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WNYC's 'Radiolab' coming to the stage this week


Radiolab Credit: "Radiolab Live: In the Dark" (Lars Topelmann)

Rife with interruptions, detours and sudden epiphanies, the celebrated WNYC program "Radiolab" fairly crackles with intelligence. The infectious curiosity of co-hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich draws listeners deep into cross-talking inquiries into life's inner workings.

This week, hometown listeners will get the chance to see them live in "Radiolab Live: In the Dark," a staged program that delves into the idea of darkness, both figurative and literal.

The show features contributions from dance company Pilobolus, comedian Demetri Martin, and musician Thao Nguyen.
amNewYork spoke with Abumrad about it.

What was it like adding live visual components to your show?

We got lucky. I’m a giant control freak, but five seconds into our first rehearsal with Pilobolus, the dancers start showing us their techniques and we were all kinda speechless ... Robert and I decided right then and there that the best thing we could do was shut up and follow their lead.

What about when you met Thao and Dimitri?

Same thing happened when we met Thao. She started writing all these killer music cues, which is usually my job. ... The same thing when we met Demetri. We met the right people and then were sensible enough to get out of their way.

Why were you drawn to explore the topics of vision and blindness?

I actually wasn’t looking to do anything on vision and blindness. But then Robert brings in this interview he’d done with these two blind guys who get into a rip-roaring fight about the “right way” to be blind. It was so awesomely politically incorrect. And so fascinating, because their argument really was about truth. If you’re blind, what’s more honest ... to invent pictures in your mind? Or to push those pictures out, because the pictures can never ultimately be true?

Has there ever been an idea that you haven’t been able to tackle in the radio format?

We just did a show on colors where we used a 160-voice choir to re-create the experience of a shrimp seeing the rainbow. I no longer believe in the limitations of radio.

Are you planning new elements for the BAM performance?

Definitely. BAM is my Madison Square Garden. I’m so excited about this show I could die.

If you Go
"Radiolab Live: In the Dark” will be at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m., 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, 718-636-4100. $35

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