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Prologue

Jack Hitt tells the story of a small town production of Peter Pan in which the flying apparatus smacks the actors into the furniture, and Captain Hook's hook flies off his arm and hits an oldwoman in the stomach. By the end of the evening, firemen have arrived and all the normal boundaries between audience and actors have completely dissolved.

Act One: Opening Night

Jack Hitt's Peter Pan story continues. Jack is the author of several books, including Bunch of Amateurs.

Act One: No Island Is An Island

Nauru is a tiny island, population 12,000, a third of the size of Manhattan and far from anywhere: Yet at the center of several of the decade's biggest global events. Contributing editor Jack Hitt tells the untold story of this dot in the middle of the Pacific and its involvement in the bankrupting of the Russian economy, global terrorism, North Korean defectors, the end of the world, and the late 1980s theatrical flop of a London musical based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci called Leonardo, A Portrait of Love.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass surveys various productions of Hamlet being staged around the country: At community colleges in Brooklyn and Honolulu, on a professional stage in Boston, and at a Shakespeare camp for kids in San Francisco—where all the scenes are death scenes.

Act One: Act V, Scene 1

Jack Hitt begins his story about a group of prisoners at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center who are rehearsing and staging a production of Hamlet. The man who plays Hamlet gets in character by recalling times he's wanted to hurt people, like the crime that sent him to prison, in which he shot two people and left them for dead.

Act Two: Act V, Scene 2

Jack Hitt's story about a prison production of Hamlet continues. He discovers that almost all the actors draw on their pasts in one way or another to get into character.

Prologue

Ira talks with producer Blue Chevigny about how a prank caller taught her that when it comes to pursuing happiness, Carole King, the world of independent cinema and the New York City Police Department have a lot more in common than she ever imagined. He also talks with MIT Professor Pauline Maier, author of the book American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence.

Act Three: How To Do The Funky Chicken

The true story of how a multinational chicken company turned a white man into a black man. The man they did it to? An old time Kentucky Colonel who liked to dress up as a Southern plantation owner in string tie and goatee, who happened to be their own spokesman.

Prologue

When Alexa was seven, she started going through her grandfather's books. Her grandfather was a playwright and teacher, and through the books—and especially through his notes in the margins—she entered the world of 1930's American theater.

Act One

More of Alexa Junge and how Moss Hart's autobiography changed her life. She followed his path, learned specific lessons, and had a vision of him that was absolutely clear—until she met his widow.

Act Four: Little Sod Houses For You And Me

Writer Meghan Daum goes to DeSmet, South Dakota, where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and where many of the books she wrote in the Little House on the Prairie series are set. It turns out to be remarkably similar to what Meghan had pictured before she went: The people seem like they are genuinely trying to hold on to the values Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about in her books.
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