Communique with Gina Gambony

Monday - Friday at 8:50 am and 4:44 pm on 91.3 and at noon on 92.7

Gina Gambony hosts Communique, a daily feature exploring arts, events, and ideas in the Cape Fear Region. She interviews artists, actors, dancers, writers and creators of community happenings—all the inspiring movers and shakers who enrich our lives.

Communique airs on 91.3 FM during Morning Edition at 8:50 am, on All Things Considered at 4:44 pm, and on Classical HQR 92.7 at noon.

Please send requests for interviews to classical@whqr.org.

Isabelle Shepherd

Isabelle Shepherd has been the Graduate Fellow in the News Department at WHQR for the past 3 years. She recently graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing...and we are sorry to see her go. She has hosted All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, and she's spent most of her time producing Coastline. Listen to Isabelle talk about her time here at the station above.  

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Alchemical Theatre is Wilmington's newest theater company. It's presenting Much Ado About Nothing under the direction of founder Christopher Marino (who also plays villain Don John in the show). The show is set in the post-Civil War South. Leonato is played by Fred Grandy ("Gopher" from the Love Boat), who also came to town for Marino's production of Measure for Measure last year.

Opera Wilmington

This summer, Opera Wilmington presents Carmen, the masterpiece by Georges Bizet. It's a tragedy, but a lively and often comic one, with the gypsy Carmen at the center. Australian musicologist Sally Macarthur says Carmen has been called every name in the book, from a seductress to a victim-some say she's a feminist. Opera Wilmington's Artistic Director Nancy King goes with the latter.

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Downtown Wilmington is being adorned with new outdoor art through Pedestrian Art Public Sculpture program. A free public reception is at Expo 216 on Front Street on Sunday, July 16. The artists will be there, along with sponsors from the Arts Council of Wilmington, the Dreams Center, Artworks, City of Wilmington, and more. Guests have the opportunity to take a trolley ride with the artists to see the 9 new installations-and some new locations downtown. Shuttle tours are at 1:00pm, 2:45, and 4:00, leaving from Expo 216. The reception itself begins at 2:00pm.

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Museum of Natural Sciences in Whiteville is having a concert Saturday, July 15 called The Color of Harmony featuring blues/slide guitarist Lakota John and musician/storyteller Reggie Harris. I spoke to Meredith Morgan from the museum about this event-and about the museum; listen above and see the transcript below. Below the transcript, find more information about exhibits, activities, and events at the Museum. 

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There will be a summer storm inside Thalian Hall on Thursday. King Lear will be egging it on. There will be 4 opportunities to experience 19th century theatrical machinations that can only be found in 2 places: Bristol, England and Wilmington, North Carolina.

Jim Downey

Glass artist Jim Downey is holding an Open House this Saturday, July 15 at his studio at 2925 Boundary Street in Wilmington, 10:00am-4:00pm. It's summertime, so Jim is creating sea turtles (come fall, he'll be in Christmas mode). A portion of his profits for this month's Open House will benefit Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project, and the turtles he's making reflect an unusual happening on the shores of Pleasure Island: 2 Green Sea Turtle nests. Listen to my conversation above and see an extended transcript and photos below. 

Joyce Fernando

Opera House Theatre Company brings the musical Camelot to the Thalian Hall stage this month. This tale has staying power-who knows how long this legend of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot and the rest has been told? We know the musical is 67 years old...but don't expect your grandmother's Camelot. Director Shane Fernando talks about crafting this production for 21st century audiences, and why the tale is as relevant as ever. Listen above and see an extended transcript (and photos) below. 

Thalian Association

The Thalian Association and Friends of the Battleship have joined forces to present the classic play, Mr. Roberts. The show, which is set almost entirely on a ship in World War II, is staged by director Chandler Davis on the fantail of the Battleship North Carolina. The show runs Thursdays through Sundays through July 23; showtime is 8:00 for all performances. Tickets are available online and at the Battleship. Listen to Chandler Davis and Thalian Association Executive Director Susan Habas talk about the show above and see the transcript below. 

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UNCW’s Office of the Arts presents a summertime series of performances for all ages again this year: Seahawk FAM. A variety of performers take the stage Thursday mornings through the end of July. Director of UNCW’s Office of the Arts, Kristin Brogdon, developed this program with Operations Manager Jeremy Summers last year; it’s already grown from 5 to 6 performances. When I visited Kenan, Karola Luttringhaus was working on her piece. The stage was covered with over 4000 plastic bottles-and more are on the way. Listen to Karola and Kristin above and see the schedule below.

