Since 1980, City Arts & Lectures has presented onstage conversations with outstanding figures in literature, politics, criticism, science, and the performing arts, offering the most diverse perspectives about ideas and values. City Arts & Lectures programs can be heard on more than 130 public radio stations across the country and wherever you get your podcasts. The broadcasts are co-produced with KQED 88.5 FM in San Francisco. Visit CITYARTS.NET for more info.
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Barry Jenkins on The 1619 Project
This week – Jeff Chang talks to Nikole Hannah-Jones, one of today’s foremost investigative journalists. Her reporting on civil rights and racial justice, including school segregation, has earned her numerous awards, chief among them a Pulitzer Prize for her work on the 1619 Project. It’s an ongoing initiative from the New York Times that reframes the way we understand America’s history by examining the modern legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans. On November 29, 2021, Nikole Hannah-Jones came to San Francisco to celebrate the release of the book version of the 1619 Project. Joining her was one of the book’s contributors, Barry Jenkins, the Academy-Award-winning director of Moonlight, and most recently, a television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”. But before the two sat down to talk to Jeff Chang, Forrest Hamer read his poem “Race Riot”.
For this special archive edition of City Arts and Lectures, we present a 2008 interview with the lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim. Since his Broadway debut at age 27 as the lyricist for “West Side Story”, Stephen Sondheim has stretched the conventions of musical theater with sophisticated storylines and complex musicality. Though his work has always been controversial, and met with mixed reviews from critics and audiences, Sondheim’s impact on music theater is undeniable. His landmark shows include “Company”, “Into the Woods”, “A Little Night Music”, “Sunday in the Park with George”, “Assassins”, and “Sweeney Todd”. Sondheim has won eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Pulitzer Prize, eight Tony Awards, and received the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Stephen Sondheim died on Friday, November 26, 2021, the day after enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with friends. He was 91 years old. At the time of his death, he was working on a new musical called “Square One”.
In this program, recorded on March 9, 2008, Sondheim was interviewed on the stage of the Herbst Theater in San Francisco by Frank Rich of the New York Times. Join me now for a 2008 conversation with the late Stephen Sondheim.
Gary Shteyngart’s new book is “Our Country Friends”, which he began writing during the first month of the pandemic. It’s the story of eight friends who shelter in place at the upstate New York home of a Russian-born American writer. His previous books include “Super Sad True Love Story” and “Absurdistan”. On November 8, 2021, Gary Shteyngart joined Andrew Sean Greer, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of “Less”, to talk about finding humor in dystopic times.
Jelani Cobb is a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, historian, and professor of journalism at Columbia, and one of today’s most important public intellectuals. He is the co-editor of a new anthology, The Matter of Black Lives, which compiles New Yorker essays on race in America through time, by writers including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, and Zadie Smith. On November 5, 2021, he came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco for an on-stage conversation with Jeff Chang and a live audience. They spoke about diversity in the newsroom, the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle, and the findings of a task force created by Lyndon Johnson in the wake of racial riots in the 1960s.
In 1991, Anita Hill testified at the Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. It was an act of enormous bravery, and Hill immediately became a symbolic figure of extraordinary controversy.
Anita Hill’s role in bringing gender-based discrimination to America’s consciousness cannot be understated. In fact, prior to her testimony, sexual harassment simply wasn’t part of our collective consciousness. Her work for fair treatment in the workplace, and for a society free of harassment and violence, continues to this day.
On October 22, 2021, Anita Hill came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to speak with USF law professor Lara Bazelon, about the arc of her remarkable life, and her new book Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.
Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, and The Library Book, returns with On Animals. The book is a collection of essays she’s written for The New Yorker-- where she is a staff writer-- that catalogue her love and wonder of animals. On October 13, 2021, Susan Orlean talked to Steven Winn about her fascination with all kinds of creatures, and some truly bizarre animal owners, like a woman who has twenty-three pet tigers.
I have loved City Arts since the 1990s, but the show with Jill Soloway et al ... my god. Sarah Palin introduces blatantly racist language in public? And you wonder why people of color are not eager to align with you. I can’t believe that nobody in your group reminded the idiot who made that statement of the violent language we’ve been employing to keep black people marginalized for centuries.
Glad to finally see this program do podcasts after years of not keeping up with the times!
Four star for the show in general.
Two star for Jonathan Franzen’s talk: extremely boring and stoic.