Performer Interviews, Q & A, and performance excerpts
with Marsh and MarshStream founder Stephanie Weisman
Thursday, February 18 at 7:30pm
After the election of 2016, NPR reporter Laura Sydell, like many journalists, was in a state of shock–the world of outrageous conspiracy theories and alternative facts had become frighteningly real. In 2020, Laura wrote a solo theater piece, Red Meat for the Alt. Right, about the truth that exists beside the facts. Inspired by a story she reported for NPR’s All Things Considered, Red Meat for the Alt. Right journeys into the world where disinformation is created and conspiracy theories are fed.
Laura Sydell reported on the impact of the technology revolution on society and culture and everyday life for nearly two decades for NPR’s major news magazines “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” She’s also contributed to “This American Life and “Planet Money.” She is still trying to make sense of what she saw at the Revolution.
Red Meat for The Alt Right is based on an actual experience investigating the proliferation of fake news. It is a work of art not a work of journalism. That’s a warning that many of the facts are true but not all of them. The piece is an attempt to get at some of the contradictory emotional truths that live right next to the facts. It is part of an ongoing project to create a one woman show about my experiences reporting on the transformation of human society by computers – an experiment in which most of us are guinea pigs.
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About the Guest
Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.
Sydell’s work focuses on the ways in which technology is transforming our culture and how we live. For example, she reported on robotic orchestras and independent musicians who find the Internet is a better friend than a record label as well as ways technology is changing human relationships.
Sydell has traveled through India and China to look at the impact of technology on developing nations. In China, she reported how American television programs like Lost broke past China’s censors and found a devoted following among the emerging Chinese middle class. She found in India that cell phones are the computer of the masses.
Sydell teamed up with Alex Bloomberg of NPR’s Planet Money team and reported on the impact of patent trolls on business and innovations particular to the tech world. The results were a series of pieces that appeared on This American Life and All Things Considered. The hour long program on This American Life “When Patents Attack! – Part 1,”was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and accolades from Investigative Reporters and Editors. A transcript of the entire show was included in The Best Business Writing of 2011 published by Columbia University Press.
Before joining NPR in 2003, Sydell served as a senior technology reporter for American Public Media’s Marketplace, where her reporting focused on the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.
Sydell is a proud native of New Jersey and prior to making a pilgrimage to California and taking up yoga she worked as a reporter for NPR Member Station WNYC in New York. Her reporting on race relations, city politics, and arts was honored with numerous awards from organizations such as The Newswomen’s Club of New York, The New York Press Club, and The Society of Professional Journalists.
American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored Sydell for her long-form radio documentary work focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists.
After finishing a one-year fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, Sydell came to San Francisco as a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.
Sydell graduated Magna Cum Laude with abachelor’s degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and earned a J.D. from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law.
About the Host
Stephanie Weisman founded and has been the Artistic/Executive Director of The Marsh since its inception in 1989. Under her leadership, The Marsh has grown from a one-night-a-week performance series to producing 600-700 shows annually on its four stages. In addition to its developing work performance series, The Marsh’s programs include: artist-in-residencies, after-school and summer workshops for youth both onsite and in 5 SFUSD, and performance development classes, workshops and Performance Initiatives. In 1996 Stephanie spearheaded the drive to successfully buy their 12,000 sq ft facility on Valencia Street in San Francisco. This increased The Marsh’s programs four-fold as well as provided for a stable Bay Area arts organization. In 2010, The Marsh added a second venue in Berkeley. In 2020, Stephanie initiated MarshStream. She is currently at work developing her opera, Aphrodisia, with dancer, Wei Wang.