Arts & Culture

Harry Potter And The Forbidden Books

May 31, 2014

In my small Georgia hometown, which had 144 churches and one bar, Harry Potter was considered the height of devilish devices — a conspiracy created to lure innocent children down the wicked paths to moral ruin. I could count on one hand the number of kids I knew who'd read the forbidden books, and they'd been bullied for it. But I'd seen them in stacks at Wal-Mart (the only place books were actually sold in my town) and though I hadn't dared to admit it, they'd whispered to me.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Looks At Seventy

May 30, 2014
RI Philharmonic

This Sunday, internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins the Rhode Island Philharmonic for a concert to kick off the orchestra’s seventieth season.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender spoke with the orchestra’s executive director David Beauchesne to talk about the concert, the state of the orchestra at seventy, and building the next generation of musicians.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

For this month's Artscape, Rhode Island Public Radio's environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza profiles the Urban Pond Procession, a group of artists, scientists, educators, and residents who want to promote the health of urban ponds. The group's focal point is around raising awareness about the contamination that plagues Mashapaug Pond on the south side of Providence and ways to heal it.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Yes, “Blackbird,” by Scottish author David Harrower, is a toughie. There’s no way around but to say that it focuses intimately, deeply on child molestation. It considers who was involved. It asks if whether both of its main characters – a middle aged man and a 12-year-old girl -- did not each suffer greatly. And, most tellingly, it offers no solutions.

Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

First I’d like to say that “Sylvia” is an absolute true charmer of a play. It’s laugh out loud funny and can prompt small smiles, too. At 2nd Story, director Pat Hegnauer has given it force and speed and reached to its serious undercurrent, too. This is one of the very best productions of the current theater season. Don’t miss it.

Okay, about explaining it all. Playwright A.R. Gurney, best known for “Love Letters” and “The Dinner Party,” has set it up simply. A middle-aged couple with

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a Broadway baby at heart. After all, “42nd Street” does go on for two hours and forty minutes. It’s filled with deliberately bad jokes and dialog like this: Says a director to an actor:  “Musical comedy.

The greatest words in the English language.”


The memo arrived on paper.

Because it was 1994.

A notice, to all NPR staff, proclaiming, "Internet is coming to NPR!"

And there was no directive to log on to this fast-growing "organization," by the way. "If you do not want to use Internet," the memo read, "simply do nothing."



We wrap up All Tech with one more retro moment: An anniversary. Twenty years ago today, staffers at NPR received a paper memo. Remember those? The first line read: Internet is coming to NPR. That was punctuated with an exclamation point.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The 12th annual National School Scrabble Championship will be hosted by Hasbro, Inc. on Saturday in Providence.

Over one hundred students between the fourth and eighth grades from the U.S. and Canada will compete against each other in teams of two. Hasbro’s Karen Davis says the tournament will have many educational benefits for children.

John Bender / RIPR

Earlier this month dozens of musicians from across New England and beyond gathered in Providence for the eleventh annual ‘Rhode Island All-Day Sacred Harp Singing.’ If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a clue: it doesn’t involve any harps.  It's the subject of this month's Rhode Island Artscape.

That’s the sound of about one hundred people, gathered at the Quaker Meeting House on the East Side of Providence.  They’re taking part in the state’s largest gathering of Sacred Harp singers.  The eleventh annual ‘Rhode Island All-Day Sacred Harp Singing.’

Ah, yes, welcome back, “Cloud Nine.” Churchill’s play was a hit in certain quarters back there when the world as we knew it seemed to be tumbling onto a landscape that was unclear and wonderful and scary.

The play won an Obie, Off Broadway’s version of the Tony Awards. It was done around the country by risk-taking regional theaters including a crackerjack production in the 1983-84 season at what we then called the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Scrabble fans have voted and there is a new word to play for points. Starting Sunday “geocache” will count as a word and be included in the official Merriam Webster Scrabble Dictionary. Geocache, spelled G-E-O-C-A-C-H-E, is a verb meaning to find items in a treasure hunt using a GPS. Hasbro spokesperson Shawn Rowan said 'geocache' beat out 15 other nominated words.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

You know, every now and then a listener or reader calls, or e-mails, or tweets, or something, to disagree with one of my reviews. Now I know you, dear listener, find that hard to believe. But it happens. And the most used complaint asks whether “Mr. Gale and I saw the same play?”

Well, the answer is “no.”  After all, we are different folks with different sexes, backgrounds, beliefs, experiences. It’s inevitable that we’ll have different takes watching a play.

American Songwriter

The local music scene lost an important musician this month.  David Lamb, one half of the Rhode Island folk duo Brown Bird passed away late last week, after a year-long battle with leukemia. Lamb was only 35.

file / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has selected the artist who will paint his official portrait. The Rhode Island artist beat out 123 others in the national search.

Julie Gearan said there was something about the fact that she’s not a traditional portrait painter combined with Chafee not being a traditional politician that drew her to apply for the job of painting his official portrait.

John Bender / RIPR

Artist Ed Osborn works in audio and video to create installations, sculptures and performance pieces. Osborn is an assistant professor in the Visual Art Department at Brown University.

On his website, his work is described as “testing the patience of audiences.”  His next performance is a preview of a new sound installation that takes place on Saturday April 26th at Machines With Magnets, 400 Main Street, Pawtucket at 4:30 pm.