What are we all so awkward about? Annalisa Dinnella explores this slippery emotion. Can she and a group of comedians outsmart awkwardness - and should they even be trying? Annalisa has 5% vision and regularly navigates the fog of other people’s awkwardness. Research from the disability charity Scope reveals that 67% of British people feel uncomfortable speaking to a disabled person. While Annalisa sees awkwardness as a daily - and sociologically fascinating - annoyance, she knows full well that the drip-drip effect of everyday awkwardness can be devastating. Annalisa speaks to comedian and theatre-maker Jess Thom who uses her Tourettes as inspiration for her performances. Together, they discuss the best ways to dissect and diffuse the awkwardness people feel about disability. Annalisa also meets Cariad Lloyd whose podcast, Griefcast, drills into the silences surrounding death and grief. Psychiatrist Raj Persaud explores the potential dangers of not voicing our awkwardness and comedian Bethany Black explains why getting our language right can make all the difference. Shouldering other people’s awkwardness is a fine art and daily habit for many of us, but is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Annalisa discovers what might happen if, rather than trying to run from awkwardness, we decide instead to turn around and embrace it.
Written and presented by Annalisa Dinnella
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
Executive Producer: Jo Rowntree
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4
I Feel for You: Narcs and narcissists
At a time when we're being told we need more empathy, some experts claim that narcissism - empathy's evil twin - is on the rise. Narcissism has vaulted off the psychotherapist’s couch, sprinted away from the psychiatric ward, and is now squatting in the mainstream of popular conversation. Social media seems obsessed with "narcs", and with detecting narcissism personality disorder in people. It may or may not be a coincidence that we ended up with an apparent world-class narcissist in the White House at just the time when we seemed to be undergoing a public crisis about narcissism and narcissists. Blogs and books about narcissists are everywhere. Jolyon Jenkins talks to people who make a living from advising the public about narcissists, and a self-confessed celebrity narcissist who offers consultations to people who think they may be living with one of "his kind". The evidence that there really is more narcissism around seems thin, but that doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't take it seriously when it flips into a personality disorder.
Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy
Empathy is the psycho-political buzzword of the day. President Obama said - frequently - that America's empathy deficit was more important than the Federal deficit. Bill Clinton said "I feel your pain", and Hillary urged us all "to see the world through our neighbour’s eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes". Many people have taken up the idea of empathy with gusto, and the United Nations has poured money into virtual reality films that led us allegedly experience the world of, for example, a Syrian refugee. As we seem to be driving ourselves ever deeper into silos of mutual incomprehension, the idea of taking another person's perspective seems an obviously useful one. But what's the evidence that feeling someone else's pain, or even understanding it, actually does any good? Jolyon Jenkins speaks to one self-described intuitive empath, who says she can sense the feelings of strangers in a room or even in the street. She describes it as both a gift and a curse. For the rest of us, is there not a danger that, having felt a brief emotional engagement, we move on, our fundamental attitudes and beliefs unchanged?
Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden
As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born principal dancer, Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes. Marianela Nunez is considered one of the greatest ballerinas in the world, combining passion and flare from her Argentinian background with discipline and experience from her many years with the Royal Ballet. As she celebrates 20 years dancing with the company, she takes Radio Four's Beaty Rubens behind the scenes, sharing what it means to be a Principal Dancer today. The programme focuses on her preparations to dance the two key roles in the much-loved classic, La Bayadere - the temple dancer Nikiya and the princess Gamzatti. It reveals glimpses of her at home in her native Buenos Aires over the summer, follows her as she travels into work, attends specially - designed Pilates classes and studio rehearsals with the great Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova (who recreated Marius Petipa's 1877 Indian Classic for a contemporary audience in 1989) and culminates with her triumphant opening night, leaving her in her dressing room with her feet in a bucket of ice and surrounded by vast bouquets of pink roses. Beaty Rubens also hears from Natalia Makarova, the Royal Ballet's Kevin O'Hare and the leading Russian dancer who partners Marianela, Vadim Muntagirov. Now at the very top of her game, Marinanela Nunez is also a wonderfully charismatic individual, whose love of dance and enthusiasm for life in the Royal Ballet effervesces in this lively depiction of a true artist.
Producer: Beaty Rubens ,
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One
From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.