You might think David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway is a concert. It’s not. Yet, it’s not exactly a play or a musical. It’s something else outside the box. The Talking Heads frontman— along with choreographer Annie-B Parsons’ and a band of international musicians, vocalists, and dancers—creates a show about exploring the unconventional, especially when it comes to unconventional thought and thought processes.
American Utopia made host Ruthie Fierberg wonder: How many solutions to society’s conflicts might we be overlooking because we think the way we have always thought? American Utopia performer Tendayi Kuumba and experts Dr. Vinoo Alluri and Dr. Alejandro Lleras join us to explore: What problems could we solve if we used more of our minds and used our minds differently? Could we achieve an American Utopia?
Create the Change
- Volunteer with Headcount to register voters at a performance of American Utopia
- Volunteer with Headcount in general
- Cultivate new and varied ways of thinking:
- Enhance your own synesthesia
- Try any of these “6 Ways to Rewire Your Brain”
- If your main way of processing and working is to sit in one spot and concentrate, try talking a walk, dancing, exercising to make your brain work differently by engaging different activity patterns in your brain.
- Develop your “openness” (one of the Big 5 personality traits)
- Read about how openness can help you see the world differently
- Read David Byrne’s How Music Works
- Listen to music outside of your normal playlist
- Dig into more research on music and cognition
- Listen to “happy” music to promote divergent thinking (which leads to increased creativity)
- Explore social justice through music, a curriculum
- Improve your allyship
Referred to in this episode (in order of mention)
- Letter from David Byrne about American Utopia
- Listen to “Here” from American Utopia
- See American Utopia’s set and costumes
- Read about and watch Annie-B Parsons’ American Utopia choreography
- Your brain on music
- Your brain listening to different genres of music
- Grooviness of music
- What is embodied cognition?
- What is embodied cognition to music?
- American Utopia’s partnership with Headcount
- Watch Janelle Monae’s official music video for “Hell You Talmbout”
- Your brain choreographed movement vs improvised movement
- Watch this video debunking the MYTH: “Humans use 10 percent of our brains.”
- What is pruning in the brain?
- Babies learning language
- What is synesthesia?
- Research by Berit Brogaard to unlock more of brain’s potential
- The truth about left brain vs. right brain
- What is dadaism?
- Listen to “I Zimbra” from American Utopia
- David Byrne Talks Being a Good Ally and American Utopia
- How making music can promote brain plasticity
About Our Guests:
Ruthie Fierberg, Host
Dr. Vinoo Alluri PhD, musicologist and neuroscientist
Dr. Alejandro Lleras PhD, psychologist