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Arts & Culture

Corona Radio Theater: Word for Word & ‘Retablos’ by Octavio Solis - Manatee on Mars - Frameline44

Lorenzo Fernandez-Kopec

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts in Times of Corona, guest host Angie Coiro welcomes back members of theater company Word for Word, for their fifth appearance on the virtual stage of our Corona Radio Theater. They will be performing several stories from their latest production:  Retablos: Stories from A Life Lived Along the Border, a memoir by writer, playwright and author Octavio Solis, who will join Word for Word and perform one of the chapters. 

Author of more than twenty plays, Octavio Solis is considered one of the most prominent Latino playwrights in America. His works have been produced in theatres across the country, and among his many awards and grants, Solis has received an NEA Playwriting Fellowship, the National Latino Playwriting Award, and the PEN Center USA Award for Drama.

Solis, who is based in Ashland, Oregon, has written and published fiction and short plays, but Retablos is his first book. He will perform the title chapter in Word for Word’s performance. Other cast members (see picture) are: Maria Candelaria, Edie Flores, Carla Gallardo, Gendell Hernández, Gabriel Montoya, Brady Morales-Woolery, Carolina Morones, and Ryan Tasker. Directed by Sheila Balter and Jim Cave; with original music by David R. Molina. 

We talk with dramaturg Philippa Kelly and playwright Tanya Shaffer about Manatee on Mars, a new play presented by Remote Theater, a new theater group born in the pandemic and dedicated to developing new plays. In partnership with the Playwrights Foundation, Remote Theater presents the first public reading of Manatee on Mars on September 26, via Zoom, following a 4-week development workshop under its new play development series, Remote Studio.

Marking the 30th anniversary of the ADA act, Manatee on Mars tells the story of Cody, a 12-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who tries to makes sense of the world through the lens of his favorite cartoon, The Adventures of Floaty Potato; of his estranged parents Margo and Dan; and of a wealthy family who is trying to force Cody out of their daughter's public school.

Plus, we talk to Zachary Green, producer of The Obituary of Tunde Johnson — one of Frameline44’s Centerpiece films. 

Written by 19-year-old, Nigerian-born discovery Stanley Kalu, and directed by Ali LeRoi (Everyone Hates Chris), The Obituary of Tunde Johnson tells the story of a wealthy, Nigerian-American teen who is pulled over by police, shot to death, and immediately awakens - reliving the same day over and over, trapped in a terrifying time loop that forces him to confront difficult truths about his life and himself.  

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and opened the Austin Film Festival a month later. The film was the only Breakthrough Performance film out of 160 films at the 2020 Outfest Film Festival and just won the Audience Award for the best Debut Narrative Feature for the festival. 

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson will screen on September 24, with a Q&A following the movie, as part of Frameline44, the world’s largest virtual LGBTQ+ film festival, which runs through September 27.

Open Air with guest host Angie Coiro; heard live on Thursday, September 24 at 1pm. Archived in its entirety at this location afterwards. Listen now or anytime…