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Word for Word: Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’, part III - Video artist John Sanborn - Peter Robinson

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts in Times of Corona, we raise the virtual curtain of the Corona Radio Theater for the third part of The Machine Stops, a short story by E.M. Forster, presented by members of theater company Word for Word. Host David Latulippe checks in with founding artistic director and actor Susan Harloe; and he talks with video artists John Sanborn and Agnès Guillaume about All Roads Lead, their joint show at gallery 836M in San Francisco. Plus: reading suggestions for the new year, and a tribute to espionage novel author John le Carré by Open Air’s regular contributor Peter Robinson. 

Written in 1909 with uncanny foresight to life in a pandemic, The Machine Stops paints a world in which humanity has moved underground, relying on a giant machine to provide all bodily and spiritual needs. Each individual lives in isolation in a standard room, communicating via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing apparatus. 

Word for Word produced The Machine Stops as the first installment of their new ‘Word for Wordcast’, the creation of which was inspired by Open Air’s invitation to broadcast a live reading of a short story as part of our Corona Radio Theater initiative. Word for Word opened the Corona Radio Theater series in April 2020 with Tobias Wolff's story, Firelight

British novelist, essayist, and short story writer E.M. Forster is perhaps best known for his novels A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910) and his greatest success, A Passage to India (1924). This third episode of The Machine Stops  is titled  The Homeless

The Machine Stops is directed Gendell Hing-Hernández, with an original sound design by David R. Molina. Actors: Carla Gallardo, Susan Harloe*, David Everett Moore*, Brian Rivera* **Ryan Tasker*​. Dramaturgy:  Delia MacDougall. Sound engineer: Joe Moore. Production manager: Colm McNally (*=AEA **=SAG/AFTRA).

Berkeley video artist John Sanborn’s career spans from the early days of experimental video art in the 1970s, through the heyday of 80’sMTV music/videos and 90’s interactive art, to digital media art of today. His French colleague Agnès Guillaume is a former musician who turned to video art in 2010. She produces videos, mixed media works and embroideries. 

Their show, titled All Roads Lead, demonstrates their contrasting approaches to their shared art form, video. Guillaume’s classically trained musicianship (the minimalist) allows her to use a single thought to conjure multiple moods, while Sanborn (the maximalist) preferring a pop culture lexicon that seeks to mash, mangle and transpose. 

All Roads Lead opens January 21 and runs through May 28 at Gallery 836M, located at 836 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. More information www.836m.org

Plus, Open Air’s regular contributor and critic at large, Peter Robinson, reviews the movie News of the World, a Western featuring Tom Hanks - his first appearance in the genre. Also, reading suggestions for the new year, and a tribute to British author of espionage novels, John le Carré, who passed away in December 2020 at age 89.

Open Air with host David Latulippe; heard live on Thursday, January 21 at 1pm, and archived afterwards at this location. Listen now or anytime…