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Corona Radio Theater: Word for Word & Langston Hughes’ ‘The Blues I’m Playing’ - OUT of Site - E4TT

Gordon Parks

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts in Times of Corona, host David Latulippe welcomes back, for their third appearance on the virtual stage of our Corona Radio Theater, members of theater company Word for Word, and their presentation of the 1934 short story The Blues I'm Playing, by Langston Hughes (pictured).

Set both in the Harlem Renaissance and in Paris of the 1920's, The Blues I'm Playing introduces us to Oceola Jones, a young black pianist, who comes under the patronage of a wealthy white woman. 

First published in Scribner’s Magazine in May 1934, and in the collection The Ways of White Folks that same year, The Blues I’m Playing combines Hughes’s irony, his directness, and his use of dialect. 

Bouncing from New York to Paris, the story shows subtle forms of racism, class prejudice, sexism, and liberal condescension, while describing the beauty of blues and jazz, and the black artist’s experiences in the white-dominated world of modern art.

Word for Word first performed The Blues I’m Playing in 1996. This week’s cast includes Artis Fountaine, Margo Hall, Joel Mullennix, and Patricia Silver. Directed by Ellen Sebastian-Chang. 

We talk to San Francisco artist Seth Eisen, founder and artistic director of Eye Zen, about the return of OUT of Site: SOMA, the performance-driven, queer history tour of San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, this time as a livestreamed but still interactive event. Like so many other arts organizations, Eye Zen was forced to move its affairs online. 

Conceived and directed by Eisen, OUT of Site launched in 2018 in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. The project continued last year, spotlighting San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, home of the world’s first “Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District.” 

With an ensemble cast featuring Leigh Crow, Ryan Hayes and Hector Zavala, OUT of Site: SOMA rediscovers the neighborhood once known as South of the Slot, with an initial run of six shows – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m., local time, June 19 -28. 

Also livestreamed will be Dreams of Distant Galas, the virtual CD release party for the third recording of contemporary chamber group Ensemble for These Times(E4TT), on June 26 at 6PM. We talk with E4TT members soprano Nanette McGuinness, violinist Ilana Blumberg and social media assistant Chelsea Holmes. 

With its third release, Once/Memory/Night: Paul Celan, the group is commemorating the centennial of the birth of seminal 20th century Romanian-born, German-language poet and translator, Paul Celan (1920-1970). On the CD works by composers David Garner, Jared Redmond, Stephen Eddins, and Libby Larsen. 

Dreams of Distant Galas: CD Release Party, will be performed via live stream by Nanette McGuinness, soprano, Anne Lerner, cello, and Dale Tsang, piano; plus guest artists Laura Reynolds, English horn, Ilana Blumberg, violin, and Xin Zhao, piano. 

Open Air with host David Latulippe will be broadcast live on Thursday, June 18 at 1pm. Due to copyright restrictions, this week's "Corona Radio Theater" segment cannot be archived.


Permission for the live broadcast was granted by Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.