‘Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host’

Ira Glass joins Monica Bill Barnes & Company Nov. 1-2

Ira Glass joins Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass in “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host” Nov. 1-2. Hi-res photos upon request. (Credit: David Bazemore (2))

You know the voice. Reedy. Amused. Unflappable. As host and executive producer of “This American Life,” Ira Glass pioneered a new form of radio storytelling, one that combines journalistic precision with literary insight and irreverence.

But do you know the dance moves?

On Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1 and 2, Glass will join forces with Monica Bill Barnes & Company for “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host.”

The show, presented as part of the Edison Ovations Series, unites two distinctive art forms, dance and radio, that, as Glass jokingly puts it, “have no business being together.”

Dancing with the semifamous

Barnes and Glass first met in 2011, when Glass appeared in a “Dancing with the Stars” parody at The Talent Show in Brooklyn. Barnes was a judge, along with regular “This American Life” contributor David Rakoff. The bespectacled Glass — who admits to possessing the body language of an aging Mr. Spock — took second place for a modern duet.

A few months later, Glass attended a performance of Barnes’ work and, sensing an artistic kinship, commissioned her in 2012 to create pieces for “This American Life Live!” The evening was simulcast to movie screens across the nation and also featured dancer Anna Bass, a member of Barnes’ company.

That collaboration became the seed for “Three Acts,” a version of which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2013. As the title indicates, the show, like “This America Life,” adopts a traditional dramatic structure. Act 1 explores the job of being a performer. Act 2 centers on falling in love and what it means to stay in love. Act 3 investigates the aftereffects of losing what you love.

“What makes it work is a shared sensibility,” Glass said. “As dancers, Monica and Anna are these amazingly relatable and funny storytellers without words.”

Said Bass: “I think it’s still blowing Ira’s mind to see some of the radio pieces remade this way, with props and costume changes and lighting cues.

“Combining these art forms has led to a show that’s unlike anything I’ve ever choreographed before.”

“People who like ‘This American Life’ will probably like this,” Glass said, “because it’s just like the radio show, um, if you picture dancing during all the stories.”

Tickets and sponsors

Performances of “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host” begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2. Tickets are $36, or $32 seniors, $28 for Washington University faculty and staff and $20 for students and children.

Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call 314-935-6543, e-mail edison@wustl.edu or visit edison.wustl.edu.

Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.