PLAY DAY. From comedy to tragedy, stark realism to classic symbolism--Old Pueblo Playwrights has sifted through the submissions to present this year's best new plays written by southern Arizona authors. Eleven works premiere in this weekend's series of dramatic, "open book" readings, with audience members encouraged to participate in post-performance discussions with the authors. The festival opens tonight with Anna Maria's Journal, a full-length tale binding a transplanted, soon-to-be-wed couple to the fate of a ghost of an abandoned wife that inhabits the historic Tucson home they plan to restore.
Staged readings begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly through January 7, with a 2 o'clock Sunday matinee showcase, at the Tucson Center for the Performing Arts, 408 S. Sixth Ave. See Jana Rivera's article in the Review section for a schedule of readings and a brief synopsis of each of the works. Tickets are $5 per performance at the door, $3 for students, and $20 for the entire festival. Call 884-4877 for information.
HEAD UPSTAIRS. And if that isn't enough theatrical inspiration for you, check out the latest from Upstairs Theatre Company, Guilt and Long-Distance Phone Call, two short comedies written by Tempe playwright Michael Grady and directed by a veteran of Tucson theatre, Howard Allen, who says, "The first time I saw these shows, I laughed so hard I almost hurt myself." We're too polite to ask for details, but we're curious of the effects on the general public. Viewer discretion is advised for those of you recovering from an appendectomy.
Guilt, loosely translated, is a subconscious, homicidal interrogation (a turn of phrase which may work better as proverb than plot summary); while Long-Distance Phone Call involves two men visited by aliens and Elvis while working the phones at a crisis intervention hotline.
Performances continue at 8 p.m. through January 13, with a 2 o'clock matinee Sunday, January 7, upstairs in the Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theatre, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $7, $5 for students, available at the door. Call 791-2263 for information.
"It's like having a one-person orchestra," Anderson explains, "with more pipes meaning more potential for volume." Imagine one instrument accompanying a congregation 500 strong--that's some set of pipes. The organ's three divisions have been in the making for eight years, and they'll make their debut performance under the skillful hands of organist Dr. Paul-Martin Maki, a distinguished faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
The free, dedicatory recital on southern Arizona's newest, largest pipe organ begins at 7:30 p.m. at Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St., and will be followed by a reception and Twelfth Night Party in the Parish Hall. Call 327-6857 for information.
Downtown Saturday Night. There's a celebration of spoken word underway tonight in the city center, with poetry readings and tale spinning from 7 to 10 p.m. at Etherton Gallery, 135 S. Sixth Ave. Over at a.k.a. Theatre, 125 E. Congress St., Old Pueblo Playwrights squeezes "micro-plays and storytelling" into their weekend festival of dramatic works, with staged readings from 6 to 7:30 p.m., followed by a special performance by KXCI-FM's former Wordworks master, David Scott Penn. Storytelling continues until 10 p.m. Call 623-7852 for information on a.k.a. happenings. Tellers of Tales entertain from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Antigone Books' roomy new locale at 411 N. Fourth Ave.; and Anton Gannon, Gwen Ray, Martin Rivera and Mark Stevenson share poetry and prose from 7 to 9 p.m. at Bodhitree Gallery, 33 S. Fifth Ave. The usual platter of art openings, street performance, tastings and gawkings will be passed around the Arts District for your bipedal pleasure. Call 624-9977 for information.
CLAIM TO FLAME. You may have seen Anna Deavere Smith's "Fires in the Mirror" during the American Playhouse series on PBS; or maybe you heard it was runner-up for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize. But starting tonight, you can see this dynamic, award-winning human collage on stage and judge for yourself whether The New York Times was justified in calling it "the most compelling and sophisticated view of urban and class conflicts that one could hope to encounter." The play is the third in a strong start to Arizona Theatre Company's 1995-96 season, and visits Tucson as part of a touring project called On The Road: A Search for American Character.
Smith's compelling examination of the 1991 clash between blacks and Hasidic Jews living in the tension-filled community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, uses dialogue taken verbatim from the playwright's interviews with Jewish and black leaders, politicians, police and residents.
This evening's preview performance is at 8 o'clock at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets for tonight's performance are $19 and $21. Take advantage of the discounted $17 to $19 preview ticket on select evenings through January 11. Call 622-2823 for reservations; and 884-4877 for information only.
LAMPLIGHT SHINES. Tucson poet Charity Everitt directs this month's Lamplight Reading Series showcase, featuring original works by local poet and columnist J. Shakespeare Keith and Phoenix poet Virginia Chase Sutton, a finalist for the Walt Whitman Poetry Prize and last year's Tucson Poetry Festival winner. Languish in the cozy Red Room at The Grill, 100 E. Congress St. (next to Wig-O-Rama), and get in touch with the literary lounge lizard within. Readings start at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
WINTER STORYTELLING NIGHTS. It's a long drive down dark, deserted Highway 86, but if you're up for the adventure you'll be treated to a unique storytelling experience, as Tohono O'odham storytellers band together to share traditional tales in Storytelling for Empowerment, the second annual spoken-word event sponsored by Baboquivari Middle School's substance abuse prevention program. The two-and-a-half hour program starts at 6 tonight with evening performances continuing through Wednesday, January 10, in the Media Center at Baboquivari Middle School. Head west on Ajo Way to Highway 86, and watch for signs for the school. Call (520) 383-2620 for information.
TMA OR BUST. Being that Tuesdays are Get Into the Museum Free days, take advantage of the mild winter afternoon and visit the Tucson Museum of Art Historic Block, 140 N. Main Ave., where the newly re-opened Edward Nye Fish House (now inducted as the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art), houses Covering the West: The Best of Southwest Art Magazine, works by 64 cover artists. See Margaret Regan's Collage for details on this latest addition to the TMA cluster. A Gift of Vision, a recently acquired collection of works donated by the Small family, is on exhibit in the museum proper through February 12. Call 624-2333 for information. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
BROWN & BURNS. Paula Jean Brown has performed everywhere from Club Congress to the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival, joining forces with such divergent talents as the Go-Go's, Steve Wynn and Giant Sand. The versatile, soft-pop sensation steps out of the studio (where she's working on a new solo album) to team up with former bandmate Joey Burns (Giant Sand, Friends of Dean Martinez), who sets aside his trademark bass for an hour of folk tunes and acoustic guitar accompanied by Brown's mellifluous voice. Bring your lunch and surround yourself with vibrant art and music from noon to 1 p.m. at Dinnerware Artists' Cooperative Gallery, 135 E. Congress St. Admission is free. The nine-artist Dinnerware Members' Exhibition of mixed media paintings and three-dimensional works continues through January 27. Call 792-4503 for information.
STARS ON ICE. Get out from in front of that Not-So-Wide World of Sports thing on your television and experience the excitement live at the TCC Arena, 260 S. Church Ave., as the Stars on Ice celebrity ice-skating extravaganza comes to town for one performance only. Now in its seventh year as a dual artistic showcase and fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Stars on Ice includes founding cast members Scott Hamilton and Rosalynn Sumners, Olympic gold-medalists Ekaterina Gordeeva and Katarina Witt, Kristi Yamaguchi, silver medalist Paul Wylie and four-time world champion Kurt Browning. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $32.50, available at Dillard's and the TCC box office. Call 791-4266 for tickets and information; or skate over to www.starsonice.com/img/ for an online preview.
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