“We know this is weird,” says Ira Glass at the start of each performance of his Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, which comes to Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall on Saturday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. Glass, who is best known as the radio host of This American Life, has teamed with choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and dancer Anna Bass to restage interviews as dance pieces in a vaudevillian-style theatrical production by pairing two arts forms that—as Glass puts it—“have no business being together.” Glass uses recorded interviews, music, and personal stories to create a narrative for Barnes and Bass, who evoke characters through dance, producing “a perfect—and perfectly unexpected—union” (The Santa Barbara Independent). In true Glassian form, the performance is served up in three acts. Act One: being a performer; Act Two: falling in love and staying in love; and Act Three: losing what you love. “This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever been part of,” states Glass.
Glass met Barnes while competing in a Dancing With the Stars-type contest called The Talent Show. They thought their work shared a sensibility, even though hers includes no talking and his involves no physical movement. In May 2012, the duo collaborated on three short dances that were part of a This American Life variety show that was shown in 600 movie theaters nationwide. Following its success, Glass and Barnes decided to make a piece of theater that combines story and dance. Glass has taken the production to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco where it has consistently been a sellout.
Glass is the creator and host of This American Life, which premiered on Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ in 1995 and is now heard in more than 500 public radio stations by 1.7 million listeners each week. The show also airs each week on the CBC in Canada and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio network. At age 19 in 1978, Glass began his career as an intern at National Public Radio’s network headquarters in Washington, DC. He has worked as a tape cutter, newscast writer, desk assistant, editor, and producer. Under Glass, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including multiple Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards. In 2007 and 2008, a television adaptation of This American Life ran on the Showtime network, winning three Emmy Awards including Outstanding Nonfiction Series.
Monica Bill Barnes is the Artistic Director of Monica Bill Barnes & Company in New York City. Founded in 1997, the company has performed in more than 50 cities throughout the Unites States and has been commissioned and presented by The American Dance Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Since 2006, Barnes has been creating duets for herself and dance partner Anna Bass, performing in comedy festivals, films, and at literary events. Barnes has been an invited guest artist at many universities, has choreographed for various theater productions, and has been commissioned by Parsons Dance and The Juilliard School.
Anna Bass began working with Monica Bill Barnes & Company in 2003 and now serves as Associate Artistic Director. Bass was the Assistant Choreographer for The Jammer at The Atlantic Theater, Goodbar at the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater, and These Paper Bullets at Yale Repertory Theatre. She has performed all over the country and on stages ranging from public fountains and city parks to New York City Center and Carnegie Hall.
Tickets for Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host on Saturday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $30.00 to $78.00 and are subject to change. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, February 1 and are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at www.calperformances.org, and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. For more information about tickets and discounts, go to www.calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.