What’s love got to do with it? Tina Turner isn’t the only one asking. To the Best of Our Knowledge — the nationally syndicated show produced by Wisconsin Public Radio — intends to explore the notion of love in front of a live audience.
“Love + Evolution” is a special live, ticketed version of the Peabody Award-winning radio show that will take place Feb. 9 at the Majestic Theatre. It’s the first live show the program has held in Madison in more than a decade and is far more elaborate than its previous endeavors on stage.
“It’ll be a mixture of romance, compassion, sex and some deeper ways of thinking about love,” says executive producer Steve Paulson. “Part of it will be a little edgy. And some of it will be talking about other kinds of love, like altruism.”
The show will delve into the science of love in a series of interviews conducted by Paulson, producer Charles Monroe-Kane and host Anne Strainchamps, who is married to Paulson. On the list: biologists David Sloan Wilson and Jeff Schloss; Carin Bondar, host of Animal Planet’s World’s Oddest Animal Couples; and Lisa Diamond, author of Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.
The audience will enjoy performances from Milwaukee author and storyteller Dasha Kelly, comedian Esteban Touma and the self-described “polyrhythmic, mono-member musical entity” Asumaya.
Partners in life and radio: Steve Paulson and Anne Strainchamps.
Typewriter poets will be on hand, too. “When you come into the Majestic, they will type out a love poem for you. So it should be a combination of a festive, engaging live event and the deep dive into the world of ideas that we usually do on the radio,” says Paulson, adding that an edited version of the show will air several weeks after the live event.
“Love + Evolution” is being co-produced by the Chicago-based nonprofit Center for Humans & Nature. A few months ago, the center approached To The Best of Our Knowledge about partnering on a project examining what evolution can teach us about morality. Paulson says the idea eventually morphed into reframing the question of morality into love (Valentine’s Day is just a few days later, after all.) The collaboration also furthers To The Best of Our Knowledge’s interest in putting on more live stage shows. Last year, they were invited by the public radio station in Salt Lake City (KUER) to host a show in Utah. In May, To The Best of Our Knowledge will be headed to St. Louis.
“It’s fun doing what we do. But it is a little weird sometimes sitting all alone in a radio studio, often talking with a guest who is also alone in a radio studio half-way across the country,” says Paulson. “It’s just great to go out and make connections with real people. It’s a really quick immersion in a local culture, and that’s good for us. It also helps support the local public radio stations that air the show.”
Since Michael Feldman’s Whad’ya Know? was canceled in June, To the Best of Our Knowledge is now Wisconsin Public Radio’s most widely syndicated show. More than 200 radio stations air the program’s two 60-minute episodes produced each week. The show was created in 1990 by Paulson and Strainchamps with longtime host Jim Fleming, who retired in 2014.