Category Archives: writing

Silly old bear

Silly old bear. It’s one of my favorite lines from A.A. Milne tales of the little boy named Christopher Robin whose fluffy companions include a bear called Winnie the Pooh. I’ve got Pooh on the brain today after reflecting a bit more on the transition to a new blog site. I’m remembering my early days with our oldest son Christopher, whose room as a toddler was decorated with all things primary colors and Pooh.

Christopher has been a part of our lives for more than two decades, and I’ve been affiliated with Raising Arizona Kids for nearly that long — joining the staff when my three children were still small enough to read Winnie the Pooh tales in lap mode. They’re all in college now, so the nature of our relationships is evolving. Still, this will always be their home.

That’s how I feel about Raising Arizona Kids. Folks concerned that my new adventures mean their stories won’t get shared with RAK audiences needn’t fret. I’m continuing to cover Arizona arts and culture for the magazine, but in online article rather than blog mode. Also continuing to write an arts page for each month’s print magazine. Your stories are no less near and dear to me now than they were some 1,250 + posts ago when I started blogging.

Like all artists, writers need to explore and grow. We need fresh eyes on new landscapes. I never worry, when seeing associate artists for Childsplay direct or act in other settings, that their love for Childsplay is diminished in any way. I suspect their diverse adventures fuel both their individual creativity and work together as an ensemble. That’s how I feel about both writing for RAK and doing my own “Stage Mom Musings” thing.

Similarly, our children’s college adventures don’t mean they love us any less. It’s just that there are more paths for them to travel. And that’s as it should be. I fully expect that the road back home will stay well trodden. And so it is for my relationship with Raising Arizona Kids. I’ll be sharing arts adventures both there and here, which’ll help me champion Arizona arts both locally and beyond our borders.

I hope you’ll follow along on my road trip. Covering Arizona arts and culture — and those who nurture and create it — continues to be my great joy and privilege. So no worries, silly old bear.

– Lynn

Note: Please send arts and culture news my way at stagemommusings@gmail.com. That’ll get your events and programs on both my RAK and Stage Mom Musings radar. Once RAK recovers from flood mode, we’ll get old “Stage Mom” posts moved over to the “Stage Mom Musings” site at www.stagemommusings.com, where new posts appear each day.

Fertile field, empty nest

Soon I'll be taking flight with new "Stage Mom Musings" adventures

I planted a seed some 1,000 + posts ago, eager to share my love for theater with fellow parents. You could say that Raising Arizona Kids was the soil. It’s been a fertile field for parents to grow, nurture and share experiences for more than two decades. The “Stage Mom” blog has thrived there, growing into a tree of sorts with branches reaching far beyond the Valley of the Sun. I’m grateful for the roots that’ve made the next part of the “Stage Mom” journey possible.

Soon I’ll be leaving the nest to take “Stage Mom” solo, though I know I’ll never really have to fly alone. I’ll still be part of the Raising Arizona Kids family, continuing to write features for the magazine that gave my writing wings and nurtured its growth through the years. My first Raising Arizona Kids article was published in a birthday party issue – something about a Beanie Baby party for daughter Jennifer. Back then, all I knew of writing was “write what you know.”

Karen Barr – the magazine’s founder, publisher and editor – has been a mentor throughout my writing journey, and is incredibly supportive even now as I’m preparing to leave the nest. Much of what I know about writing came from years of “on the job” training with Karen and fellow writers in the RAK family. My writing for RAK has garnered both national and state awards, and I’m grateful for the magazine’s role in helping me find and share my voice about matters great and small.

Most recently, “Stage Mom” earned two Arizona Press Club Awards in the non-metro category – second place for arts criticism and first place for features blog. RAK writers earned an additional six awards. I’ll never stop learning from RAK, but other projects now beckon – including a book about dance that I hope will be the first of several guides to introducing children and teens to the arts. I’ve got an amazing partner for the dance book, and will be sharing more news on that front in coming weeks.

