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Radiolab at BAM

Radiolab's Jad Abumrad has homecourt advantage at BAM

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn can ball, but really the borough is all about brains.

Everyone’s favorite nerd-riffic science radio show from WNYC is coming to Fort Greene in the form of a live performance at BAM — a venue the show’s MacArthur Fellowship-winning creator says would be his home court if he had one.

“It’s one of the most esteemed cultural institutions in Brooklyn and I’ve had some many transformative experiences in that theater,” said Jad Abumrad, one of the show’s two hosts and a Fort Greene resident. “The fact that we get to stand on that stage and maybe do that for someone else, is so surreal; it’s like my Madison Square Garden.”

The performance at BAM on June 26 and 27 will do more than bring the radio show to stage, Abumrad says, and will include dance performances, live music and comedy to bring alive the many dimensions of the show’s unique style of storytelling as it tackles themes around light, darkness and sight.

Abumrad, who was awarded a prestigious “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in September, has lived in Brooklyn since 1995 and says the nationally syndicated show — number three on iTunes ten most downloaded — can attribute at least part of its success to Brooklyn.

“We work out of Lower Manhattan, but I feel that Fort Greene is the place I retreat to where the actual inspiration takes root. The work is never completed unless I’m walking around my neighborho­od,” said Abumrad. “You’re trying to tell stories that resonate in your body on some level, and for me that registers when I’m walking in Fort Greene Park. In a way I feel that in some way everything I do here is inspired by Brooklyn.”

And Abumrad, cohost of the show that explores such brainy topics as the notion of selfhood and elasticity of time, wants to clear up one fundamental misunderstanding about the alleged coolness of his borough of choice.

“The fusion of dork and cool finds its most profound expression in Brooklyn but the entire borough is dorky to some extent,” he said. “There’s something nerdy about the obsession people have with things here. I mean artisanal pickle makers — pickles are a garnish, yet someone has lost themselves in the art of making them — that’s freaking dorky.”

Radiolab presents “In the Dark” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. between Fulton Street and Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org]. June 26 and 27, 8 pm. $35.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.
Updated 8:57 am, June 14, 2012
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