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Segment 1: An article from The Atlantic sparked debate over the merits of gym class last year.

Gym class in school is supposed to be fun. But according to a study, it may have a negative impact on students. In today's conversation, we explore the merits of gym and how a new crop of physical education teachers is trying to make P.E. enjoyable for every kid.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The average length of a NFL game? A little over three hours.

The AFC Championship game on Sunday would lock in a Superbowl spot for either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium.

Some arts organizations in the metro are betting that visitors can do both: attend a play and catch the second half of the game; stop by a museum for an exhibition and see the kickoff; or listen to a Symphony concert and still witness a few final touchdowns. 

Segment 1: What "the teens" in Kansas City look like in the rearview mirror. 

From the Royals winning the World Series to new arts developments, the end of the decade is a natural time to take stock. What's new in Kansas City? Where has progress been made? Where hasn't it?

Unicorn Theatre

Sarah Bernhardt was known for her eccentricities. She slept in a coffin, she kept a pet lion and attracted lovers everywhere she went.

Bernhardt made five visits to Kansas City between 1887 and 1918, during nine American tours. Her 1906 performance at Convention Hall reportedly broke a world record, selling more than 6,000 seats for the world’s largest indoor audience of “legitimate theater.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Actress and singer Debra Bluford, known for her work in comedies and musicals, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer. She had been diagnosed three weeks ago, according to a friend.

A regular on many Kansas City stages, Bluford performed in nearly 20 shows at the American Heartland Theatre before it closed in 2013. She had also acted with Kansas City Actors Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage, New Theatre & Restaurant and Quality Hill Playhouse.

McGown Gordon Construction

In Kansas City and across the country, performance venues and artists have had to make adjustments due to more extreme weather events.

And when it comes to climate change, there's one thing arts organizations need to do: "Prepare." That's according to Karin Rabe, properties master at the Alley Theatre in Houston, where flooding is a growing concern. 

Segment 1: Obama's national security advisor advisor recounts the impact her upbringing had on her success in Washington.

Susan Rice shared insights from her new autobiography, which details how she balanced her political roles with her personal life and family. As a black woman in America, Rice's parents told her she "had to be twice as good to be considered almost equal." She said her parents had a great impact on her success, noting they enstilled in she and her siblings the values of "education, of service and of trying to acheive excellence." 

Nicole Bissey / Nicole Bissey Photography

Performer Christopher Barksdale has given it a lot of thought, and has come to the conclusion that it's quite possible Jesus lived in a "cancel culture" just like we do. 

Segment 1: Gun policy specialist says the gun control debate needs to shift.

In his book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America," constitutional law specialist Adam Winkler examines how Americans approach the gun control debate. He explained the need to concentrate on ending everyday gun violence rather than mass shootings, and says gun rights and gun control are not mutually exclusive.

Brandon Dahlquist

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre on Sunday announced that Stuart Carden will become its new artistic director. His first day in the office will be Tuesday, Sept. 3. 

Segment 1: Lawmakers from urban districts want their counterparts from rural Missouri to come witness the devestation guns create in their cities.

Members of Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus expressed frustration with Gov. Mike Parson for his unwillingness to take up gun violence in next month's special session. They say they're not shocked, but disheartened, by the lack of urgency to address the issue.

Segment 1: What's up in northeast Johnson County?

As part of our continuing conversations with community newspaper editors, here's some inside perspective on the news in the Shawnee Mission Post. This episode's focus: contested municipal elections in Overland Park and Shawnee, and non-discrimination ordinances in several cities countywide.

Segment 2: The story of a new play inspired by the 30 Americans exhibit.

Jim Lightfoot

Missy Koonce has figured out that "weird ages well."

For 30 years, the actor, writer and director has entertained Kansas City with her character acting, parodies of old shows like "Bonanza," and for a while, as owner of Bar Natasha.

That local legacy will be capped this fall when Koonce moves to Indianapolis, Indiana, where her partner has been transferred for work.

"I think what I'm most excited about, about going someplace new, is nobody knows me there," she said.

Segment 1: Kansas City, Missouri's mayor reflects on his time in office. 

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James leaves office July 31. He discusses his eight-year legacy before he hands over the job to the next mayor.

  • Sly James, mayor, Kansas City, Missouri 

Segment 2, beginning at 37:13: The legacy of a Kansas City theater director, actor, and entertainer.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Growing up in Kansas City, Harvey Williams lived near 12th Street and Vine in what used to be called the Wayne Minor Projects.

"It was the heart of the city, the heat of the city, especially for black people," he says.

But it was in the United States Army, as the Vietnam War was winding down, that he learned about diversity.