For now, I’m busy making a new home for the writer formerly known as “Stage Mom.” Think Twitter, Facebook, blog and beyond. Watching me wrestle the world of widgets should prove plenty entertaining. Cyberspace is filled with stage moms, so you’ll find me using the “Stage Mom Musings” handle. It seemed the best moniker given my tendency to muse, and I hope you’ll follow me for news of “Stage Mom Musings” developments and future arts adventures.

I’ll continue to cover the Arizona arts and culture that’s so near and dear to my heart, and hope you’ll all stay in touch about your own arts offerings and adventures. Folks who follow @stagemommusings on Twitter will be the first to know as I unroll the new blog.

I’m genuinely grateful for everyone whose support for “Stage Mom” has made the start of this journey possible. Thanks for reading the work, for sharing your own experiences with arts and culture, for making your own contributions to the arts scene in Arizona and beyond. The world is a better place with art, and I’m looking forward to many more years of telling her stories.

– Lynn

Note: Once the new site is up and running, we’ll transfer all “Stage Mom” posts to the new blog — and many will also continue to be available through RAK’s online archives. Please continue to share your news about Arizona arts and culture with me at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Once upon a widget

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience while the tech fairies work to move my 1,250 + posts to their new home. For the latest news follow me @stagemommusings on Twitter.

Fun finds for Father’s Day

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Folks eager to find unique gifts and experiences for celebrating Father’s Day need look no farther than local arts and culture. Museums make for fun family outings, and many have gift shops filled with fascinating fare making gifts like striped ties look purely passé.

Got a dad who’s into science? Hit your local science center. Got a dad who’s into art? Treat him to time at your local art gallery or museum. Got a dad who’s into history? Take him along for some time at the nearest history museum. And remember all those neighborhood arts districts with funky fare it’s hard to find elsewhere.

Military dads and their families can enjoy free admission to museums that participate in the Blue Star Museums program. Most museums participate from Memorial Day through Veterans Day — but some offer free year-round admission (with specified I.D.s) to active military personnel and up to five family members.

For dads who enjoy making art, consider taking a Father’s Day walk together in search of found objects for future art projects. Or looking around the house for boxes and other recyclable objects you can turn into forts, musical instruments and works of art. Or get dad a gift certificate to your favorite small business featuring art supplies or classes.

Remember studios in your community that offer hands-on arts experiences like painting pottery, folding origami, recreating famous art masterpieces and such. Check your local libraries, independent book shops,community centers and parks and recreation facilities for activities of special interest to fathers and families.

Also theater companies that offer family-friendly fare — plus performing arts venues that offer fun film, music, dance, poetry and other options. You’ll never know whether the dad in your life is hot for hip hop until you give it a try together.

– Lynn

Note: I’ll be updating this post with more photos as I discover more Father’s Day fare

Coming up: Art meets wild west, Getting to know Jimmy

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12

Art camps for at-risk youth

Tatiana (L) and Michael at Free Arts of Arizona’s 2011 Multicultural Arts Camp

Chicano arts. Native American arts. African drumming. Latin dance. And spoken word. They’re all part of this year’s Multicultural Arts Camp presented by Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, which “uses artistic expression and creativity to heal abused and homeless children across the Valley.”

This year’s camp will serve 125 abused, homeless or at-risk youth, who’ll rotate through five workshops focused on multicultural and multidisciplinary arts as well as team-building activities. All are led by professional teaching artists — including Frank Thompson, Melanie Sainz, Christa Iceforest, Myrlin Hepworth and Misha Pemberton.

“Artists and workshops are purposefully chosen so that campers can experience arts from various cultures as well as various mediums,” according to Barbara DuVal Fenster, executive director for Free Arts. Think dance, music, visual arts and creative writing.

Two camp sessions are taking place at Desiderata Alternative High School in Phoenix. Both include breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. This week’s camp, for 14-17 year olds, concludes with a June 8 showcase. Next week’s camp, for 9-13 year olds, wraps up with a showcase on June 15.

