Three years ago, Stephanie Parker--co-founder of the Aurora Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women with extreme life challenges--met Alana Jane Nichols, who'd lost the use of her legs in a snowboarding accident. Nichols, an intern with the foundation, was frustrated with her lack of wardrobe options after her accident.
Fashionable clothing doesn't often come in sizes for paraplegics, and Parker and Nichols wondered: Why doesn't it?
Aurora hopes to eventually release a line of designer clothing especially for disabled women, but Parker wasn't content to wait for that day. "Since we couldn't design and sell clothes," Parker says, "we decided to have a fashion show."
The disABLED Divaz Fashion Show, now in its third year, gives women with disabilities their moment in the limelight and a chance to show off their many abilities, rather than their one disability.
"It's been an incredibly positive experience," says Wendy Wolf, a former keynote speaker and current model. But Wolf, who was Ms. Wheelchair Arizona 2006, wants to be more than just a model: She also wants to be a role model. "It has helped me grow to help others," she says about the work she's done in the months of workshops, during which the models are trained about the challenges of the runway--and the challenges of life, faced by all people, disabled or not. "You can see the changes these women undergo in the workshops, in their attitude, their self confidence," says Wolf. "They just blossomed as the weeks went on."
In addition to the runway show--the culmination of the workshops--the gala event includes a silent auction, a reception, live entertainment and dinner. Tickets are $75, or $50 for students and seniors 65 and older. Proceeds support the Aurora Foundation's workshops and leadership programs. --A.M.
More than three decades ago, John Wayne visited the Fox Tucson Theatre while on location in Tucson. This weekend, there is another chance to catch the American icon at the theater, in all his glory. The opportunity comes in the form of a restored 3-D version of the 1953 classic Hondo.
"It's a really cool, important film," says Herb Stratford, executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre.
One of Wayne's many Western films, Hondo was filmed during a time when 3-D movies were gaining popularity, Stratford says. The medium foundered, however: Apparently, working two projectors at once was too difficult. The lack of communication on how to ensure a good 3-D movie-going experience only made things worse.
Hondo 3-D was relegated to a life of darkness and occasional spots on TV until Gretchen Wayne and Batjac Productions restored the film. It is now a Dolby Digital, cutting-edge film that requires expensive glasses to view, instead of those old, flimsy, red-and-blue-lens 3-D glasses. No worries: The ticket cost covers the glasses.
The theater, decorated with costumes and props from the film, is also hosting a panel discussion featuring filmmakers and the restorer, Gretchen Wayne, on the premiere night. The filmmakers include Mick Garris, Walter Hill, Ron Shelton and John Landis, all of whom will speak about the importance of the film and working in the Southwest. "It's not like we're throwing a film up on the screen; it's a whole production," Stratford says.
The opening night costs $55--a higher price due to the large-scale production--and the doors open at 6 p.m. The Sunday matinee is $20, sans the panel and decorations. --M.K.
A Jonathan Larson musical is coming to Tucson--and, no, it's not Rent.
Studio Connections is producing tick, tick ... Boom! The musical draws heavily on Larson's own struggles while trying to make it as a composer in New York City and is seen as an autobiographical account of the last decade of his life. Robert Encila, director of the play and of Studio Connections, explains that the composition originated as a loose collection of monologues and songs that Larson brought around to workshops.
The musical, as it stands now, wasn't produced until 2001, six years after Larson's death, as an off-Broadway production.
The songs are typical of what Larson created--rock music. "It's really contemporary rock that's eerily similar to Rent," Encila says.
Similarities to other musicals are seen as well. Larson's idol, Stephen Sondheim, gets a nod with an ending that is heavily influenced by the ending of Sondheim's Company. The compositions also draw from Sondheim's work, with similar tonal arrangements and form.
Students in Tucson dominate much of the performance. Encila drew heavily from the UA and the Pima Community College pool to put together his talented cast.
Tickets cost $18 for the general population, and $15 for students and seniors. Studio Connections also has a "Thursday rush" from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., in which ticket prices drop to $15, or $10 for the students and seniors. The musical will not run on Easter weekend. --M.K.
Amy Irvine occupies a lot of different worlds. Her family is half-Mormon, half-not; half-ranchers, half-urbanites. She moved to Utah's San Juan County--what she calls "arguably the most anti-environmental county in the U.S."--to be an environmental activist. Her book, Trespass, chronicles her struggles through a series of personal tribulations--namely, her father's suicide and marital problems.
In a world where contemporary memoirs too often degenerate into self-involved navel gazing, Irvine only turns the lens inward in order to gain perspective on the world at large. Moving beyond what went wrong with her marriage and her father, Trespass trespasses into larger issues: the preservation of public lands, the spiritual efficacy of the bygone hunter-gather lifestyle, the origins of conflict and war, the duality of American culture, and the duality of everything.
"We live in such a dualistic culture," she says. "You live on one side of the fence or the other ... especially since Sept. 11 ... the book is an exploration of how one comes to live with these contradictions."
When asked how she came to live with the contradictions of her life, she laughs and says she's not sure she has. "We need to inhabit our contradictions. The answer is in ourselves," she says, as if realizing it for the first time. "Pointing the finger ... it failed. Meanwhile, the war goes on; test scores go down; we have no health care; and we have no answers."
Also at Antigone this week: Jason Brown will read from his new book, Why the Devil Chose New England for his Work, on Friday, Feb. 29. Both readings are free. --A.M.