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Strange and Creative? Must Have Been a Film by Johnny Depp, Tim Burton

A question from China about the movies made by the actor-director team. Also, the paper houses of architect Shigeru Ban. And the folk-influenced music of Jaymay. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I’m Doug Johnson.

Today we listen to music from singer Jaymay …

Answer a question about actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton …

And tell about a man who uses paper to build houses.


Shigeru Ban


Not many people can say they have been inside a house made of paper. The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban makes buildings out of low cost and reusable materials like paper tubes. He has become well known for designing temporary homes for refugees. Shirley Griffith has more.


Shigeru Ban makes buildings that combine modern design with the traditions of his native country, Japan. He has helped redefine permanent and temporary shelters. For example, in nineteen ninety-one, he designed a library for a poet in Japan. Mister Ban created a tall and airy room for a collection of books. This was his first permanent structure built with tubes made from paper. Two years later, Japan allowed the use of paper tubes in its official building rules.

Mister Ban has said that he was first interested in paper materials because they are low cost and easy to use and replace without producing waste.

He has since made many extraordinary structures from paper. These include the Japan Pavilion at the Hanover Expo in Germany in two thousand. This huge covered structure had a curving ceiling whose form was like an ocean wave.

Last year, Mister Ban and his architects built a paper bridge over a river near the town of Remoulin in France. Its design was similar to the nearby Pont du Gard built in ancient Roman times.

In nineteen ninety-four, Shigeru Ban saw pictures of the poorly built shelters in refugee camps in Rwanda. He proposed that the United Nations use paper tube structures instead. His shelter idea was low cost, easy and could be built quickly. And, it was good-looking. Mister Ban has since helped design temporary shelters for earthquake refugees in Kobe, Japan, Turkey and India. He says that the shelters must be beautiful because the refugees have suffered mental damage and need nice places to live.

Shigeru Ban recently spoke at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He praised a group of architecture students working on ideas for refugee housing.

SHIGERU BAN: “I am very happy you are interested in working in that kind of field. It’s very unusual as architects. Because now there are so many big developers all over the world asking renowned architects to design to make money. But it seems like you are choosing different streams. To work for the general public and even for the victims, that is I think really great.”

Shigeru Ban said his suggestion for the students is to start building their ideas. He said the important thing is to find problems and solve them based on local conditions and the needs of people.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp


Our listener question this week comes from China. Shen Nan wants to know more about the movies of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp.

The director and actor have worked together on many films. Their first movie together was “Edward Scissorhands” in nineteen ninety. Like many of Tim Burton’s movies, “Edward Scissorhands” is intensely creative and strange.

In it, Johnny Depp plays a young man who has sharp knives instead of hands. He falls in love with a beautiful girl. Depp had to learn to show emotion using only his eyes. So he studied the movies of the great silent film actor Charlie Chaplin.

Johnny Depp has said that when he first met Tim Burton they had an immediate connection and understanding. Their other movies include “Ed Wood," “Sleepy Hollow” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

In the animation movie “Corpse Bride," Depp provides the voice of the main character, Victor Van Dort. Tim Burton has often praised Johnny Depp for his willingness to try new and difficult roles in movies. For example, Depp had never worked on an animation movie, but was excited to try something new.

Johnny Depp faced a whole new level of difficulty in his most recent movie with Tim Burton. In last year’s movie version of the Broadway musical “Sweeney Todd," Depp had to learn how to sing. And the songs for this musical by Stephen Sondheim are not easy to perform.


Johnny Depp said that singing at first was one of the strangest things he had ever tried. But his efforts were well received. Johnny Depp gained much critical praise for "Sweeney Todd" including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

There is no word currently on any new projects between this popular creative team. But whatever movie Tim Burton and Johnny Depp do next promises to be creative and interesting.



Jaymay might sound like the name of a hip-hop performer. In fact, Jaymay is the professional name of twenty-six-year-old singer Jamie Kristine Seerman. This musician from Long Island, New York, writes and sings expressive folk-influenced songs. Critics are praising her clear, sweet voice and lovely music. Faith Lapidus plays three songs from Jaymay’s first full-length album, “Autumn Fallin'.”



That was the song “Sea Green, See Blue.” Like many of Jaymay’s songs, this one tells about rejection and the memories of past love. Her music is greatly influenced by the songs of one of her favorite musicians, Bob Dylan.

As a child, Jaymay played the piano and violin. But she did not always want to play music professionally. Jaymay wanted to work in the publishing industry because of her deep love of books. But when she did not find the job she wanted in this business, she started singing at "open mic" events in New York City. An open mic event is a live show where anyone can perform at the microphone.

These events helped Jaymay realize that she wanted to be a performer. She soon became a popular singer in New York. One of her songs caught the attention of people working at iTunes, the Apple company’s online music store. Her song “Gray or Blue” became a top selling song on iTunes.


Jaymay says the album “Autumn Fallin'” tells about seven months of life and relationships in New York. Most songs deal with love affairs that are over. But there is also a message of hope in the last song on the album. We leave you with “You Are the Only One I Love.”



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written and produced by Dana Demange. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

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