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The Symbols of Bliss
Charles Bliss was a remarkable utopian visionary, whose experiences as a young witness to the pogroms and then Dachau and Buchenwald made him determined to put all his effort into finding a means of bringing about peace between nations. His big inspiration was his belief that conflict arose when people misunderstood each other, or misinterpreted the other's language. A new visual language based on ideograms would, he felt, prevent such misunderstanding - and he spent years both perfecting and then trying to sell his new system, which he named Semantography and which has become commonly known as Blissymbolics. As Michael Symmons Roberts will explain, Bliss and his wife Claire sent thousands of letters to academics and librarians across the world without success, but then decades later his language was taken up in an entirely unexpected way - as a means of communicating with children with cerebral palsy. Sadly this apparent turn of good fortune did not lead to a happy ending, and Bliss died an apparently frustrated and lonely man. Nonetheless, as Michael will explain, he was a great utopian visionary whose determined effort to change the world single-handedly might not have finally paid off, but he left a great legacy behind in his linguistic achievement and in the thousands whom he helped to communicate with the world. Michael meets one of those people, Peter Zein, as well as Shirley McNaughton, the nurse who was one of the key figures in applying Blissymbolics to special needs education, and Brian Stride, a personal friend and admirer of Bliss. Presenter: Michael Symmons Roberts Producer: Geoff Bird Exec Producer: Jo Meek A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4.
A Split in the Sisterhood
Anita Anand embarks on a highly personal exploration of an angry dispute which is fracturing the feminist movement. The daughter of Indian parents, Anita was disconcerted to find herself drawn into the controversy in which black feminists were accusing white middle-class women of "whitewashing" the feminist movement, insisting they have no right to comment on issues affecting poor black women. She became touched by the dispute after the premier of the Hollywood film Suffragette when she refused calls by black feminists to criticise the movie. They were angry that the Indian suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, whose biography Anita had written, was not depicted. "I was urged to attack the film for being racist and to condemn suffragettes for hating women of colour," says Anita. Though disappointed at Sophia's absence from the film, she did not feel angry. She found the whole situation confusing. She had always believed in a universal sisterhood transcending colour. In this documentary, Anita sets out to explore the issues, re-evaluating her own beliefs and convictions by talking to feminists with a range of opinions - including US-based journalist Rafia Zakaria, US and Egypt based Mona Eltahawyand and blogger Feminista Jones, who challenge the right of white women to comment on issues affecting poor black women. In Britain, she talks to young black feminists like 23 year old Liv Little, the founder of gal-dem - an online and print magazine run by and for women of colour - and to white feminists such as Rachel Holmes and comedian Kate Smurthwaite, as well as Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of the suffragette leader. Anita asks if women are stronger as a united force, or divided into groups focused on specific issues. An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.
Music to Strip To
How is modern music helping striptease to adapt its traditional image? Some of the biggest stars and producers of 21st century burlesque reveal what makes a great striptease soundtrack. Sixty years ago it was all sassy, jazzy show tunes. Today it can be techno, post-punk, hip hop, spoken word - even sound effects. So what's happened to the soundtrack - and the image - of striptease? We hear what works best, and what should be avoided. And we explore how the sound of contemporary and neo-burlesque can support its social, cultural and political power. Starring: Julie Atlas Muz (former crown holder, Miss Exotic World and Miss Coney Island) Darlinda Just Darlinda (multiple winner, Golden Pastie Awards) Tigger! (The Original King of Boylesque - The Godfather of Neo-Burlesque) Nasty Canasta (The Girl with the 44DD Brain) Luna TikTok (The Tickin' Time Bombshell) Aurora Galore (finalist, Miss Exotic World) Also featuring: Zoe Ziegfeld, Fancy Feast, Lux DeLioux, DJ Scott Ewalt, DJ Momotaro Producer: Steve Urquhart A White Stiletto production for BBC Radio 4 Playlist: Buddy Morrow - Night Train Buddy Guy - What Kind Of Woman Is This Nero's Day At Disneyland - No Money Down Low Monthly Payments Big Spender (instrumental) - from the musical Sweet Charity Reverend Horton Heat - D for Dangerous Aqua - Barbie Girl Blood Sweat and Tears - You've Made Me So Very Happy Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky KRS One - Sound of Da Police Sam Taylor - Harlem Nocturne Louis Armstrong - St Louis Blues Sounds of various car alarms Garbage - Number One Crush Infected Mushroom - Saeed Perez Prado - Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.
Speaking with Smaller Tongues
Penzance-born Rory McGrath writes and performs a Cornish song at the SUNS International Festival - a multilingual alternative to the Eurovision song contest, where English is banned. Rory talks with fellow performers, and to academics, about how the internet and the spread of English as a lingua franca is threatening to smother small languages. The United Nations predicts that 90% of Europe's 200 minority languages will have ceased to exist by the end of the 21st century. A Terrier production for BBC Radio 4.
Yangon Renaissance: Punks, Poets and Painters
After decades suppressed by Myanmar's military regime, we go inside Yangon's booming counter-cultural art scene to reveal the city as seen through the eyes of the young artists on the frontline of change. Until censorship was lifted in 2012, dissident artists, musicians and poets lived with the threat of jail for speaking out against the military regime that had gripped Myanmar - or Burma - since 1962 and turned it into a police state. Now, from modern art to punk rock and poetry, a new vibrant youth culture is flourishing. It's something that was inconceivable only five years ago, when there was no internet, no mobile phones, and no freedom of expression. Recorded on location in the country's biggest city, we meet the emerging artists and performers breaking through and forging a new Myanmar. It's a critical juncture in Myanmar's history, but the rules are still unclear. How open can the artists be? Work by former political prisoners is now on show, and even the country's former spymaster has opened an art gallery. But we hear from a young poet who was imprisoned for six months for a six-line poem deemed to insult the former president and released in 2016. Under Aung San Suu Kyi's government, prosecutions under the notorious 66D defamation clause, seen by critics as a weapon to silence anyone speaking out against the state, have risen sharply. Old habits of self-censorship can be hard to break. But are young artists optimistic about their country's future? You bet they are. Produced by Eve Streeter A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4.