Arts & Culture
As summer moves toward autumn, don’t miss a final opportunity to catch Actors Theatre’s very funny two-play repertory before it slips away. Presented at the Helen K Mason Performing Arts Center, The Cottage by Sandy Rustin continues through August 10, while The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarías ends its run August 17.
By scheduling performances throughout June, July, and August, Producing Artistic Director Matthew Wiener deliberately bucked a common misconception about Valley audiences. “There used to be this kind of prevailing wisdom that everyone left Phoenix in the summer…that’s why no one did anything,” says Wiener. “And that’s just not true. I mean, a lot of people take vacations and holidays but they don’t go away for 12 weeks.”
“Actors Theatre is trying to actively reinvent after leaving the Herberger, which was a shock to our system,” he continues, “and I think this summer program is one way that we’re trying to stay vital and relevant and exciting and important to the community.”
According to Wiener, the strength of the company’s performances lies in strong casting. “They’re just marvelous performers,” he says. “I was actually trying to cast both shows together…the characters seemed to line up…and so I started kind of making up my fantasy football.” Wiener laughs. “It was like fantasy casting, and I pretty much got my first choice — my first draft.”
He explains, “I was really looking for actors who are very flexible, who could manage the language — because the language of both plays is pretty challenging — and people who I thought would get along well for 10 weeks.” Weiner continues, “These are very long contracts for the actors…and it was important to me that we work with all local people.” He adds with a smile, “I think I just got really, really lucky.”
Both plays feature Maren Maclean, who’s performed for Phoenix Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Verse Theatre Manhattan. Joseph Kremer, who starred in a potent Actors Theatre production of A Steady Rain last season, joins Angelica Howland — familiar from performances with Phoenix Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, and Childsplay — and Tyler Eglen, an actor-educator with a diverse background in theater and science. Ian Christiansen of Southwest Shakespeare, Stray Cat, and Phoenix Theatre rounds out the cast with recent ASU graduate Alexis Green.
“I think they’re all lovely,” says Wiener, “and they all have different moments.” He points out, “Maren, who plays Ana [in The Book Club Play] — she really has to run the gamut of emotionality. And we actually worked on that, because…you want it to be emotionally truthful, but by the same token you don’t want it to get so deep and horrifying that you can never work yourself out of it.” Wiener smiles. “Because after all they have to live happily ever after — it’s a comedy.”
The Book Club Play delves into the dynamics of a long-running book club, with plenty of shocking revelations and laughably realistic interplay. “I think it’s fun when they talk about the ‘homoerotic undertones of Moby Dick,’ [and] making fun of Twilight,” says Wiener. He explains that the play began as a more satirical, hard-hitting piece until Zacarías — the experienced, award-winning author of The Bare-chested Man, Looking for Roberto Clemente, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, and an adaptation of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents – reworked it.
“I think it’s a testament to the writing, and the fact that it’s been rewritten several times,” he says. “Karen is a very careful writer — the language is very specific. And I just have an amazing ‘A’ team up there.”
The Cottage, on the other hand, is pure farce written by actress Sandy Rustin, who created the Off-Broadway sketch comedy musical Rated P (for parenthood). “It has some of the style of Nöel Coward,” says Wiener. “It’s informed by that kind of English aristocracy or English wit.” He adds, “It’s not an earth-shattering piece of theater, but it’s pretty damn funny for an hour and a half.”
“Right now there’s a fair amount of dialogue in the theater industry about the lack of women’s plays being produced,” Wiener continues, “and it’s something odd going on that we’re so far away from parity. But Actors Theatre has traditionally done a lot of plays by women.” He says with a laugh, “Maybe there’s just something about the voices that I enjoy — I grew up in a house filled with women; I live in house filled with women.”
Actors Theatre also presents That’s Life: From Sinatra to Sondheim on August 10, featuring Kristen Drathman, Rusty Ferracane and Craig Bohmler performing standards from the Great American Songbook and Broadway, including tunes by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, and more.