Portrait Session: Harvey Williams

Jul 19, 2019

Harvey Williams is the founder of a black-owned theater in Kansas City; he sees that as an important addition to the arts ecosystem here in town. In this intimate conversation, Williams tells his own story, which begins at 12th and Vine, and explains why despite all the major iconic roles he's played on Kansas City stages, it matters enough to him carve out a space for diverse voices that he's doing it in his retirement years, when he could be "sitting on the porch, watching the mailman run up and down the street."

Segment 1: A Fringe-famous performer tells his story.

Brother John is a pastor and storyteller who researches characters from African-American history then creates performances that bring history to life. He's become a regular contributor to Kansas City's Fringe Festival. This year, he's focusing on Smoky Robinson.

Mike Strong

How many words are necessary to thrill an audience with a murder mystery? Choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown says he can do it in two: "Look out!"

After all, he suggests, excitement happens in the body as much as in the mind.

"If you're trying to say very visceral things — fear and intrigue and distrust — the body is a really good vessel for that," Estes-Brown says.

The words "look out" are the only ones spoken in what is otherwise a dance performance. Titled "Alibi," its show is billed as a noir thriller.

Brian Paulette / Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

This summer, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is trying something new in Southmoreland Park: a play not written by William Shakespeare. The organization has updated its mission to expand the repertoire and showcase works inspired by the English poet and playwright. 

"Our primary goal is to bring Shakespeare to as many people as possible and make it as accessible as possible to as many people as we can," says Sidonie Garrett, the festival's executive artistic director. "So I'm finding pathways in through other works."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Stage names aren't just for actors. Scott "Rex" Hobart and the members of his honky tonk and country band, Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys, have used other people's names on stage since they started playing together in 1997.

But Hobart has another career, one that's off-stage.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Actor Clifford “Kip” Niven, well-known to theater audiences in Kansas City and a Hollywood mainstay going back to the 1970s, died yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 73.

Niven was known for his role on the 1970s television show "Alice" and for playing in dozens of local productions, as well as his avid support of the Kansas City theater scene.

Popular and ubiquitous in the theater community, Niven cut a wide swath of friendship. That was made evident by the overwhelming shock and grief flooding social media of Niven’s sudden passing.

Logan Black

In an environment where a person can be considered an "individual augmentee" and a dog a piece of equipment — that is, a combat situation — the relationship between the two may be the only humanizing factor.

Kansas City actor and playwright Logan Black’s one-man play "Bond" explores the trauma of serving in an Iraqi combat zone alongside his best friend, a Labrador named Diego.

Seg. 1: Logan Black | Seg. 2: Oregon Trail

Apr 24, 2019

Segment 1: Logan Black.

We visit with a veteran, actor, and playwright about his latest play, Bond, a story about his service in Iraq with Diego, his bomb-sniffing dog. 

Joan Marcus / HAMILTON National Tour

As of today, Kansas Citians who’ve been eager to see the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical, "Hamilton," can register for chance to buy tickets.

Since the show's opening in 2015, tickets have been hard to come by in any city where it plays, and the ever-growing fanbase is willing to pay just about anything for a seat.

Segment 1: Hamilton Mania.

Hamilton is one of Broadway's biggest productions in decades — and it's coming to Kansas City this summer. In this conversation, we tap into the mania surrounding a musical about one of America's lesser-known founding fathers.

Cory Weaver

With her stoic beauty, her uni-brow and her dark hair braided with flowers, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has an iconic face. Kahlo died in the 1950s, but she continues to fascinate people world-wide — including this spring in Kansas City. 

"She's unapologetic. She's angry and she's hurt and she's putting it in this portrait. I like that honesty and that rawness," says actor and writer Vanessa Severo, who stars in a play about Kahlo at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When it comes to acting ill, Diane Bulan is a veteran.

"I've been sick for quite some time," jokes Bulan, a perfectly healthy Kansas City actor who has worked as a "standardized patient" for about 15 years.

Segment 1: Why a Midwesterner is leading the charge to save manatees.

To a native Kansas Citian, a sea animal like the manatee might as well be something mythical like a unicorn or a chupacabra. In this conversation, we learn how a nature lover from Independence wound up leading an organization that helped take the beloved sea cow off the endangered list.

Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout, who writes for the "Wall Street Journal," sees at least 100 plays a year—about half of them are in New York City, and the other half are all over the United States.

He's the only drama critic working for a national publication who regularly travels for work. Over the past couple of decades, this has afforded him a unique bird's eye view of the American arts scene: He sees that exceptional art is created even where only locals normally find it.

If you can smell what the Rock is cooking, you might be interested in the wine "Niles Plonk" is fermenting.

Kraig Keesaman, who owns Windy Wine Company in Osborn, Missouri, wrestles with the newly formed Journey Pro KC as a nasty wine snob named Niles Plonk (Plonké when he puts on airs).

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