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Arts and culture

Courtesy of the National Black Arts Festival

The National Black Arts Festivals is dedicated to highlighting and celebrating artwork by artists of African descent. And every year, they focus on one discipline. This past fall was theater.

Since it was started by the Fulton County Arts Council in 1988, however, the National Black Arts Festival has transitioned from a yearly three-day festival to a year-round organization. One of their recent initiatives dives into Atlanta’s schools systems.

Superhero Bugs Take Over Center For Puppetry Arts

20 hours ago
Madalina Anton

The upcoming Center for Puppetry Arts production is not about Pinocchio, Punch or Judy. It’s all about bugs. Called “The Adventures of Mighty Bug,” the title character, Mighty Bug, must save insect town Bugville from the evil villain Scorpiana.

The show features body puppetry, basically very elaborate costumes, along with shadow puppets. The set is also designed to look like a comic book because according to puppeteer Amy Sweeney, who plays Scorpiana, all bugs have their own superhero powers.

Donald Glover, creator/executive producer/director, participates in the "Atlanta" panel during the FX Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Donald Glover poses in the press room with the award for best performance by an actor in a television series - musical or comedy for "Atlanta" at the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Ca
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

"Atlanta" won two Golden Globe Awards. Not the city — which isn't to say we don't deserve it — but the television series helmed by writer, actor and musician Donald Glover.

The show follows the exploits of Earn Marks, played by Glover, as he navigates the city's hip-hop scene, managing his rapper cousin who goes by the name Paperboy. The program has earned critical praise for its first season, and now from the Golden Globes.

Movie About McDonald’s Founder Turns Ga. Sets Into Midwest

23 hours ago
The logo of McDonald's is illuminated at a restaurant in Hirschaid, Germany, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016.
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

In John Lee Hancock's bio-drama "The Founder," Northwest suburban businessman Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, beholds an empty tract of land on Lee Street in Des Plaines that will become the site for the first franchised McDonald's restaurant.

The movie, opening Friday, also shows us Kroc's brick home in the Scarsdale subdivision of Arlington Heights, the village where he hobnobs with the social elite at the Rolling Green Country Club.

City Lights: Noise Ordinances; Joan Kroc; And More

Jan 17, 2017
Pixabay Images

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Preston Wiles / Dutton

Burgers, fries and a soda did not become a ubiquitous roadside meal because of the McDonald's brothers.

Though they may have invented the concept, it was Ray Kroc who took a single business, McDonald's, and turned it into an international franchise.

Bleux Stockings Society Live Lit Series Turns One

Jan 17, 2017
Wes Cummings

A year ago, the Bleux Stockings Society's founders set their sights high. Bleux Stockings is one of the youngest live lit monthly events in Atlanta, where readers present their work in front of a audience. Its reading slots are open to cis and trans women and non-binary people.

Andrew Eccles / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

When Hope Boykin last visited WABE, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater veteran was starring as Odetta, the woman often referred to as "the voice of the Civil Rights movement," in a world premiere piece by Matthew Rushing.

Now, as Boykin prepares to return to Atlanta, she’s bringing a work of her own to the Fox Theatre’s stage.

City Lights: Alvin Ailey Dance; Matisyahu; And More

Jan 13, 2017
Paul Kolnik / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Pixabay Images

Atlanta's music scene is legendary, and recording studios are a big part of it.  But, some studios have caused noise complaints.  A few have seen deadly shootings.

That prompted a proposed city ordinance to regulate new recording spaces.  It's set for a full council vote on Tuesday.

If the ordinance passes, new studios would have to be sound proof and have a special use permit.  They also couldn't open within 300 feet of homes. 

Marco Borggreve

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Pixabay Images

Television and movies have a $6 billion impact on Georgia's economy each year.

Now, some lawmakers are eyeing more arts to bring in money: the for-profit music industry.

State Reps. Spencer Frye, a Democrat, and Matt Dollar, a Republican, are members of a study committee that explored how to support that industry. 

Now, they're ready to propose legislation.  The two representatives spoke with WABE's Amy Kiley.  Dollar began with an overview of the committee.

