Litter From America

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101Richard Schiff2017040520180926 (R4)

is best known for the role of Toby Ziegler in The West Wing, the modern-classic American drama series about life in the White House. His own life has been even more eventful.

Here, he recounts his childhood in New York when his mother married Clarence Jones, Martin Luther King's close friend and lawyer. Schiff brought warm laughter to an early meeting of the Black Panthers when, as a 13-year old, he volunteered to hand out leaflets at his school. He offers a very moving account of the assassination of Robert Kennedy and its profound effect on his family and beliefs.

In a real-life echo of the classic Scorsese film, Schiff worked as a New York taxi driver for fours years in the late 1970s, only doing night shifts and encountering both fascinating and dangerous characters as a result of his 'pick up anyone' rule.

He offers a brilliant take on the symphonic nature of Aaron Sorkin's writing for The West Wing and tells, with a laugh, how he imagined Toby's instrument being a bassoon - and so played him accordingly.

In the recent American election, Schiff actively campaigned first for Bernie Sanders, then Hilary Clinton. He reflects on what the Trump Presidency will mean for America in the long-term, and on the future form of the Opposition.

Warm, angry and humorous throughout this personal tour, Schiff is an erudite alternative correspondent.

Producer: Peter Curran

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

The West Wing star Richard Schiff presents a tour of his life and dreams.

Alternative US correspondents present a tour of their scuffed and stained American dreams.

Richard Schiff is best known for the role of Toby Ziegler in The West Wing, the modern-classic American drama series about life in the White House. His own life has been even more eventful.

Here, he recounts his childhood in New York when his mother married Clarence Jones, Martin Luther King's close friend and lawyer. Schiff brought warm laughter to an early meeting of the Black Panthers when, as a 13-year old, he volunteered to hand out leaflets at his school. He offers a very moving account of the assassination of Robert Kennedy and its profound effect on his family and beliefs.

In a real-life echo of the classic Scorsese film, Schiff worked as a New York taxi driver for fours years in the late 1970s, only doing night shifts and encountering both fascinating and dangerous characters as a result of his 'pick up anyone' rule.

He offers a brilliant take on the symphonic nature of Aaron Sorkin's writing for The West Wing and tells, with a laugh, how he imagined Toby's instrument being a bassoon - and so played him accordingly.

In the recent American election, Schiff actively campaigned first for Bernie Sanders, then Hilary Clinton. He reflects on what the Trump Presidency will mean for America in the long-term, and on the future form of the Opposition.

Warm, angry and humorous throughout this personal tour, Schiff is an erudite alternative correspondent.

Producer: Peter Curran
A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Maysoon Zayid2017041220181010 (R4)

US Comedian Maysoon Zayid reflects on putting her Muslim culture and disability to work in life and acclaimed stand-up comedy.

Maysoon Zayid founded the Arab-American comedy festival and gave one of the most watched TED talks on the past few years on her life as a raucously funny and clever stand-up comedian, and a Muslim woman with cerebral palsy living in New Jersey.

Over the past year, she has been forced to employ personal security for some of her gigs because of specific threats. Here, she gives a hilarious tongue-lashing to the culture of prejudice, riffing on the fact that nearly all disabled roles on American TV and Film are played by able-bodied actors.

Maysoon grew up in New Jersey, but spent every summer with her grandparents in the Palestinian territories watching a tatty-but-loved version of Sesame Street and Arab soap-operas. Her dream was to be a New York daytime soap actress but, after hovering in the background as an extra for eighteen months, realised that her type of people were stand-up comedians, not actors. She's currently working on her own online family comedy series set during Ramadan.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

The Arab-American stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid on dreams versus reality.

Alternative US correspondents present a tour of their scuffed and stained American dreams.

US Comedian Maysoon Zayid reflects on putting her Muslim culture and disability to work in life and acclaimed stand-up comedy.

Maysoon Zayid founded the Arab-American comedy festival and gave one of the most watched TED talks on the past few years on her life as a raucously funny and clever stand-up comedian, and a Muslim woman with cerebral palsy living in New Jersey.

Over the past year, she has been forced to employ personal security for some of her gigs because of specific threats. Here, she gives a hilarious tongue-lashing to the culture of prejudice, riffing on the fact that nearly all disabled roles on American TV and Film are played by able-bodied actors.

Maysoon grew up in New Jersey, but spent every summer with her grandparents in the Palestinian territories watching a tatty-but-loved version of Sesame Street and Arab soap-operas. Her dream was to be a New York daytime soap actress but, after hovering in the background as an extra for eighteen months, realised that her type of people were stand-up comedians, not actors. She's currently working on her own online family comedy series set during Ramadan.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

0103 LASTKwame Kwei Armah2017041920181003 (R4)

tours his life and adopted city of Baltimore.

Alternative US correspondents present a tour of their scuffed and stained American dreams.

Taking the songs of Bob Marley into riot-damaged parts of Baltimore and removing the bullet-proof glass barrier from the box-office of his Center Stage theatre are just two of the tasks undertaken by Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei Armah. He muses on the laughs and confusion caused by looking like an African-American but speaking with the cultivated tones and accent of a British actor.

Kwame grew up in London and found fame in the medical drama Holby City before he won the Evening Standard's Most Promising New Playwright award for Elmina's Kitchen, which was a success at the National Theatre. Set in a West Indian restaurant, Elmina's Kitchen tells a tale of family conflict and crime in Hackney, East London. He's also the writer and director of the Bob Marley musical, One Love.

In Litter From America, he reflects on how his character has changed over the years and the qualities he has, and has not, managed to pass onto his children. We also get a portrait of attitudes to President Trump, including those of Charlene Taylor, a hostess in one of the city's downtown diners.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Taking the songs of Bob Marley into riot-damaged parts of Baltimore and removing the bullet-proof glass barrier from the box-office of his Center Stage theatre are just two of the tasks undertaken by Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei Armah. He muses on the laughs and confusion caused by looking like an African-American but speaking with the cultivated tones and accent of a British actor.

Kwame grew up in London and found fame in the medical drama Holby City before he won the Evening Standard's Most Promising New Playwright award for Elmina's Kitchen, which was a success at the National Theatre. Set in a West Indian restaurant, Elmina's Kitchen tells a tale of family conflict and crime in Hackney, East London. He's also the writer and director of the Bob Marley musical, One Love.

In Litter From America, he reflects on how his character has changed over the years and the qualities he has, and has not, managed to pass onto his children. We also get a portrait of attitudes to President Trump, including those of Charlene Taylor, a hostess in one of the city's downtown diners.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei Armah tours his life and adopted city of Baltimore.