City Week

A Day of Dreams

"I Dream in Widescreen": UA Media Arts BFA Thesis Films Screening
7:30 p.m., Friday, May 16
Fox Tucson Theatre
17 W. Congress St.

At the end of every semester, the UA School of Media Arts takes the work of students in the selective Bachelor of Fine Arts program and shows the films to the public. And each year, it's an eclectic bunch of movies.

Jill Bean, the School of Media Arts' marketing specialist, lists an animation film, a personal documentary and even a zombie movie as among this year's batch.

One of the highlights, Bean says, is Randall French's Hunters. The film is a mockumentary that follows two hunters, one a kindergarten teacher, whose prey are the ghoulish monsters that kindergartners fear are lurking under their beds. French found inspiration for the film during his work in New York City for a reality-based production company.

If a mockumentary with an outlandish premise isn't your thing, how about a musical dealing with contemporary, polarized issues? Kim McGowan's Calles del Oro is just that. After a death on the border, two people connected to the victim are called in for questioning and express themselves through song.

These films and 10 others will appear at the Fox Tucson Theatre, the first time the venue has hosted the event.

"We're really excited about getting the word out, and we've outgrown the capacity at the Loft, so now we're trying to fill the Fox," Bean says.

After they're shown at the Fox, the films' destiny is unknown. In the past, some of the students' films have gone on to festivals across the country. Two years ago, a film by Jonathan Pulley went to the Sundance Film Festival.

The event is free. --M.K.

Guitar First

Michael Young Performs
7:30 p.m., Friday, May 16
Green Fire Music Collective
Tucson Fraternal Order of Police Lodge
3445 N. Dodge Blvd.

Michael Young discovered the guitar in his seventh-grade music class. He says the teacher heard him messing around on the guitar and made a big deal out of it. Young may have been unaware of his natural talent, but his teacher wasn't.

The teacher recommended music lessons to Young's mother, who came home a few days later with a cheap acoustic guitar. Young started plinking around on it right away--and hasn't quit since.

"I don't feel like I chose the guitar," says Young, who is 25 now. "It chose me. It was my first big interest."

While most songwriters consider the guitar secondary to their vocals and lyrics, Young is a guitarist first.

"Pretty much, I'm a guitar player who sings occasionally," he says. Young has played in bands before, but they weren't for him. He prefers the simplicity of playing solo. He says, "There's something charming and vulnerable and intimate about one guy with a guitar."

Young admits that instrumental music isn't terribly marketable, but people who are into it tend to be really devoted. Fans are drawn to his intricate finger-style guitar-playing. Young was introduced to finger-style guitar early on during his guitar lessons, but didn't take to it until much later, when he re-discovered it on his own.

Young's playing stands out compared to less-accomplished finger-style pickers who rely heavily on picking patterns. He plays the guitar like others play the piano, arranging independent baselines and melodies on different strings, trying to make "every note count for something." His songs aren't just songs--they're compositions.

The Green Fire Music Collective is putting on the show, and $10 gets you in. --A.M.

Lost Classic

Joy Williams Reading
8 P.M., Thursday, May 15
UA Poetry Center
1508 E. Helen St.

The Changeling, Joy Williams' second novel, met with less than favorable press when first released in 1978.

Though her debut, State of Grace, had been nominated for the National Book Award, The New York Times slammed her sophomore effort back in the days when such a thing, whether deserved or not, almost invariably spelled commercial and critical failure, says Kate Bernheimer, editor of Fairy Tale Review Press. The Changeling went largely unnoticed and quickly fell out of print.

Bernheimer describes the language of the book as "preternatural and supernatural ... but not overtly magical." She says the surrealist prose was ahead of its time: "Every time I read it, it kind of destroys me in some beautiful way. Sometimes, those (types of) books astound people so much, they can't accept them."

Bernheimer has made it her mission to get the novel the recognition she believes it should have gotten upon its original release. To coincide with the 30th anniversary of the book, Bernheimer is re-releasing The Changeling.

"The time is right," Bernheimer says.

Perhaps she's correct. In the last 30 years, the literary community has become more accepting of so-called "magical realism," and more importantly, Williams has continued to prove herself as a master writer. Her most recent novel, The Quick and the Dead, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters this month.

"People are finally starting to rally around her work in the way they ought to have for the last 30 years," says Bernheimer.

Tucson author Lydia Millet will open the free reading--happening on the day this paper officially hits the streets. Williams will close with an excerpt from The Changeling. --A.M.

Beauty and Ugly

Terrence McNally's 'Sweet Eros'
10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, through May 31
Live Theatre Workshop
5317 E. Speedway Blvd.

For two years, Christopher Johnson has waited to portray the Young Man in Terrence McNally's Sweet Eros. Now that he's getting the opportunity, he describes it as "the most disgusting thing I've ever done in my life."

Throughout the 60-minute play, Johnson molests and belittles his female co-star, Miranda McBride, who plays the kidnapped and usually nude Young Woman.

What disgusted Johnson was the realization that he's capable of doing these things--that he could conjure up a warped desire to commit violent sexual acts.

"People passing through during some of the rehearsals have been uncomfortable," he says. "But they're still intrigued."

Johnson's interest in the story was piqued because of the human emotions and desires that the characters display. The play is about a young man whose failed relationships with women lead him to kidnap a young woman, with the hope of molding her into the ideal companion.

To properly convey the array of emotions in a kidnapping scenario, Johnson and director Danielle Dryer looked to Dryer's partner, McBride, to fill the role.

"We needed someone who would trust me with their physical and sexual safety," Johnson says.

In turn, Johnson trusts McBride, even to the point of letting her kick him in the stomach if she feels the need after being released. This is all in the hope of illustrating a story that touches on a standard dichotomy.

"It's that dichotomy of beauty and ugly that is so gorgeous," Johnson says.

Tickets cost $8 to $11. --M.K.

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