Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories —‘The Little Girl Loves That You’re Here’ Friday, Oct 20 2017 

As part of WFPL’s new Halloween series “Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories” we’ve heard from Randi Skaggs, who talked about a house with an unsettling history and unexplained activity, and from Nancy Davidson, who told us about her late-night shift at a morgue-turned-office building.

Neither had particularly positive experiences being spooked — but this week brings a different kind of ghost story.

Jon Huffman (whom you may recognize as Titus Andronicus from Kentucky Shakespeare’s current production) and Barb Cullen have lived in their Old Louisville house for 16 years.

Right after they moved in and renovations began, they noticed things would go missing for days and reappear in places they didn’t belong; a hammer appearing randomly on the front staircase, for example. Then came the haunting noises with no logical source: a woman sobbing, chains rattling, a chandelier crashing to floor.

The couple enlisted the help of psychics, who informed them that there were several (relatively friendly) spirits living permanently in their home.

Huffman and Cullen introduced me to one of the spirits.

Listen to their story in the audio player above.

In Louisville, Journalist Suki Kim Talks Going Undercover In North Korea Wednesday, Oct 18 2017 

Journalist Suki Kim was born in South Korea, but came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13. Along with visits to South Korea, she also took the occasional trip to North Korea. In the summer of 2011, Kim got a job teaching English at the elite, all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

During her six months at the university, Kim secretly documented her time teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling-class. She wrote about her experience in the New York Times best-seller, “Without You There Is No Us.”

Kim will speak at the 2017 Annual Lecture in Asian Democracy on Wednesday evening at Louisville’s main public library. I spoke with Kim about her time undercover in North Korea. Listen to our conversation in the audio player above.

On how and why she she went undercover:

“I visited North Korea in 2002 as a writer and I went there about five times throughout the decade. And it was just impossible to get to the truth of the place unless I was embedded. I looked for that opportunity for a decade. And in 2011, I found that by going undercover as an ESL teacher and a fundamental evangelical missionary at a university that was built brand-new for the sons of North Korea’s elite who were then aged 19 or 20.”

On her first impression of North Korea:

“I had just never seen anyplace like that. That was so isolated, so under control. Where no one is allowed to do anything and know about anything. I mean, I had students who were computer majors who did not know the existence of the internet. And that’s the elite of that country. So then as a writer and a journalist, you of course have to understand how this system operates and how can we deal with this nation that’s now, of course, a nuclear power. But beyond that, on a human, humane level, what is really going on in that nation to keep people under absolute — a sort of a prison system they way it does.”

On how she was able to document her time at the university while under close surveillance:

“I lived under complete surveillance with minders living downstairs from me 24/7, in a school that was really also guarded by the military 24/7. None of us allowed out, classroom lessons were all recorded and reported on, every conversation was jotted down and recorded. My room was bugged and so I had to…because my cover was as a teacher, I could keep my laptop so I would write at dawn and at night and then erase every trace from the computer and keep them on very tiny USB sticks which I kept on my body at all times.”

The University of Louisville Center for Asian Democracy, the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and the Louisville Free Public Library present Suki Kim, “Undercover in North Korea” for the 2017 Annual Lecture in Asian Democracy.

The lecture takes place Wednesday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the main library (301 York Street). There’s more information here. 

At The Speed Art Museum, ‘Unraveling’ Is About More Than Deconstructing A Confederate Flag Sunday, Oct 15 2017 

Symbols of the Confederacy—from monuments to the flag—have sparked protests and civil unrest for decades. But in recent months, that has intensified.

Here in Louisville, debate has centered on whether to remove a Confederate statue in the affluent Cherokee Triangle neighborhood.

At the same time, a special exhibition at the Speed Art Museum has had its run. “Southern Accent” is a collection that seeks to address the South’s complex racial and cultural history.

As part of the exhibition, textile artist Sonya Clark spent several hours on Saturday pulling apart a Confederate battle flag, thread-by-thread. The performance piece is called “Unraveling.”

Visitors were asked to participate and, as I found out, many had their own reasons for unraveling. You can listen to some of them in the audio player above.

WFPL’s Roxanne Scott contributed to this report. 

Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories — Footprints On the Wall Friday, Oct 13 2017 

For the past few weeks, listeners have been sending us their scary experiences for inclusion in WFPL’s new Halloween series “Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories.”

I’ve heard about after-hours shifts at former morgues, friendly spirits who hang out in pantries and play with jump ropes, and visits to creepy caves.

But today, we’re going to hear from Randi Skaggs. Her story takes place in Bonnieville, Kentucky — about an hour south of Louisville — at a rental house with an unsettling history filled with unexplained phenomena that has haunted her for decades.

Listen to Skaggs’ story in the audio player above.

Meet The Man Preserving The Legacy Of This Rare Louisville Pipe Organ Thursday, Oct 12 2017 

On Friday, the Louisville Memorial Auditorium and the William H. Bauer Foundation will host a fundraiser to repair a rare pipe organ, which was designed in Louisville in the 1940s, and is original to the auditorium.

As part of the fundraiser, the auditorium will show silent 1925 movie “The Phantom of the Opera,” accompanied on pipe organ by Timothy Baker and David Pilkinton.

I spoke with Baker about his long relationship with the instrument and how he learned to play for silent films. You can listen to his story in the audio player above.

Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories — The Door Marked ‘Private’ Friday, Oct 6 2017 

For the past few weeks, listeners have been sending us their scary experiences for inclusion in WFPL’s new Halloween series “Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories.”

