Podcasts have been a new thing for me in 2017, not exactly a new years resolution, but something that just came into my life in January this year. It’s a very mindful thing for me – more so than I realised it would be. You have to concentrate on it more than listening to music or watching Netflix or you lose track of what they are on about. Walking up to uni in the morning, running at the gym, or washing up after dinner, listening to a podcast stops me mithering so much about everything and makes me feel a bit more present.
I started off listening to The West Wing Weekly: a podcast rewatch of the Aaron Sorkin series The West Wing where the hosts discuss one episode a week with various guests involved in the creation of the show. The West Wing is one of my favourite series ever and if you haven’t seen it you really need to, so when I heard about the podcast I had to get into listening to it. It’s fantastic to hear from people involved about how they made the programme, from directors and actors to cameramen and expert advisors, as well as the politics of the show in today’s climate. So after awhile (once I had caught up and had to wait a whole week for my next episode) I branched out and found myself a nice little collection of subscriptions. Along the same lines as The West Wing Weekly, The Gilmore Guys and Best of Friends have joined the ranks, walking through other excellent television series Gilmore Girls and Friends. But I have also found a couple of lovely theatre related podcasts, which was really the reason for writing this post.
(Yes, Daddy, I know theatre is spelt wrong there but as the podcast is american I thought I would honour that!) Each episode of the Theater People podcast features an interview with someone working in the theatre community in New York, with interviewer Patrick Hinds. The conversation will usually begin with whatever project is current for the artist and then jump back to the beginning of their career. Patrick has interviewed Lin Manuel-Miranda, Laura Osnes, LaChanze, Laura Benanti, Elaine Paige etc etc etc. I love hearing about everyone’s different pathway to the theatre and the roles they are taking on now, and Patrick’s interviewing style makes it all feel very relaxed like you really hear what these people think. Sometimes the interviews are conducted in dressing rooms in theatres on Broadway and we might hear snippets of sound checks coming over the monitor or people’s food orders arriving at stage door – it makes it all seem very real. Definitely worth a listen for those who love a bit of music theatre – I’ve discovered several new favourite soundtracks through this podcast recently!
Patrick Hinds is back again in this podcast merging several interviews together to tell the story of how a new Broadway musical ‘goes from just an idea to reality’. Series one of Broadway Backstory has now finished but you can always go back and binge listen to it and wait excitedly with me for series 2. Episodes have included the stories of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’, ‘In the Heights’ and ‘The Secret Garden’ (all some of my faves). The collection has been chosen brilliantly so that each tells a different journey from people with different backgrounds, most ending up at the Tony Awards. Even if you haven’t seen or heard the musical before, it’s more about the people who were involved and how they felt through their journey. Another cracker to delve into.
Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast
In each episode of the Royal Court Playwright’s podcast, Simon Stephens (playwright behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) has a conversation with another successful British playwright who has at some point featured at the Royal Court. I am not a playwright, nor am I ever likely to be, but these conversations are about more than just the writing process – which is of course interesting in itself. Again, these are stories of journeys from humble beginnings, but also about managing workload when you are creative and work for yourself; about handing off your creation to let someone else put their stamp on it; and beyond the personal, it’s often a commentary about the state of British theatre. I am not yet caught up on all the episodes, but so far I have listened to interviews with David Hare (who apparently now hates Verbatim theatre!), Dennis Kelly and Rachel De-Lahay, all of whom I have seen/read works by and very much enjoyed. Another fantastic insight into the world of creativity.
So those are my current podcast favourites bringing me a little bit of mindfulness each day. I really would recommend giving it a try – you can give yourself an hour of focused thought whilst getting on with other things in your busy life.