Playhouse's New Artistic Director Takes The Stage

Aug 1, 2019

On today’s program: Point Park gets a new artistic director; the Allegheny Front fact-checks a Trump speech on the environment; a group of Pittsburgh high schoolers releases an album about their lived experiences; and YWCA champions the empowerment of girls and women during contentious times.

Steven Breese is the new artistic director of Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse and dean of the Conservatory of Performing Arts.
Credit Courtesy of Point Park University

Point Park hires new Playhouse artistic director 
(0:00 – 12:56) 

Today marks writer and performer Steven Breese's first as artistic director of Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse and dean of the Conservatory of Performing Arts. Breese says he's excited about the existing 2018-19 season and doesn't expect any wholesale changes to the school's offerings any time soon. 

Point Park’s facilities, like the new downtown home to the Pittsburgh Playhouse, will be a boon to future student and professional showcases, he says, and help recruit both students and financial investments. A long-time actor, writer, and director himself, Breese says he still has lots to learn about the school and its fundraising needs.

But Breese says he's most excited about that first day of school. He counsels students: "Listen carefully to those who know the work. Everyone will tell you in the arts what they think, but choose your mentors and listen carefully to what their advice is, and I think you'll be just fine."

Fact-checking Trump’s environmental record
(13:50 – 17:49)

During a recent speech at the White House, surrounded by several members of his cabinet, President Donald Trump touted his administration’s environmental record, saying that the environment is getting cleaner while the economy is growing. For the Trump on Earth podcast, Reid Frazier took a look at the claims in Trump’s speech with Rebecca Leber, a climate politics and science reporter for Mother Jones. Leber called the speech an exercise in gas lighting the public, arguing that Trump is trying to build a case for reduced regulation.

Krunk Movement makes music to spread a message
(17:50 – 21:48)

A group of Pittsburgh high schoolers known as the Krunk Movement have spent their summer in a church basement in Hazelwood, channeling their questions, beliefs and hopes into music. The result is an album titled, “Thinking Out Loud,” that includes songs about mental health, getting in trouble, planning for the future and falling in love. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider reports Center of Life, which runs the music program, hopes to eventually expand the program, but for now, it offers the students a safe space to express themselves and talk about issues like social justice in a creative way. 

YWCA is still working for women
(21:48 – 38:15)

When people think of YWCA, they may also think of YMCA, but the two organizations have no formal relationship and their missions diverged years ago–YMCA is primarily a health club, YWCA is focused on social justice and providing programs and services to women and girls across the country.

“Not all YWCAs have pools, but we help women when they’re drowning,” says Alejandra Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA. She joins Janine Woods, recently named CEO of YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, and Sylvia Fields, executive director of the Eden Hall Foundation and member of the board of directors for YWCA USA.

YWCA’s mission on social justice has intensified in recent years, Castillo tells The Confluence, but the organization has always been political. Since its inception, YWCA has advocated for those who are disadvantaged, and YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh will continue to fight for them, especially the women and girls among them, says Woods.

“We’re here to make a difference in the lives of women,” Woods says. “It’s not a job, it’s a mission.”

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.