The responses have been frightening, funny — and sometimes just downright bizarre. Here’s the first “Spooked” story, told by Nancy Davidson.

Davidson was working in IT for Jefferson County when it merged with the city of Louisville. This meant there were departments—including hers—being combined and a lot of obsolete equipment that needed to be sorted.

To help out, Davidson volunteered to do after-hours inventory at the county’s Barret Avenue offices, which were located in a building that used to be a hospital and morgue.

You can listen to her experience from that night in the audio player above.

‘Titus Andronicus’ Is Back — This Time In A Portland Warehouse Thursday, Oct 5 2017 

In the Shakespearean canon, “Titus Andronicus” sticks out like a sore, bloody thumb.

Written at a time when playwrights and audiences were really into revenge tragedies, Shakespeare decided to make the genre his own by going all-out with the guts and gore. The play eventually developed a reputation as “the poor man’s ‘Lear’” since, in some scholars’ opinions, it lacked the sophistication of “King Lear.”

“Titus Andronicus” is like a good horror flick, which is what drew Kentucky Shakespeare producing artistic director Matt Wallace to the play last fall.

“I started looking and thinking about all the people who go to haunted houses and are looking for themed events around Halloween and October,” Wallace said. “Well, what if we did it, but we combined great literature and made it that exciting?”

The concept was a resounding success — the company staged “Titus” in a Butchertown warehouse and played to sold-out crowds.

Now, Wallace is bringing the same production to a different warehouse in a different neighborhood — the Louisville Visual Art building in Portland.

“As you know, we are always branching out into more parts of the community,” Wallace said. “Last year, we toured 23 parks and 18 libraries — so we’ve performed here, but we’ve never sat down for a month to perform here.”

He said the move is about increasing citywide access to the arts.

“We like the idea of popping up in different areas of the city,” Wallace said. “We love the idea of performing in Portland.”

The production will run until Oct. 31.

You can read more about the plot of “Titus Andronicus” here. Information about tickets can be found here.

Actors Theatre Artistic Director Les Waters To Step Down Wednesday, Oct 4 2017 

Actors Theatre of Louisville announced Wednesday that Artistic Director Les Waters will step down from his position after six years. According to a news release, Waters will depart in the summer of 2018, following the close of the theater’s 2017-18 season, to pursue personal projects.

“It has been a privilege to lead, along with Jennifer Bielstein and lately Kevin E. Morre, one of America’s great artistic institutions,” Waters said in the release.

“I am deeply grateful to the Board, staff, artists, volunteers and audiences for all their support. Together we have had considerable success and we’ve made many great shows during my tenure.” 

Zach DeZon

Les Waters

Waters arrived in Louisville in 2011. He was the fourth artistic director in the company’s history.

He came from California, where he had been director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He was known for taking on new and challenging work, including the Obie Award-winning “In the Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play),” which later went on to Broadway.

During his time in Louisville, Waters brought new energy to the long-running Humana Festival of New American Plays.

His decision to double Actors’ commissioning program resulted in Humana Festival-debuted plays having runs all across the country, such as Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians,” Sarah Ruhl’s “For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday,” and Charles Mee’s “The Glory of the World.”

Programming for Actors Theatre’s 2018-19 season — to be announced in February — will be selected under Water’s direction.

Details about the search for a new artistic director will be announced soon.

Guitarist Douglas Lora On The Various Styles Of Brazilian Music Saturday, Sep 30 2017 

This weekend is the last chance to catch the Clifton Roots, Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Clifton Center. Musicians from Cuba, Sweden and Venezuela are here in Kentucky for the festival, which includes food, music workshops and performances, of course.

One of the musicians is Brazilian guitarist, Douglas Lora. He’ll be performing in a duo with Spanish singer Irene AtienzaI chatted with Lora at U of L right before he gave a master class at the School of Music.

He talked about how varied Brazilian music can be and where his music fits into that space – especially being a dual citizen of the United States and Brazil. Listen to our conversation in the player above. 

On perceptions about Brazilian music:

“When someone from outside thinks about Brazilian music, they think about Bossa Nova actually first. It’s great because the Bossa Nova introduced the Brazilian music to the rest of the world, to the United States, to Europe.”

On where his music fits into Brazil’s diverse landscape:

“It’s hard to say because I have many … I have a classical music background, I play classical music. And I play this style choro. And I used to play rock n’ roll when I was a kid. Now, for five years now, I’ve been playing more boleros from Cuba and Mexico. So it’s hard to say what, where do I fit because I take all this influences and I try to incorporate my own personality. It’s universal.”

On performing in Louisville:

“I’m very fortunate because I’m playing twice in this festival. Now I have the chance to show to the folks in Louisville what we’ve been doing together for five years, which is also a mix of Brazilian music and boleros and Cuban and Spanish.”

We Want to Hear Your Louisville Ghost Stories! Thursday, Sep 28 2017 

Halloween is almost here, which means it’s the season to tell ghost stories — and we want to hear your best.

Have you ever seen or heard a ghost here in Louisville? Is there a house on your block that everyone says is haunted? Or maybe you had a scary experience that turned out to be a little silly (like the time I thought I was being followed by a spirit while touring the Portland Marine Hospital and it turned out to be an attention-hungry squirrel)?

Tell us a bit about it in the form below. If your story is chosen, it will be produced as part of our special series, “Spooked: Louisville Ghost Stories.”

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