Dreams of Wilmington

Dreams of Wilmington is celebrating a big anniversary this year: 20 years of youth development through art. Executive Director Matt Carvin stopped by to talk about the Festival of Dreams, planned for September, and the 20th Anniversary fundraiser. The fundraiser is called 20/20: supporters of the program are asked to donate 1 dollar for every year Dreams has provided free programming to underserved youth. That $20 (or more) will be doubled by a donor- up to $100,000. Listen to Matt talk about the program above and see the transcript below.

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Hip-hop artist Fuzz Jackson has been making music in Wilmington for 20 years. He just put out an album with Sam Brown called Leg Sweep Specialist. Listen to our short interview above and a longer interview below + links to his music. We talked about what hip-hop means to Fuzz, how hip-hop has changed, why you should give hip-hop a chance, and Gina argues that she is, indeed, hip (and Fuzz is kind enough to let that slide). Also discover the origin of the name, Leg Sweep Specialist.

Shaun Mitchell

Poet Shaun Mitchell joined us in the studio to (generously) share some of his poetry from his Poetry & Pantylines series. Listen above, and see an extended transcript below.   

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Dick: You know, what what the artist sees in that piece and what the viewer sees in the trees or hardly ever the same thing. 

 Gina: That's artist Dick Roberts making a profound statement that we'll revisit in a couple of minutes. Dick Roberts' exhibit Nevermore... is hanging in WHQR's MC Erny gallery. Tonight (Friday, June 23) is the closing reception. The exhibit will hang through July 14th. Dick Roberts creates bold abstracts with layers of color and figures that emerge unexpectedly.

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Cape Fear Literacy Council (CFLC) holds its annual Literary Luncheon on Wednesday, June 28 at Pine Valley United Methodist Church, 11:30am-1:00pm. Listen above to hear from Executive Director Yasmin Tomkinson about why CFLC needs support more than ever this year; you'll also hear from the keynote speaker, Dr. Elliot Engel, about his mini-lecture, Our Slippery Mother Tongue, a Light History of English. See an extended transcript of my conversation with Dr. Engel below. 

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Two music-making orgs are joining together for a patriotic concert: The Sea Notes Choral Society and Brunswick Concert Band. There are two opportunities to see and hear this free concert, called Sunrise Over America: Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25, 3:00pm at Odell Williamson Auditorium.  Outgoing Sea Notes President Jane Skubic and choir Director Larry Reinhart spoke with us about the show; listen above or see the transcript below. 

Cape Fear Shakespeare celebrates 25 years performing at Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre. The group presents the same two plays that were performed in the first season: A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. We spoke with Associate Producer Caylan McKay and Director Nick Reed; listen above and read an extended transcript below. 

Patricia Roseman

You may have read her newspaper column or one of her books. You may have seen one of the plays based on her work adapted by Zach Hanner. But the new play onstage at Theatre Now connected to Celia Rivenbark is different. First, it was written as a play by Celia herself (not adapted). Second, it's about her-her life, her family, her experiences. Celia is even one of the characters in the play. Director Beth Swindell and actress Erin Hunter say it's as funny as everything else Celia does--enriched with a dash of poignancy. The show, Celia: Aging Like a Fine Box of Wine, is onstage at Theatre Now Friday and Saturday nights through July 22. Listen above to hear Beth and Erin talk about the show, and see the themed dinner options below.

Brunswick Little Theatre

Brunswick Little Theatre in Southport presents Smokey Joe's Cafe, the musical revue featuring classic tunes from the mid 20th century. Director Cal Chiang joined us to talk about the show; hear his interview above or see the transcript below. Online tickets for the show are sold out, but there may be some tickets floating around-Sugar Confections in Shallotte and Ricky Evans Art Gallery in Southport may still have some. The show runs through June 25, with Thursday-Saturday performances at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3:00pm. 

Janette Hopper

Janette Hopper's exhibit Natural Milieu, An Altered Point of View is on display at Wilma Daniels Gallery at CFCC. It is a mixed media exhibit, featuring 2-D and 3-D pieces, sound, and video, and the focus is the natural world. While Janette says her work often depicts nature in all its glory, this exhibit reveals troubles in the natural world. Janette is moderating a panel discussion connected to the exhibit called Perspectives on Overpopulation, Loss of Biodiversity and Stewardship on Wednesday, June 14 at Union Station, 4:00pm-6:00pm. The goal is to identify the greatest environmental concerns of our time and consider solutions. 