Pam Chu with campers during Free Arts’ 2011 Multicultural Arts Camp

“In addition to our artists and volunteers, we invite a few teens from the first session to serve as volunteers for the second session,” says Fenster. “For them,” she says, “it is a chance to move from camper to leader.” For the folks at Free Arts, it’s “an opportunity to watch young people grow, mature and build their self-esteem.”

Since 2001, the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix has worked with Free Arts to “heal young lives through the performing arts” by giving teens from group homes, shelters and treatment facilities throughout Maricopa County “the opportunity to create and experience the arts” through a two-week theater camp at the Herberger Theater Center.

During this year’s Summer Theater Camp, guest artists and volunteers will help children explore improvisation, character development, mask making, costumes, props and the technical side of theater production — then guide them in creating a production they’ll share during a final performance at the Herberger (Fri, June 29 at 7pm) that’s free and open to the public.

– Lynn

Note: A restaurant called Hula’s Modern Tiki, located at 4700 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix, is donating 10 percent of proceeds every Monday in July to Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona.

Coming up: Feeling like a million bucks

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12

Art meets veterans

Abstract Rant. A Bird Knows No Barbed Wire. Dear Simon. We Are Not Your Heroes. Ghost Limb. Iraqi Kids 2003. Living Without Nikki. You Are Not My Enemy. Real Vet Fake Vet. A Trip to the Zoo. That Damn Truck. War Is Not a Video Game.

All are works of art created through Warrior Writers, a Philadelphia-based organization with members and activities in several states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachussetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Warrior Writers is dedicated to creating “visibility for veteran artists and their work” while “telling the truths about veterans experiences.”

This collection features poetry, prose, photograpy and illustrations by Afghanistran and Iraq veterans and war resisters

The organization describes itself as “a community of military veterans, service members, artists, allies, civilians, and healers dedicated to creativity and wellness.” They embrace art making as a creative tool for understanding and transcending “experiences of trauma and emotional disruptions” — and consider art a language essential to bridging “the gap between veterans and civilians.”

Today I’m setting aside time to explore a collection of their works online, which includes about 100 pieces of poetry and creative writing, plus dozens of videos and poetry readings. Also several works of visual art and music. They’re working now to bring folks together for the creation of a wall mural in Philadephia, and folks in Chicago can see their works (and others) exhibited at the National Veterans Art Museum.

The most recent of three Warrior Writers books you can order online

The Warrior Writers website, an official honoree of the 2010 Webby Awards, is a great resource for veterans eager to learn more about self-expression through the arts. Opportunities currently listed include the 25th Annual Writing Workshop sponsored by the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, and The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans.

Warrior Writers shares creative works with the public through books, performances and exhibitions that provide “opportunities for the broader public to better understand veterans’ experiences.” Three Warrior Writers books featuring works by post 9/11 veterans are currently available online — “Move, Shoot and Communicate,” “Re-Making Sense” and “After Action Review: A Collection of Writing and Artwork by Veterans of the Global War on Terror.”

Click here to learn more about their work and ways you can get involved. Today and every day — remember, reflect and never take our many freedoms for granted. Vote, participate and pay heed to the voices of diverse veterans, military personnel and family members who’ve made sacrifices the rest of us can scarcely begin to imagine.

– Lynn

Coming up: Arizona honors young artists, Summer concert fare, Prescott art adventures

Hale Centre Theatre performs “Mockingbird”

L to R: Zoe Zamora (Scout Finch), Rob Stuart (Atticus Finch) and Dale Mortensen (Jeremy “Jem” Finch) perform in “To Kill a Mockingbird” through June 30 at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert

I headed out to Gilbert Saturday for a matinee performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is being presented by Hale Centre Theatre through June 30. It’s directed by D. Scott Withers and stars Rob Stuart as Southern gentleman and lawyer Atticus Finch, who’s charged with defending a black man accused by a white woman of rape.

The setting is Maycomb, Alabama during 1935. Hale’s production is a Christopher Sergel adaptation of the Harper Lee novel published in 1960. The cast includes three young actors — Casey Pettyjohn (Dill), Dale Mortensen (Jeremy “Jem” Finch) and Zoe Zamora (Scout Finch). Each did a terrific job.