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Kristian Bush from Sugarland; playwright Janece Shaffer with WABE's Lois Reitzes
Al Such / WABE

Turning over the family business from father to son can be tough when tradition bumps up against a new way of doing things. A new play at the Alliance Theatre begins there … it just so happens that the family business is country music. The show is "Troubadour," and was written by the creative team of playwright Janece Shaffer and songwriter Kristian Bush.

City Lights: Alice Hoffman; 'Troubadour'; And More

Jan 10, 2017
Deborah Feingold

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes"

Evan Jang / WABE

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Georgia Center For The Book

2016 kaleidoscoped into a rough year for many, and that was in part the inspiration for an upcoming reading and lecture series called “Connecting Lines: Building Empathy Through Literature.”

The series includes five lectures at the Georgia Center for the Book at Decatur Library by Professor Pearl McHaney, who teaches southern literature at Georgia State.


On stage, Roman GianArthur is a master of his craft, singing soulfully and shredding on his guitar. His recent EP “OK LADY” features lush reinterpretations of songs by Radiohead and D’Angelo, and on the EP, his talent with his guitar and his production chops shine.

So, it is surprising that he’s only been playing guitar for four years. And he learned from a video game called Rocksmith.

“It’s like Guitar Hero but you just plug your real guitar into it,” said GianArthur. “One of the first songs I played was the three chords from Radiohead’s ‘High and Dry.’”

David Pedde

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Amy Kiley

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Dan Carmody / Studio 7

We should all try to live a little.

This idea is at the center of a world premier play opening at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. It’s called “Greetings Friend Your Kind Assistance Is Required” by Atlanta playwright Topher Payne.

In this case, “living a little” involves spam email, parachuting from an airplane into a foreign country, and somehow, Blockbuster Video.

Actor Brenda Porter plays Rhonda Charles, a retired English teacher who is looking to redefine her life.

Teri Darnell

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Atlanta Photographer Documents Cheshire Bridge Road

Jan 4, 2017
Teri Darnell

Cheshire Bridge Road has been called Atlanta’s red-light district. It is a street that comes to life after hours with strip clubs, drag performance venues, and adult shops.

And, like much of Atlanta, it has completely transformed in recent years. Restaurants and clubs have closed to make way for apartments and mixed-use developments.  

Some residents will be happy to see Cheshire Bridge Road's former reputation go. But one Atlanta photographer has dismantled that reputation by highlighting the area's diverse and generous community.

A plush “Cat in the Hat” toy is displayed next to “What Pet Should I Get?,” the latest book by Dr. Seuss, on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at a bookstore in Concord, N.H.
AP Photo/Holly Ramer

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Pexels / Pixabay

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

City Lights: Avi Avital; Soul Food Cypher; And More

Dec 29, 2016

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Warner Bros.

An upcoming film series at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema delves into the corrupt, the ambiguous and the dark. The series features ten films considered film noir, released from the mid-1940s to 1980s.

“It’s a vision of American society where everyone is corrupt and nobody can be trusted,” said Emory film professor Matthew Bernstein in an interview with Lois Reitzes.

Film noir generally features a male lead, who strays in his morality. He is paired with the femme fatale, the dangerous, conniving and often beautiful woman who leads the hero to his doom.

Michael Krasny Delves Into Jewish Humor In New Book

Dec 27, 2016
Gabbie Watts / WABE

One of Woody Allen’s jokes starts with him showing off his watch.

“This is a gorgeous, gold pocket watch, and I am proud of it,” he says. “My grandfather, on his deathbed, sold me this watch.” Cue audience laughter.

Or, for those who find that joke too crass, a less problematic one-liner comes from Jon Stewart. He says, “My wife is Catholic. I’m Jewish. It’s very interesting; we’re raising the children to be sad.”

Al Such / WABE

Some critics say that “La La Land,” starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, signals the return of the golden-age Broadway-style movie musical. While this trend is yet to be realized, “La La Land” does indeed hearken back to a time when the paychecks of Hollywood lured New York songwriters to sunny southern California.

The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the High Museum, the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Alison Guillory / WABE

After years of symphony lockouts, tight budgets and bad press, it has finally been a good year for Atlanta's dominant arts organization in 2016. The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the High Museum, the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. 

Last year, the ASO opened its season with a performance of Mahler's "Resurrection Symphony," but now, resurrection might be a better theme for the Woodruff Arts Center.