Look for a future DPJ story previewing Actors Theatre’s upcoming 2014-2015 season, which includes Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, Sharr White’s Annapurna, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
If you go:
- Troupe: Actors Theatre at www.actorstheatrephx.org or 602-253-6701
- General admission
- Venue: The Helen K Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 E. Washington
(nearby free parking available)
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CITY OF PHOENIX AND PHOENIX COMMUNITY ALLIANCE TEAM UP FOR “LIGHTS ON CENTRAL AVENUE” SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY
The city of Phoenix and Phoenix Community Alliance have teamed up to encourage community sponsorships to continue “Lights on Central Avenue,” a Phoenix tradition of displaying lighted holiday decorations along Central Avenue, from Camelback Road to Baseline Avenue. During recent years, funding has diminished and community support is vital to continue this tradition.
“One of my favorite memories as a child is when my family would take my mother’s yellow station wagon and drive down Central Avenue to look at the holiday lights. Learning that the holiday lights may not be a possibility due to funding was heartbreaking. I am hopeful others in our community enjoy this tradition as much as I do and together we can keep this tradition alive,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, District 7.
Each sponsor will be recognized with a banner(s) featuring the organization/business name and logo to be displayed along Central Avenue, along with recognition in the city’s “At Your Service” newsletter, distributed via the city’s water bill, and on Councilman Nowakowski’s PHXTV show, among other recognition. Sponsorship opportunities cover specific portions of Central Avenue, and start at $1,800.
For more information on this sponsorship opportunity, please visit phoenix.gov/rfp and click on the “Lights on Central RFS” link. Statement of interest forms must be submitted no later than 2 p.m. Arizona time on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. For specific questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 602-262-7654. Question and answer deadline is 5 p.m. Aug. 8.
Photo courtesy of Jack London.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
“Food and Drink Inspired TEDx Event Happening in Downtown Phoenix on August 28th“
“If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get out of the Kitchen” is the theme of the upcoming TEDxEvansChurchill event, which will bring chefs, bartenders, food growers, scientists, artists and restaurateurs out of their kitchens and onto the stage to talk about the things that get them excited in the world of food and beverages.
What do a tobacco smoked cocktail, vegetables growing under the shade of city buildings, mind-expanding edibles, and the newest craze in printing all have in common? They are just a few of the enlightening topics to be discussed at the upcoming TEDxEvansChurchill event at the Renaissance Hotel Downtown Phoenix, AZ on August 28. TEDxEvansChurchill, sponsored by New Belgium Brewery and Downtown Phoenix Inc., will feature more than 8 speakers who will share inspiring and thought-provoking insights on their areas of expertise.
Some of the presenters include: Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktail’s Stephanie Teslar, Brat Haus‘s Payton Curry, Short Leash’s Brad Moore and a local beer cicerone. The emcees for the evening will be Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty and David Tyda of Affordable Food Festivals.
FED after TED will take place directly following the presentations and will include beer samples paired with small plates from downtown restaurants (Marston’s Cafe, Phoenix Public Market, Kincaid’s and more) while mingling and meeting the speakers. Tickets are available for the presentation and after party separately, or offered at a discount if purchased together. 21+ with photo ID for beer wristband, under 18 must be accompanied by legal guardian.
7 PM to 8 PM (Registration will begin at 6 PM.)
FED after TED – 8 PM to 10 PM
Where: Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
50 E Adams St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Tickets: $20 for TEDxEvansChurchill, $10 for FED after TED, or $25 for both events.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
The City of Phoenix has announced three important personnel moves. Congratulations to Alan Stephenson, Planning & Development Director; Christine Mackay, Community and Economic Development Director; and Karl Matzinger, Housing Director.
Construction has begun on Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Law and Society, a six-story, $129 million building at Second and Taylor streets. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will be situated there.
Epoch Properties, based in Winter Park, FL, received Phoenix City Council approval to develop 292 new apartments just east of downtown near Washington, 11th, and 12th streets. The two four-story apartment buildings will be called 11 Capital Place and 12 Capital Place.
