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Creative Engagement

Active Imagination Theatre's Spaced Out

Noon, Saturday and Sunday, through Feb. 6

Beowulf Alley Theatre

11 S. Sixth Ave.

882-0555;

www.beowulfalley.org/html/active_imagination_theatre.html

Following the recent shooting tragedy, many Tucsonans are left imagining a better reality.

The Active Imagination Theatre offers children a chance to do just that, through improvisational theatrical performances.

The newest show, Spaced Out, is dedicated to shooting victim Christina-Taylor Green.

Beth Dell, the managing director of Beowulf Alley Theatre Company, spoke passionately about play and the importance of challenging kids imaginatively in such emotional times.

"We want to move on from the horrible events that just passed and focus on the children and giving them hope," Dell said. "We plan on announcing before each show that we love our children and that we want them to keep their innocence as long as they possibly can, and that we hope Christina is looking down on us and enjoying the show."

Spaced Out, ideal for kids ages 4 to 10, features a futuristic space crew that must utilize a time machine to discover why the Earth was destroyed while they were gone—with audience involvement and suggestions allowing for improvisational acting and on-the-spot plot twists.

Dell is a firm believer in the idea that engaging children creatively, especially in social settings, can make all the difference in their future. Disguised in play, the Active Imagination Theatre hopes to teach children fundamental problem-solving skills that are crucial to their development.

The theater is eagerly awaiting a response from Green's elementary school; Beowulf has offered a free performance for the students when and if the school is ready.

"It's the least we can do," Dell said.

Admission is $5 for kids ages 4 to 11, and $7 for people 12 and older (or $5 if purchased in advance online). Kids 3 and younger get free admission if they sit in a parent's lap. —T.K.


Laid Out on the Track

Tucson Roller Derby: Copper Queens vs. Bad News Beaters and VICE Squad vs. Whiskey Row-llers

6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 29

Tucson Convention Center

260 S. Church Ave.

390-1454

Some people have speculated about the legitimacy of the sport of roller derby. But according to the girls who live and breathe derby, nothing is choreographed—and, yes, the hits really are as hard as they seem.

"We draw in all walks of life," said Chase Spanks, the Tucson Roller Derby communications and marketing manager. "We've got very eclectic crowds, and as for the skaters, we have everything from housewives to lawyers."

Competing for Arizona's first roller-derby state-conference championship, teams from all over the state are looking to come out strong in this pivotal part of the season.

According to Spanks, high energy, big hits and broken bones are all par for the course. She assures us: "This is definitely no game of golf."

On Saturday, the Tucson Convention Center will host a doubleheader, and the Tucson Roller Derby invites audiences of all ages to share in the excitement.

Derby is an all-woman, full-contact sport with two teams of 14, and a flat track. Spanks said that anyone can enjoy the fast-paced action, because "derby love," as she put it, is what it's all about.

"Derby brings out some of the best, nicest people, but maybe that's because we're lucky and get to take out all of our frustrations on the track," she said.

Even if you're not one of the women lacing up her skates, perhaps the twisted satisfaction of seeing someone laid out on the track will bring a smile to your face.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and skating starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. —T.K.


Everyday Absurdities

Paula Wittner: Paintings

Reception: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 28

On display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and before Arizona Theatre Company performances, through Tuesday, Feb. 22

Temple Gallery Temple of Music and Art

330 S. Scott Ave.

624-7370;

website

Paula Wittner "wants people to find their own stories in her art," according to Etherton Gallery's Daphne Srinivasan.

Etherton Gallery is known for its shows featuring artists from around the world, but the Temple Gallery, which is operated by Etherton Gallery, features local artists like Wittner.

Wittner has shown at the Temple Gallery before—to great success, according to Srinivasan. She explains that Wittner's work is unique due to her talent for expressing basic, universal stories with deep meanings in her paintings.

"The other thing that really characterizes her art is her learning from other great artists," she said. "(Her work) is not reminiscent of one other painter, but you can pick things out. For example, she uses light like (Jan) Vermeer."

The allusions to the 17th-century Dutch painter are especially apparent in "The Party's Over," according to Srinivasan. The painting's subject is older and sitting in front of a warm background; her aloneness highlights manifestations of frustration about aging.

Although some works made their unofficial debut at the Temple Gallery last week, the exhibition truly opens with Friday's reception of Wittner's paintings, including her new Tarot series.

Many figures in the Tarot paintings are rooted in Tarot-card imagery. Tarot-card readings will be available to those who attend its opening reception.

"She has a very unique perspective on the world," Srinivasan said about Wittner. "You have to go back and take a second look at her works. They are simple and universal stories, but she uses such social concern ... by illuminating the absurdities of everyday life."

Admission is free. —J.W.


Theater Themes + Live Tunes

Amber Norgaard in concert

7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 30

Beowulf Alley Theatre

11 S. Sixth Ave.

882-0555;

www.beowulfalley.org

Why is local country-rock-folk artist Amber Norgaard performing on a stage usually dedicated to plays? Because Beowulf Alley Theatre Company wants to "bring theater and music to the whole community instead of just bars and taverns," said Shelton Metz, director and set designer at the theater.

On Sunday, Norgaard and her four-piece band will perform on the set of Beowulf's latest play, Sarah Ruhl's version of Eurydice. (Read more about the play on Page 30.)

This is the first installment of the theater's new concert series, "Concerts in the Alley," where fans can experience live music without sticky bar stools and big crowds, according to Metz. Metz said his vision for the series is to combine theater themes—like sets and audience connection—with Tucson's music scene.

Metz said that after seeing Norgaard perform at La Encantada last August, he knew she'd be a perfect fit for the new concert series.

"When you watch Amber, it's like watching her in your own living room," he said. "She's that warm. There's no phoniness. She's just real."

A nurse-turned-musician who states that "art is healing," Norgaard focuses on the human condition in her music.

"It's got rock; it's got country; it's got folk; and it's got ballads," Norgaard said. "It's a mix of everything I've heard since I've been on Earth."

The prospect of "an evening of music and stories and community" in Beowulf's 95-seat theater thrills Norgaard, she said.

"Any form of art is about people feeling like we are not alone in this world, and that's what I try to do in my music," she said.

Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door. —J.W.

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