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Trump at Studio 54
Frances Stonor-Saunders explores how the young Donald Trump stormed into Manhattan from the outer boroughs in the late 1970s and headed straight for New York's most outrageous nightclub. He didn't dance, didn't drink, and didn't take drugs. So what was he doing in the cocaine-fuelled hothouse of the Disco revolution? And what was the link to Roy Cohn, infamous attack dog of the McCarthy era, go-to Attorney for the Mob and the man Trump was happy to call his mentor? Producer: Fiona Leach Research: Serena Tarling.
The Honky Tonk Nun
Kate Molleson travels to Jerusalem to meet a legend of Ethiopian music, the piano-playing nun, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. Born in 1923 to a noble Ethiopian family, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou was celebrated as a young musician in Addis Ababa - even performing for the Emperor Haile Selassie. But when she was mysteriously refused permission to take up a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London, her life changed forever, and she abandoned music. For 10 years she lived on the holy mountain of Guishen, barefoot, in solitary prayer and meditation, until the monastery had to close and Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam headed home to Addis Ababa. There, she slowly returned to the piano keyboard, composing languorous waltzes, infected with the spirit of ancient Ethiopian music and with a free-wheeling sense of time. In 1996, as her music became the 21st release in the now famous Ethiopiques series of records, she came to international attention. By this time she had fled the communist regime in Ethiopia and moved to Jerusalem to work for the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchy, where she now lives in a small cell, surrounded by her religious paintings, photographs of her family and of Emperor Haile Selassie propped up on top of her piano. In recent years she has been moved to publish her work, editing a lifetime of manuscripts with the help of the Israeli musician and composer Maya Dunietz, and has set up a foundation in her name to help children to acquire instruments and music education. A long time fan of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam's music, journalist Kate Molleson talks with the musician turned nun who, now in her 90s, has led a remarkable life and is still driven to compose her unique music. Produced by Peter Meanwell A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.
The Half: A Countdown to Performance
The Half - called over the tannoy backstage at the theatre - is the beginning of the countdown to facing an audience. Regardless of the highs and lows of daily life, performers have to harness themselves, step into the spotlight and use pressure to their advantage. The 30-minute call is when it all becomes a bit more serious - there's no escaping what lies ahead. We hear the half-hour count down over the loudspeaker system as arts broadcaster and journalist Fiona Lindsay takes us behind the scenes in a West End theatre and a hospital operating theatre and explores how that crucial half hour before the curtain goes up plays out for performers of all kinds. We go backstage at Matilda the Musical to follow actor Craige Els as he transforms into the terrifying Miss Trunchbull. At the Sheffield Children's Hospital, Paediatric surgeon Ross Fisher lets us in on the half hour before he performs an operation on a child. Comedian Mae Martin sizes up the audience as she waits stage-side to perform stand up in London's East End. World champion snooker player Steve Davis remembers the rituals that played out in his changing room in the half hour before he performed at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. Rabbi Miriam Berger describes how she prepares to lead a funeral service. Performance psychologist Amanda Owens takes us through the techniques she teaches to top sports people. Are there parallels that can be drawn between these very different kinds of performers? Fiona uncovers the psychological and physical routines our performers have in common, as well as the highly idiosyncratic rituals that individuals come to rely on. Produced by Peggy Sutton and Chris Elcombe A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
A Woman Half in Shadow
Zora Neale Hurston. You might not recognise her name. She was an African American novelist and folklorist, a queen of the Harlem Renaissance and a contemporary of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. But when she died in 1960 she was living on welfare and was buried in an unmarked grave. Her name was even misspelt on her death certificate. Scotland's National poet Jackie Kay tells the story of how Zora became part of America's literary canon. Alice Walker wrote in her collection of essays 'In Search of Our Mother's Gardens': "We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone." And that's what Alice did: travelling to Florida in search of Zora's grave where she laid down a gravestone declaring Zora "A Genius of the South". That was in 1973. Now Zora is claimed by many of America's leading novelists including Maya Angelou, Zadie Smith and Toni Morrison, as their literary foremother. Eighty years since the publication of her greatest work 'Their Eyes Were Watching God', Jackie Kay tells Zora's story. Interviews include author Alice Walker, the poet Sonia Sanchez, The Guardian's Editor at Large Gary Younge and Zora's biographer Valerie Boyd. Readings by Solange Knowles. Photo: Carl Van Vechten Producer: Caitlin Smith.
Do Pass Go
Board games are back. Samira Ahmed sets out to uncover the modern allure of an analogue table top game in an increasingly digital world. When a computer finally beat the world's best player of Go, we had a problem. If even the most complex game can be reduced to a mathematical procedure, are games as the embodiment of human desires and abilities doomed? Not a chance. Board games are booming, and self-confessed board-game geek Samira Ahmed is determined to find out why. Along the way, she meets the designers, players and everyday obsessives who throng in their thousands to shows like Essen's famous Spiel festival. She discovers how games mirror the preoccupations of our age and how they allow us to vent our instinctive desire for combat. But could the real answer to our gaming addiction lie elsewhere? As it turns out, old-fashioned gaming seems to create a safe space like no other, where we can explore sides of our identities forbidden in real life. Samira talks to the man who rediscovered the rules of one of mankind's oldest games. A Leaping Wing production for BBC Radio 4.