by “Oregon Art Beat.”
opbmusic Session in the Woods with Folk Singer Joan Shelley - 16:07
This year, folk singer Joan Shelley released her fifth solo album with some big-name help. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy produced and recorded the album in his Chicago studio. With those massive resources at her fingertips, Shelley could have gone big with a fuller sound and plenty of bells and whistles; instead, she doubled down on a minimalist sound that has made her stand out in an increasingly grandiose music industry. Recently, Shelley and guitarist Nathan Salsburg performed two songs for OPB on a hiking trail in Portland’s Marquam Nature Park. You can find videos at opbmusic.
Chris Coleman on Directing the Tony-Winning Musical ‘Fun Home’ and Portland Center Stage’s Upcoming Season - 24:15
Portland Center Stage, the city’s biggest theater company, opened its 30th season this month with a most unlikely musical: the Tony-award-winning, coming-of-age story “Fun Home,” based on the graphic novel by cartoonist Alison Bechdel. It’s the story of Bechdel’s own coming out in contrast to the closeted, repressed life her father lived, and the title refers to a nickname she and her siblings had for the family house, which also happened to be the town’s funeral home. You will never laugh so hard at kids making up a musical commercial about embalming. We talk with artistic director Chris Coleman about the production, which is the first by a local theater on the West Coast, as well as the rest of the season.
“Fun Home” runs through Oct. 22.