There’s much to love about the Hale Centre Theatre experience. The theater is located near several great eateries and arts destinations — and there’s a park across the street where children can run off steam. Hale also has a children’s theater, which presents “Rapunzel” through June 30.

The day I attended, the vibe was warm and friendly. There’s a concessions area with an old-time feel, and the fellow who staffed it Saturday wheeled a two-level cart onto center stage during intermission for folks who wanted a water or candy fix without moving far from their seats. The same spot was raffle central before the show started.

Four sections of seats surround a center stage at Hale Centre Theatre, and three small balconies serve as extended portions of the set. Actors sometimes enter and exit the stage from these areas, which is especially fun for folks who like to see them up close. For much of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a central set piece is a tire swing suspended from exposed beams above.

Before “To Kill a Mockingbird” began, David Dietlein (half of the owner/producer team that includes his wife Corrin Dietlein) unveiled the theater’s 2012-2013, noting that they’re honoring requests for more musicals by doubling their musical theater offerings. Think “The Secret Garden,” “Annie,” “Forever Plaid,” “South Pacific,” “Damn Yankees” and “Hairspray.”

They’ll perform “The Price of Freedom,” a musical tibute “dedicated to those who served in World War II and the loved ones they left behind” during Sept/Oct and the holiday musical “A Christmas Carol” during late Nov/Dec. Comedies for 2012-2013 include “The Hit” (an Arizona premiere by Mike Buckley), “The 39 Steps” and “The Man With The Pointed Toes” (billed by Hale as its “most popular show ever”).

Dietlein noted that folks who buy tickets for ten shows will save $10 per show, and that tickets for patrons ages 6 to 18 are always $10 each. I learned after the show, while talking with actors who greet folks via reception line in the lobby, that students from Mesa Preparatory Academy were in the audience on Saturday — having read the novel to prepare for seeing the work.

Parents who take children to see the show should be ready for questions about mature content, including references to rape and use of what we’ve come to call “the N-word.” Both have been cited by folks who’ve sought to ban Lee’s book, and folks eager to learn more about that fight can find resources through Banned Book Week, taking place Sept 30-Oct 6 this year.

I checked the interest level of various teens in the audience several times during Saturday’s performance. Many leaned forward, showing more interest in the play, during the courtroom scene that dominates the play’s second act. This was clearly the most compelling part of the production, and the most humorous piece as well.

Parents and teachers interested in learning more about Harper Lee and “To Kill a Mockingbird” can read the Utah Shakespeare Festival study guide and consult several PBS pieces available online. Click here for details on upcoming Hale Centre Theatre productions.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to read about a recent screening of the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the White House. Click here to learn about the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 51st season, which includes “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Coming up: Art meets Father’s Day, The secret life of paper

Musings on “Mockingbird”

We see what we look for, hear what we listen for. It’s one of many messages conveyed by Harper Lee in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published the year I was born and dubbed one of the great American novels. Harper’s writing is highly praised, as is her treatment of racial injustice in the American South. Central to the book, adapted for both screen and stage, is the trial of a black man accused of rape who’s defended in court by a white lawyer.

My only experience on the receiving end of racism was during ninth grade, when I lived in Hawaii and was one of just a few “haoles” at my school. I remember noticing that teachers never called on us, even when our hands were raised and we’d come to class eager to participate. Others have experienced far greater injustices caused by bigotry based on skin color.

But our family has lived for years with another type of discrimination, made more painful by the fact that few people even acknowledge its existence. We have a family member with mental illness, but there’s little public outrage when people ridicule such things. For all our progress as a society in championing the rights of LGBT individuals and raising awareness about families affected by autism, we’ve yet to truly see the 1 in 5 people in our midst who live with depression or other mental health conditions.

So I see in “To Kill a Mockingbird” both the tale of a black man falsely accused, and the tale of another man judged too quickly — the character called “Boo” who lives holed up in his house isolated from neighbors who ridicule him for being what they consider crazy. While I acknowlege the power of Lee’s book to heighten our awareness of racial injustice even as it occurs today, I see in her work something more.