History In the Making
The City of Phoenix received seven proposals for redevelopment of the Barrister Place Building and adjacent land parcels at Central and Jefferson Avenues. Built in 1915 as the Jefferson Hotel, the building is most famous for being featured in the opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller, “Psycho.” We do assume residential elements of the ultimate redevelopment will have showers!
On July 22, the Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board reversed its earlier decision to demolish the 1938 WPA Administration Building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds after significant public outcry, questions from state lawmakers, and a Temporary Restraining Order issued by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge. A working group of preservation professionals, community leaders, and City of Phoenix staff is preparing a plan to present to state lawmakers and fair officials to stabilize, renovate, and find a good use for the building.
Phoenix-based New City Church purchased the mid century modern building at 1300 N. Central Ave., from Drapac Group of Los Angeles. The building will include worship space for 550-600 people, a library, gallery, coffee bar, lounge, recording studio, and kids space.
Devour Phoenix, a city-wide coalition of independent restaurants associated with Local First Arizona, launched an eGift card redeemable at over 25 of its member restaurants, many in and around downtown Phoenix.
Burger Joint Chicago opened on the ground floor of the U.S. Bank Building at the corner of First Avenue and Adams Street. Monday through Thursday the restaurant will serve downtown employees and visitors from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday they will stay open until 3 a.m. for the night-time crowd.
Yes, We Can
Demonstrating Phoenix’s “can-do” attitude is the eighth annual Canstruction Competition, an International community service event that has contributed more than 21 million pounds of food worldwide (350,000 pounds locally for St. Mary’s Food Bank). You can view 11 huge artful displays, including a 1,600-pound hippo comprised of 2,000 cans of green beans, spaghetti rings, and green chilies, at downtown’s Phoenix Convention Center til Aug. 1.
The Lost World
Phoenix DinoCon is the only convention in the nation that celebrates dinosaurs’ place in pop culture and it’s happening Aug. 2 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
A Slice of Pi
Another DPI-sponsored event, Peace Pi, is a transformational music festival coming to Margaret T. Hance Park on March 14 & 15, 2015. Don’t know what a transformational music festival is? Learn more by attending a free screening of the documentary, “Bloom – A Journey Through Transformational Festivals,” at the Herberger Theater Center’s KAX Stage on Aug. 3 at 3 p.m. RSVP to attend this special engagement by sending an email to Peace Pi founder Robert Farthing.
“FlowRider” officially opened July 10 at CityScape. The 38,000-gallon mobile wave simulator gives downtown visitors the chance to boogie board on an artificial wave made by pumping water over a tension-fabric structure. Other “Surfing on Central” activities feature a tiki bar, lounge chairs, and regularly scheduled events, such as beach blanket movie nights and Thursdays ladies’ night.
Keepin’ It Green
A unique public/private partnership is saving dozens of mature trees and bringing additional shade and beauty to downtown. When a City of Phoenix-owned lot on Second Street between Taylor and Polk was tabbed as the future site of ASU’s Arizona Center for Law and Society, a place-holding parking lot was created. When the timetable for construction of the law school was accelerated, it left the future of the lot’s 116 trees in doubt. The Downtown Phoenix Partnership is collaborating with ASU, DPR Construction, and the City of Phoenix to save many of the trees and transition them to new homes in the downtown core.
- Community Town Hall & Construction Update, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, July 30
- PCA Schmooze & News Summer Networking, Renaissance Hotel, July 31
- First Friday Artwalk, downtown Phoenix, Aug. 1
- Phoenix DinoCon, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Aug. 2
- Phoenix Spokes People: Bike to the Ballpark, Hamburger Works, Aug. 8
- Arizona Diamondbacks MLB baseball, Chase Field, various dates in July/Aug
- Phoenix Mercury WNBA basketball, US Airways Center, various dates in July/Aug
- Summer in the City, downtown Phoenix, all summer long
Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro