City Week

To Spark Debate

"Richard Miller: Why Do We Want Church-State Separation?"

9 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 16

DuVal Auditorium, University of Arizona Medical Center

1501 N. Campbell Ave.


The separation of church and state—or the lack thereof—has been at the center of countless debates. There are people who want religion to have a say in our laws, and there are people who want the two strictly segregated—such as members of Free Thought Arizona.

"Once religion comes into play, affecting our Legislature, it is something we can't accept," said Jerry Karches, one of the group's founders. "Lawmakers are using the Bible to dominate the legislative process on birth control and abortion, and these things do not make sense to us."

Free Thought Arizona originated in 2004. Since then, the group has been fighting to keep politics secular. Members rely on science for guidance.

The organization hosts events and lectures that are open to people interested in learning about the group's ideals. In Sunday's lecture, Richard Miller, vice president of the Phoenix chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will explain the reasons why church and state are like water and oil. He also will discuss what the Constitution says about religion, and speak about the Bill of Rights and the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which states that the U.S. is not "in any sense" founded on Christianity.

Miller is an advocate for many secularist organizations and a board member of the Phoenix chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

"What will be presented at the lecture will, hopefully, motivate people to also be interested in the separation of church and state," Karches said.

The first 200 attendees will receive a free pocket copy of the Constitution to commemorate Constitution Day on Sept. 17.

The lecture is free, but donations will be accepted. —I.T.

Buggin' Out

Arizona Insect Festival 2012

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15

UA Student Union Grand Ballroom,

1303 E. University Blvd., Third Floor

Are cockroaches cuddly?

You can find the answer to that question and many others that may have been bugging you at the Arizona Insect Festival. The exposition is put on by the University of Arizona Department of Entomology, with help from the UA's Center for Insect Science and the UA Insect Collection.

"This is not so much about science as (it is) about helping people get beyond these emotional brick walls they have," said Kathleen Walker, an assistant professor in the Entomology Department and coordinator of this year's festival.

According to Walker, it's the parents, not the kids, who are usually afraid of the critters on display.

More than 20 booths will staffed to allow people the opportunity to inspect live bugs and interact with them.

A popular aspect of the event is the ability to hold many of the creatures, including the massive Hercules beetle, millipedes, Manduca caterpillars and horse lubber grasshoppers.

The festival provides several avenues for enjoying insects. Foodies can sample waxworm-larvae tacos. Walker describes the larvae as "nice, juicy little things"—no different than shrimp. Dessert is a chocolate-chip cookie, with a cricket crunch.

Sports enthusiasts can cheer on their favorite candidate in a race of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and the artistically inclined can visit the illustration booth to view insects through a microscope and then try their hand at sketching insect portraits.

Both bug-lovers and people who haven't gotten over their childhood bug traumas are encouraged to attend.

"This is not Fear Factor. Everyone has to find their level of comfort," Walker said. "Maybe you want to start with a butterfly and maybe stay away from the sting table."

Admission is free. —M.D.

For Those With a Fetish for Mystery ...

Festival Repertory Theatre's Veronica's Room

7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m., Sunday, through Sept. 30

Cabaret Theater

Temple of Music and Art

330 S. Scott Ave.


When Veronica's Room debuted on Broadway in 1973, Adele Furman was among those who saw the play in its opening week. As she sat in the theater, she was gripped by the plot and the performances.

Now, almost 40 years after its opening, Furman has the opportunity to share the classic play with Tucson.

Veronica's Room was written by Ira Levin, the author of Rosemary's Baby. It is a mystery thriller that mixes reality with the unknown. Without giving too much away: It depicts a young couple's misfortune after an older couple—a couple they do not know—invites the young couple into their home.

"These four people are caught up in an unexpected and dramatic story," said Furman, who is producing and directing the play. "I don't want to say much about it, but audiences will have a very exciting experience."

The play is presented by the Festival Repertory Theatre, Furman's theater company. Furman had been eager to bring the play to Tucson, but was waiting for the right time and the right actors.

This is the second time Furman has had the opportunity to direct and produce Veronica's Room. In 1976, she directed it for a theatrical group in Monticello, N.Y. "The audience's reaction was amazing to me," Furman said. "Nobody clapped for about 30 seconds, and then they went wild."

The thriller stars Elin Brown and David Zinke as the older couple, and Whitney Morton and Michael Gifford as the younger couple.

Furman said that after they have seen it, playgoers will have a new perspective on the advice to "never talk to strangers."

Tickets are $18, or $15 for seniors. —I.T.

An Evening With the Pops

Tucson Pops Orchestra: Music Under the Stars

7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 16 and 23

DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center

Reid Park, 1100 S. Randolph Way


Much joy can come from being outdoors while surrounded by the sounds of a talented orchestra—and it makes the musicians feel good, too.

László Veres said that bringing a smile to someone's face through the music he conducts is one of his most rewarding experiences. Veres is musical director of the Tucson Pops Orchestra, whose Music Under the Stars series has been bringing pleasure to Tucsonans since 1955. For 57 years, residents have been invited to come to Reid Park, set up a picnic and listen to the orchestra perform.

"There is nothing like being onstage experiencing the sound of the orchestra," said Veres, who has conducted the orchestra for about 16 years. "It is magnificent, and I am lucky to be a part of it."

The fall 2012 season of Music Under the Stars will feature everything from classical music to marches. The lineup will be "very varied," Veres said. "We will play music from Broadway (and) light classical music. (We will) feature soloists and also play some popular music," he said.

During the first performance, last Sunday, Sept. 9, one of the pieces performed was "Hollywood Blockbusters" by James Horner, which highlights music from movies such as Apollo 13. This Sunday, Sept. 16, will feature Johannes Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello performed by David and Steven Brubaker. The concluding evening, Sept. 23, will include "Star Trek Through the Years" by Calvin Custer, and the allegretto from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

"I owe it to the community to bring joy into their lives during the 2 1/2 hours or so of the concert," Veres said. "I'm grateful to make them happy presenting them with music."

The event is free. —I.T.

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