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Studs Terkel to Be Remembered by Ira Glass, Others at Weekend Festival

By Sam Cholke | May 6, 2014 11:32am
 Those who knew and were inspired by Studs Terkel will gather at the University of Chicago on May 9-11 to celebrate the oral historian.
Let's Get Working
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HYDE PARK — Storyteller Studs Terkel cast a long shadow on the city he called home and now those that grew up in that shadow will remember his life and work with a three-day festival at the University of Chicago.

The “Let’s Get Working: Chicago Celebrates Studs Terkel” festival will feature writers and artists that Terkel mentored and inspired like Ira Glass and premiere work from new artists inspired to create stories based on his work in books like “Working” and “Race.”

“We wanted the festival to not only be a celebration of Terkel’s life and work, but also be generative as well,” said Paul Durica, an organizer of the festival, who has been performing improvised shows based on Terkel’s television show, “Stud’s Place.”

“Let’s Get Working” will run from Friday to Sunday at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., on the University of Chicago campus and all events will be free and open to the public. The weekend will culminate with an off-campus recreation of “Stud’s Place” at the Hideout.

Durica and Judy Hoffman, the producer of the film “It’s a Life” based on Terkel’s work, have commissioned young artists, many who never met the voice of Chicago personally, to create new work based on Terkel’s interviews and stories about the prismatic lives of average residents of the city.

Like Peter Pan, Terkel’s shadow will appear separate from its former host at 5 p.m. on Saturday as part of a performance by Manual Cinema. The group has created a shadow puppet performance with live music to accompany a story Terkel recorded shortly before his death in 2008.

“Everyone in Chicago knows him, he’s just in the ether,” said Drew Dir, the co-artistic director of the group, which will adapt Terkel’s story and two other stories recorded by StoryCorps.

StoryCorps founder David Isay will join a host of writers, artists and storytellers who knew Terkel personally at 9 p.m. Friday to share memories of the iconoclast.

“When Studs was 91½, he took time to fly to New York City to cut the ribbon on our first StoryCorps booth in Grand Central Terminal,” Isay wrote on the 100th anniversary of Terkel’s birth in 2012. “At the opening, Studs proclaimed, ‘We know who the architect of Grand Central was, but who laid these floors? Who built these walls? These are the voices you must celebrate through StoryCorps!’”

Host of “This American Life” Ira Glass will talk about Terkel’s influence on his own use of radio to tell stories and the horizons Terkel left current storytellers to push beyond at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Throughout the weekend, there will be screenings of Terkel’s television and film work and listening stations to take-in his radio work.

For fans of Terkel’s work it’s a chance that may not come again to revel in his work.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Durica said. “It would be good if there was something that keeps Stud’s work and memory alive.”

A full schedule of events is available at studs.uchicago.edu.