The Red Barn Theatre is by no means the first tenant of the building at 948 N. Main Ave--at more than 80 years old, the building has seen many inhabitants. Its current occupant, the Red Barn Theatre, celebrates its 12th birthday on Saturday.
An integral part of Tucson's theater scene, it is home to the Red Barn Children's Drama Group and the Barnstorm Players (directed by theater owner and director Rosemary Snow) and the Red Barn Theatre Company (directed by Joanne Anderson). The theater also serves as a venue for musical acts and the New Kiva Motions Puppet Theater, which performs weekly puppet shows for all ages.
The Red Barn's unique approach to theater features non-offensive family shows combined with intelligent dialogue. "When I write scripts, I don't talk down, with real simple talk for kids," says Snow. "They have to learn new words."
Snow is proud of her theater's contribution to local entertainment. "Things are never quite the same when you see a show twice," she says. "There's nothing quite like live theater. It's not like going to see a movie."
The birthday festivities feature a sampling of the many delights offered by the theater. A solo recital by Rosemary Snow kicks off the evening. She will play the fiddle, sing, perform classical music and take requests for "pops." At 6 p.m., the Red Barn Duffer Orchestra, featuring practicing musicians of all ages, performs a concert featuring a variety of musical styles. The open house begins at 7 p.m., with an hour of live music in jam session format, food and edible decorations. Best of all, this birthday party is free and open to everyone. --C.S.
To mark the start of another school year, Sonoran Glass Art Academy celebrates by offering a free day of glassblowing demonstrations open to the public. Glass enthusiasts and those curious can watch staff and students as they create decorative glass art. Several artists will be creating glass pumpkins to prepare for a Pumpkin Fiesta event in October.
Executive director David Morden says this is the third year the Academy has held an open house. The school opened in 2001 and offers a variety of classes. "We offer one-day classes for people curious about glass blowing. ... Our main class is a 10-week class. You get the basic knowledge of fundamentals of glass blowing. And then we have graduated levels from there. We also have master classes where artists around the country teach specialized techniques."
Morden says students are a variety of ages. "We have some retired folks, professionals looking for creative outlets and art majors from the UA and Pima." All are fascinated by glass.
But working with glass is not always predictable. "It's always a surprise," says Morden. "It's a very intense art form. You have to understand the properties of glass and heat. There's always something new to challenge your creative eye. ... It's a dance with glass and heat to get the part you want to expand and keep the part you want to keep cool so it doesn't grow. It feels like it's alive. You are in a dialogue with the glass."
During the open house, staff and board members will be on hand to answer questions about classes and glassblowing. Student art will also be on sale in the gallery. --I.M.
Scorpions. Tarantulas. Wolf spiders. On Sunday, the sorts of things that many people fear about Arizona--along with their arthropod kin from foreign lands--will be on display at Bookman's. And if you see an ecstatic child holding a hissing cockroach, don't be alarmed. That's exactly the point of Tony's Creepy Crawly Zoo.
Tony Gustin, the showman of the traveling zoo, says that critter-happy kids may have a choice of "creepy crawlies" to touch: African millipedes, walking sticks, praying mantes, stink beetles--he notes that they "stand on their heads and ooze when touched"--and of course the aforementioned hissing cockroach, which "hisses" by expelling air from tiny holes along its body. Now there's an opportunity to see how the other side lives.
The zoo also features insects and arthropods that are not safe to handle, but still fascinating to see up close. Local scorpions, wolf spiders, giant centipedes, African assassin bugs and even a Goliath bird-eater tarantula are just some of the critters you may find staring back at you at this zoo.
Gustin says that the most common reactions on the part of his guests are "shock and awe. Everyone in the beginning has their opinions. Fear is taught; sometimes kids will come in and say, 'I ain't touching nothing.' Some are into it to begin with."
Kids are notoriously drawn to bugs--the weirder, the better--but the Creepy Crawly Zoo has a goal beyond just shock value. "It is meant to make them laugh, scream, understand and respect," Gustin says. "Once you've held (the animal) and looked in its face, you're not going to step on it next time. It changes your experience with it." --C.S.
When you step onto the grounds at the Valley of the Moon, it's as if you are transported to a magical place of fantasy and kindness. A walk through the site is a gander through an enchanted world of rock cliffs, caves, pools and garden miniatures.
"It's Tucson's only historical fantasyland," says Randy Van Nostrand. Nostrand is the president of the George Phar Legler Society, named after the man who built Valley of the Moon in the 1920s. "It's a place where the community can share in George Phar Legler's legacy that kindness to all is the golden key to happiness."
Throughout the year, the Valley offers moon strolls (a chance to wonder at your leisure) and special events. Starting on Friday, Aug. 26, The Princess Bride will be performed. "It's a very funny adaptation, similar to the movie of the same name," says Van Nostrand.
The story is about a girl named Buttercup who is kidnapped. Her true love, Wesley, must save her before the evil Prince Humperdinck forces her to marry him. "Wesley and Buttercup are seeking to find true love in the land where magic rules," says Van Nostrand. The free performance lasts 50 minutes and is a walking show.
Van Nostrand has high hopes for the Valley of the Moon. Not wanting the site to be called a hidden treasure, he wants "to make it accessible to the public and share it with as many people as possible." This involves inviting schools and businesses to participate in partnerships with the society. He says he has "big dreams for the Valley of the Moon because it's a one-of-a-kind place." --I.M.