Michelle Sciarrone said that when the cast and crew first read the script of her play Crossing Elliot, many thought she could have been writing about their own lives. In fact, anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship may find the play very familiar.
Crossing Elliot is about the long-distance relationship between New York-based Rikki and her Los Angeles-based boyfriend, Elliot. Rikki first meets Elliot, an up-and-coming writer, when she interns at her magazine's West Coast offices. When Rikki returns to New York, the power struggle begins.
"People can really relate to the characters," Sciarrone said.
Sciarrone, a creative-writing senior at the UA, began writing Crossing Elliot three years ago. She sought out guidance from visiting dramaturg Heather Helinsky and then rewrote the script.
"(It had the) same storyline, but I rewrote it structurally and technically," Sciarrone said. "From there, it took off."
While the characters and dialogue are realistic, the play has elements of surrealism. For example, the New York and Los Angeles sets are right next to each other on stage, separated only by an invisible line, Sciarrone said. The characters do not interact with each other, and instead communicate by cell phone.
Things get really difficult for the couple, and for the audience, when Rikki starts seeing somebody else.
"(Elliot) doesn't know it, but the audience can see them right there," Sciarrone said of Rikki and her new flame.
To find out whether Rikki and Elliot make it, see the play this weekend.
As for Sciarrone, she hopes to continue writing and producing, though she said the production process is stressful.
"I've never actually got to see my art from the audience perspective, so I'm just really looking forward to it," Sciarrone said. --C.C.
Santa Claus cynics out there: Have we got a play for you!
Rid your mind of the plump, congenial archetype of St. Nicholas, and embrace the more realistic, semi-deviant Santa Claus from The Eight Reindeer Monologues.
"The setup is that the audience has come to a media event, and there's a huge scandal," director Howard Allen said. "Santa may have crossed the line with Vixen."
Yes, Allen is referring to bestiality--well, sort of.
"The play isn't really about bestiality, because the reindeer are all really human," Allen said. "Dasher is a true believer; he's like Jack Nicholson (with) 'you can't handle the truth,' and Comet is a gangster girl who was saved by St. Nick. Cupid is an outrageously gay reindeer, but a very proud gay reindeer."
Confused? Don't be. The reindeer are all reindeer, but they talk like humans, walk like humans (on two legs) and tell their stories like humans. In fact, the only things that really distinguish them as reindeer are their reindeer ears, tails and infamous names.
"It's loaded with sexual politics and office politics ... but in this case, it's Santa's company at the North Pole, where things have gone really wrong," Allen said.
So if you're a believer in the cliché, "Out with the old and in with the new," Eight Reindeer Monologues may hit the spot for your holiday hunger.
Tickets range from $10 to $15. This play will be performed at various venues through Dec. 20. For tickets to the Hotel Congress show, go to www.hotelcongress.com/club/upcoming-shows; for the Studio Connections shows, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/48450. --M.N.
Michael Blake's journey through Southern Arizona happened on the back of a horse named Breeze.
Blake, author of Dances With Wolves, traveled on Breeze through our region for his new film, The American West: On the Road With Michael Blake, which, among other things, documents the history of Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military during the 1860s.
Blake wanted to produce the documentary to entertain, to show the public something about history and to make people think about how history relates to their lives.
"There's that old saying that if you don't learn about history and what went wrong, it will be repeated over and over again. The wars that started with the Apache are very similar to the war in Vietnam," Blake said. "The same thing in Iraq."
In this film, there are no talking heads in front of bookshelves explaining the past. Instead, Blake seeks to transport the audience to historical sites and show them where history took place.
Music is also an important backdrop to the film. Three musicians featured in the film--John Coinman, John Doe and Tony Gilkyson--will perform at the Tucson premiere.
Blake hopes the film will inspire people to visit these sites.
"The millions of people who are living down here, they're sitting right next to a place where American history changed," Blake said. "These sites, it's not like going to NASCAR or a football game, but they're so interesting and different."
This film is the first in a series that Blake is looking to produce that will visit historic Native American sites throughout the country.
"We're going to be traveling ... going to sites that most people have never been to," Blake said. "It gives the audience a chance, even if they never go there, to visit that place." --C.C.
According to Rafael Vega, program coordinator for Luz Social Services, Thanksgiving won't be the same for many people this year.
"The (economic) crisis has affected our community members, especially on the southside," Vega said. "They are scared they won't be able to have something for their family, whether it's Thanksgiving or the Christmas holiday."
That's why Luz Social Services is hosting its 11th annual Thanksgiving meal two days before the traditional Thursday Thanksgiving.
While Vega says the meal is meant primarily for Tucson's homeless population, he encourages others in the community to contribute to and attend the Thanksgiving celebration.
"Right now, we are looking for turkey donations," Vega said. "Anyone who is willing to donate a frozen turkey, and anyone who is willing to cook a turkey, it would be much appreciated."
In addition to the turkey meal, Luz Social Services has invited a number of organizations--including Planned Parenthood of Arizona, Wingspan, Pima Prevention Partnership and Native Images--for a resource fair.
"Our agency wants to provide the community with information in regards to health and financial issues," Vega said.
For those in need, Luz Social Services will be holding a free raffle that includes prizes such as food baskets, grocery-store gift cards and gasoline gift cards.
"With (those of) us who are able to provide for our families, we look forward to the holidays: a warm bed, a family we can turn to," Vega said. "With the homeless community, they look forward to something like this meal and raffle every year."
This event is free and open to all ages. --M.N.