Tell Your Tale
Double O Story Slam
6:30 p.m. sign-up; 7:15 p.m. show, Monday, June 27
Fluxx Studio and Gallery, 414 E. Ninth St.
This is not your preschooler's story hour.
When Odyssey Storytelling and the Ocotillo Poetry Slam join forces for the first Double O Story Slam, there will be no rehearsal. Instead, ordinary Tucsonans will stand up and tell true stories from their lives off the cuff.
"It's really powerful to have people hear your stories," said Penelope Starr, founder and director of Odyssey Storytelling. "It's a creative outlet, but it's also sort of an empowering personal outlet."
Storytellers will compete to impress the audience by recounting the most compelling tale on the theme "In Heat: Surviving the Summer." The provocative title is meant to inspire people to take the theme in a creative direction, Starr said.
"What we encourage people to do is to interpret the theme broadly," she said.
Those who want to participate should arrive at 6:30 p.m. "If you're one of the first 10 people to show up, you'll be on the bill," Starr said.
Each story must last less than five minutes, in a tip of the hat to the slam format.
People who have never participated in a storytelling session or poetry slam are encouraged to sign up.
"(For) people who aren't public speakers, this is a pretty low-key way to practice," Starr said.
Starr hopes people of many ages and backgrounds will tell their stories. She said the diversity of a storytelling event is what makes it dynamic: Each story gives people a glimpse into the life of someone they normally might not speak to.
"It's a little bit of voyeurism, and a little bit of education, and it's a lot of fun," she said.
A $5 donation is suggested at the door, and refreshments will be served. —C.A.
Welcoming the Rains
El Dia de San Juan Fiesta
5 to 11 p.m., Friday, June 24
Mercado San Agustín, 100 S. Avenida del Convento
After almost 2 1/2 months without precipitation, it's time to start praying for rain.
What better way to bring in the monsoon than with a westside fiesta, complete with a parade, mariachi bands, arts and crafts, circus clowns, food and lots of free water?
The El Dia de San Juan Fiesta celebrates St. John the Baptist. As the legend goes, he answered the prayer of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, a Spanish conquistador who knelt by the Santa Cruz River and wished for rain five centuries ago.
The rain came on June 24. Since then, Tucsonans have celebrated the beginning of the monsoon season on that day, said Lillian Lopez-Grant, who co-founded the celebration 14 years ago.
The festivities begin with a religious procession and prayers. Then there will be a night of entertainment: Escaramuzas, a women's horse-riding group, will perform in traditional Mexican attire. Several mariachi groups will play, including Olga Flores with Mariachi Sonido de Mexico. Clowns from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus will do an act and give out toys and tickets to their upcoming show.
There will also be a cakewalk, a piñata and a zero-gravity machine.
"It'll be great for the youngsters," Lopez-Grant said.
This year, the city couldn't help fund the fiesta, so the Fiesta Committee is working with community partners like Circle K, Menlo Park and Mercado San Agustín to keep the tradition alive.
"There have been a lot of very generous people who have volunteered to help us out," said Lopez-Grant.
Unfortunately, Lopez-Grant said the monsoon does not always come on June 24.
"Sometimes the rain comes, and sometimes it doesn't," she said. "Sometimes it's a day or two late."
Admission and parking for the event are free. —C.A.
Five Decades of Stories
Himmel Park Library's 50th Anniversary
10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25
Himmel Park Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave.
Over 50 years, the Himmel Park Library has gone through five renovations—and at one point almost closed.
In 1973, Tucson Public Libraries planned to shutter the library in favor of a new location close to El Con Mall. But protests by residents and support from local officials prevented this from happening, according to the library's website.
It's that kind of community spirit that people from the Himmel Park Library will celebrate at its 50th anniversary party this Saturday. Sharla Darby, Himmel Park Library's branch manager, said that "it's the support of the community and the outstanding staff" that has helped the library thrive over the years.
The celebration will kick off with a story time for children as local authors Sunny Warner and Joan Sandin read from their work. Other event highlights include the sealing of a time capsule constructed by teens and filled with artifacts and stories from the community.
There will also be an "I Remember Himmel" oral-history booth open, where local teens will interview community members and record their memories about Himmel Park Library.
"It's an opportunity for the community to tell us stories," said Darby.
Stand-up comedian and Himmel Park Library employee Mike Sterner (an occasional Weekly contributor) will join Aaron Stielstra to perform a short comedy skit about the library and its history. After the comedy, be sure to stay and listen to the Shaky Bones Band.
Himmel Park will continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary even after this weekend's celebration.
"I'd encourage people if they can't come to the event to come to some of the other events happening the rest of the year," said Darby.
Admission is free. —A.L.
Hicks Is His Hero
The Wizards Have Landed
10:30 p.m., Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25
Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd.
The late Bill Hicks, known for his dark stand-up comedy, is the inspiration for Ryan Butler's new play, The Wizards Have Landed. Butler wrote the play and will star in the one-man show this Friday and Saturday at Etcetera, the late-night arm of Live Theatre Workshop.
The autobiographical play chronicles Hicks' influence on Butler through Butler's childhood in California up to his present-day life in Tucson.
"My life really isn't that distinct—I'm an everyman. So my biggest challenge was: How am I gonna shape the things in my life into a 60-minute show?" Butler said.
He overcame these difficulties by presenting scenarios that a lot of people could relate to—like grieving the death of a friend and skipping from job to job.
The play also comments on the dilemma of "the educated orphan," a phrase coined by Butler.
"Those of us with a humanities-based or arts-based education—we're screwed," he said. The play sympathizes with young adults who have master's degrees but work at places like record stores—because there's no place for them in the workaday world.
Butler's obsession with Hicks is another thread that's addressed.
"Everyone has an idol or icon who they've tried to emulate. For a while, you act like them, but you eventually grow out of that and mature into the person you're going to be," he said.
The play's heart and soul speaks for Etcetera's artistic mission.
"(Our) shows give voice to different aspects of society that don't generally get a lot of air space in commercial theater," said the play's director, Christopher Johnson.
No one younger than 16 is admitted. Tickets are $10, and reservations are a must. —A.L.