In the Night Kitchen with One Impossibly Tasty Interview Before Breakfast

h1 February 27th, 2007 by jules

Andrea and Mark, the nice folks over at Just One More Book!! (JOMB), don’t need little ‘ol me to tell you to go listen to their great podcasts; for one, School Library Journal called them out on their greatness in January of this year. And, as I’ve admitted with a red face to Andrea before, I am sometimes podcast-challenged and don’t always get to their reviews and interviews (which they conduct over their morning coffee ritual, as they put it, and in their favorite coffee house), even the ones I really want to hear. But they always do things up ever-so nicely and professionally over there at their spot in cyber-space.

And, while we normally tend to focus on book reviews and Poetry Fridays (and, well, now interviews, too, I suppose) here at 7-Imp, let me steer you in the direction of JOMB’s post from yesterday in which they talk to Arthur Yorinks. Yes, the Arthur Yorinks, who for “thirty-five years has written and directed for opera, theater, dance, and film and is the author of over two dozen acclaimed and award-winning books for children, including the Caldecott Medal winner, Hey, Al“* — and, most recently, co-creator of Mommy? (and Andrea is always so dang humble about these kickin’ interviews they manage to snag all on their own — in her words, it’s “just me and Mark, our coffee and our love of children’s books”).

Now, I confess to having a HUGE bias towards the authors and author/illustrators of what was clearly (okay, arguably) The Golden Age of Children’s Literature — the time in which Yorinks met Sendak and Sendak came into his brilliance and shared it with the world and Ursula was around and all that jazz. But, even if you do not share my enthusiasm for that, you might find their interview with Mr. Yorinks interesting. Just look at a few of the many topics he talks to Mark about in the interview:

  • the current state of affairs (which Yorinks finds lamentable) of children’s book publishing, what with diminished funding for libraries and the subsequent dwindling influence librarians have today (compared to The Older Days and versus today’s world of commercialism and phenomena such as celebrity authors). Now, I hate to get all “nostalgia-isn’t-what-it-used-to-be” on ya (a wonderful lyric from a Sam Philllips song), but he makes some great points;
  • how what he calls the “grassroots” work of the online world of the kidlitosphere can perhaps re-balance some of that power (actually, he references only the good work of Just One More Book!!, but allow me to extrapolate here);
  • the art of reading aloud to children and how you can perhaps trust the rhythm of the text as opposed to reading it with great theatrics;
  • and, best of all, the power of the imaginative world of children and good books that honor that.

I also have a passionate love for the theatre, and so does Eisha, if I may boldly speak on her behalf. And Yorinks, as you probably well know, founded The Night Kitchen Theater with Sendak, now defunct (the theater, not Sendak — Sendak is alive and well and appropriately annoyed, as indicated recently by Roger). As a lover of a good, high-quality, well-done children’s theatre production as well as a co-founder of a children’s theatre myself, I always love reading about The Night Kitchen Theater and Yorinks’ and Sendak’s work on it in the days of yore. In yesterday’s interview at JOMB, Yorinks discusses the reasons for which the theater failed, largely having to do with their fatigue over the attitude towards children’s theater in this country — similar to the unfortunate, condescending attitude the average person on the street has towards “kiddy lit.” (Been there. Done that. It’s very difficult to find a well-written children’s play — certainly, a stage adaptation of a piece of literature — that has respect for children) . . .

However, DID YOU KNOW (yes, I’m yelling this; I’m excited) that Yorinks has founded The Night Kitchen Radio Theater? Maybe the rest of the world already knows this, but I have Andrea and Mark to thank for having this happy, joyous bit of news now. Yorinks discusses it in wonderful detail in their interview. “IT’S RADIO DRAMA, LIVE THEATER, AND CHILDREN’S LITERATURE ROLLED INTO ONE!” says the site (also screaming), so I think I might just have a heart attack here from the glory of it all: “Each and every month, a new original radio play based on a piece of children’s literature is presented and recorded live in front of an audience at the Kennedy Center’s new Family Theater,” the site further states. They’re then broadcast at XM Satellite Radio to which, unfortunately, I do not subscribe. However, Yorinks stated in JOMB’s interview that the productions can also be accessed at the Kennedy Center’s site. The Night Kitchen site also states:

The entire first season will be released on CD by Listening Library . . . the country’s oldest spoken audio publisher. The CDs include a bonus segment: Listen Up! by Leonard Marcus {the radio theater’s Literary Director} with interviews and background material on each radio play. The first two shows, Emperor’s New Clothes and Pinocchio will be released this fall.

I found the performances archived here at The Kennedy Center Site. Thank you, Arthur Yorinks, for continuing this work. Thank you THANK YOU, Andrea and Mark, for another informative interview. Andrea and Mark remain humble about snagging Yorinks for an interview, but I’ll scream it on the rooftops for them. Go listen to a brilliant man talk about his brilliant work!

* {lifted from his bio at The Kennedy Center site}

{Oh, and it probably goes without saying that we really want to interview Andrea and Mark in our blogger interview series, too. We hope they’ll be willing one day soon} . . .

5 comments to “In the Night Kitchen with One Impossibly Tasty Interview Before Breakfast”

  1. Wow, Jules!

    Thank you so much for all your kind words and enthusiasm!!!


  2. Theatre RULES. Thank you for spelling it “re.”

    Hey, Al! = Good times.

  3. wait, wait, wait, Jules. You founded a children’s theater? You have to tell more. You can’t just drop that and gloss over it!

  4. Susan, it is a children’s theatre for the deaf in Knoxville, Tennessee. American Sign Language and spoken English on stage simultaneously. Deaf actors, hearing actors who sign, shadow interpreters on stage, hearing actors who know nothing about ASL and have interpreters with them, etc. etc. I didn’t link to the site in this review, ’cause the site is terribly, horribly, horrifically outdated (and I created it, so I’m not knockin’ anyone but myself). It was the first site I ever, ever created by hand (HTML, that is — no WYSIWYG program), and, well, that’s obvious. It really needs to be over-hauled altogether, and needless to say it’s a bit outdated, too, in spots. I’m about to just hand it over to someone else.

    I used to be Artistic Director. The co. is still goin’ in Knoxville — does public and school performances. But I can only say I’m Co-Founder now, since I live 200ish miles away and can no longer contribute (but that’s also okay with me, ’cause it was seriously taking time away from my family. To do something like that was always a dream for me that I never thought possible, ’cause I love me some ASL and theatre, but I don’t miss all the work that went into it. I really wanted to give of myself and of my time, but there comes a point when you have to say, enough. I don’t see my husband enough).

    I co-founded it with two other sign language interpreters, and we truly and honestly created the co. to bring more theatre to deaf children in East TN. Not to sound all “aw those poor death kids” on you, which is something we, unfortunately, heard entirely too much (yes, lots of people who don’t have any sense will say “death” people). But the deaf children at the School for the Deaf there were getting very little accessible theatre, and shoot, I’d die without theatre, so we created the co. to bring more theatre to them and always did stage adaptations of children’s lit stories.

    I’m done rambling now. The site is here, but remember that I warned you it’s terribly outdated and hard on the eyes and really just fugly.

    Oh God, this is so long. Sorry. I just love to talk chidren’s theatre (and give me a staged adaptation of a children’s story, and I’m even happier). Susan, you probably already know this with your Nashville connections, but the Nashville Children’s Theatre does FABULOUS stuff and is the oldest children’s theatre company in America. I once saw them bring Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse to life on stage, and it was perfection.

  5. Cool. And the Nashville Children’s Theatre sounds grand.

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