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In 1998, a 21-year-old gay man named Matthew Shepard was beaten and tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. Matthew died from head injuries after spending 6 days in a coma. The murder brought national attention to hate crime legislation. It also received attention from the Tectonic Theatre company. The group traveled to Wyoming and created the documentary theatre piece called The Laramie Project. The show runs Thursdays-Sundays at Cape Fear Playhouse through June 25. 

Opera House Theatre Company


Opera House Theatre Company presents Jesus Christ Superstar, the "rock opera" from 1970. Director Suellen Yates and actor Jason Aycock, playing the title role, joined us in the studio. The show is onstage at Thalian Hall through June 25: June 7-11, 16-18, and 23-25. Performances are at 8:00pm except Sundays, which are at 3:00pm. Listen to Suellen and Jason discuss the show above; see a transcript below.

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Theatre For All is Wilmington's theatre company for people with disabilities. The troupe presents its spring show, The Magic Moment, in one final performance tonight, June 7, at Theatre Now. Showtime is 7:00pm. One of the actors, Joseph Sisk, talked about the group and the show; listen above. See an extended transcript below. 

For the final episode in our poetry binge on Communique, we have 3 poems from 3 authors: Emily Louise Smith, publisher at Lookout Books and UNC Wilmington professor; Oskar Gambony-Steding, Creative Writing student and tutor at UNC Asheville; and Aurora Shimshak, MFA student at UNC Wilmington and Managing Editor at Ecotone. Listen to these poets read their works above; see the text (plus 2 extras) below.

Please note that poems lose their formats in this story.

Academy of American Poets

Barbara McKenzie says everyone has a magical NPR moment-when you hear something on NPR that just knocks you off your feet and makes a huge impact on your mind, your heart, even your life. That moment for Barbara came when she heard poet Samuel Menashe on NPR's Weekend Edition. He was being interviewed because he received the Poetry Foundation's Neglected Masters Award. This sent Barbara, a concert pianist, into the world of composing. She composed a song cycle to bring sound to 11 of Menashe's poems. She hadn't composed before-and she hasn't composed since. Hear a short interview with Barbara above and a longer one below, along with her compositions. 

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Continuing our poetry focus this week: we invited recent MFA in Creative Writing graduate Ashleigh Bryant Phillips in to talk about her work in poetry. Ashleigh grew up in rural Northampton County on the North Carolina/Virginia border; she is heavily influenced by her roots there-simultaneously heavy and ephemeral as that way of life fades away. Listen above to hear Ashleigh talk about the family ties and hear her read her poem, "Hard Biscuits." See three of Ashleigh's poems below.

Port City Music Festival

The first notes for the 9th Annual Port City Music Festival will ring out on Sunday, June 4, kicking off more than 7 performances over 8 days-over 30 pieces of music. Tickets are not needed for the performances-except Kenan Chapel at Landfall because of space-and all performances are free. The Kenan Chapel at Landfall tickets are available at the Northeast Library (they go fast). Here is the basic performance schedule; see the full schedule, including pieces and performers, here

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Alan Ginsberg said that poetry is “the one place where people can speak their original human mind.” As a late spring indulgence, the next few Communique stories will listen to that original mind, hearing from poets (and a musician inspired by a poet). Our first guest is Anna Lena Phillips Bell; she just published her debut collection of poetry, Ornament, the recipient of the Vasser Miller prize in poetry.

Wilmington Art Association

Wilmington Art Association is sponsoring the Silver Arts Exhibit and competition again. Over 400 pieces of work are in the exhibit and most are for sale. The exhibit is only open for 3 days at The Art Works: Friday, May 26, 10:00am-9:00pm; Saturday, May 27, 10:00am-4:00pm; Sunday, May 28, Noon-4:00pm. Listen to Susan Buteau from the Wilmington Art Association talk about the exhibit above and see pictures below.

Wilmington Boys Choir

The Wilmington Boys Choir is performing one more time before summer, on Saturday, June 3 at Winter Park Presbyterian Church at 7:00pm. The concert is free and followed by a reception. Listen to Director Ronnie Wise talk about how the Choir was reformed after a 15+ year hiatus and about the concert; read a transcript below. 

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