The danger in drawing assumptions about anyone. Those with mental illness. Women. Children. White men. Lawyers. Those who commit crimes. Even novelists like Lee who choose to live a quiet existence outside of the public eye. I was reminded of all this today while watching a local theater company production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which affirmed what many have surmised. That the story is just as relevant now as it was when Harper wrote it. See it. Hear it. And act on it.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to read the “1 in 5″ report from SAMHSA

Coming up: Remembering Anne Frank,  Veterans who write

Broadway meets breast cancer

After enjoying a little nap one afternoon, our daughter Lizabeth shared some suprising news. The cat, who’s taken to sleeping atop her baby blue blanket, snores. Seems no lullabies are required when you’re a fluffy feline. But babies of the human variety sometimes need a little help in the sleep department. It’s Broadway to the rescue with a new collection of tunes called “Over the Moon,” which features lovely lullaby fare that’s soothing for the little ones and plenty enjoyable for the grown-ups who love them.

The tall white bookshelves in Lizabeth’s room are filled with play scripts, mementos of dance and theater days, and CDs featuring Broadway cast recordings she grew up listening to by day and night. Ask about her favorite “lullabies” and she’ll recount songs from beloved Broadway productions. I’m pretty sure she fell asleep to “Next to Normal” almost every night during high school. Seems showtunes and good writing can make just about anything more bearable.

A newly-released book and CD set called “Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project” benefits breast cancer research (Photo courtesy of Easton Studio Press)

So I was delighted to discover that “Over the Moon” includes “First Sonogram” featuring music by Tom Kitt. Other selections include “It Takes All Kinds” (with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), “I Love You” (with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) and “Lucky” (with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz). The names are plenty familiar to folks who’ve seen “Avenue Q,” “Into the Woods” or “Wicked.” The book is designed by Barbara Aronica-Buck, and music on the CD is produced by Matt Pierson.

The double CD, which features 26 songs, is actually titled “Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project.” A companion hard-cover book with the same name features lyrics and illustrations for 17 of the lullabies, and soon there’ll be a documentary recounting their creation as part of a collaborative effort to move the fight against breast cancer forward. Notes at the back of the book share bios for “Over the Moon” participants, many including thoughts about ways breast cancer has touched the contributors’ own lives.

A trio of Gluckmans (10-year-old Tillie and 8-year-olds Keegan and Zi) make their recording debut with “The Man Who Invented Ice Cream” by Charles Strouse and Sammy Cahn — dedicating it to “their Bubbe and Gama, both breast cancer survivors; their Aunt Linda, a breast cancer surgeon; and their Great Grandmother Tillie, who lost her battle with the disease before they could ever meet her.” Other vocalists include Brain d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster, Stephanie Bast, Raul Esparza, Nikki M. James and many more.

Listen with your baby or just enjoy in bubble bath mode

The collection is sweet, soothing and sentimental. Also filled with humor and delightful musical interludes featuring everything from piano and guitar to cello and accordian. Buy it for your baby if you have one. But try it with a bubble bath if you don’t, because there’s plenty for wistful parents of older children to enjoy in its nods to nostalgia and all things growing up together. Get the book too so you can enjoy the forward written by mother-daughter writing team Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton.

Also illustrations by a diverse gathering of exceptional artists. Think R. Gregorie Christie, who’s been commissioned by the MTA “Arts in Transit” program in NYC to create an image for display in subway cars. Neil Waldman, whose work was chosen for a United Nations “International Year of Peace” poster. Gary Zamschick, whose work has been exhibited at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Also Beowulf Boritt, set designer for “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Rock of Ages” and more. Cover design is by Jules Feiffer, who illustrated “The Phantom Tollbooth” plus a recent work by daughter Kate Feiffer called “No Go Sleep.”

The book’s most inspiring pages feature a pair of prefaces by women whose lives have been forever changed by breast cancer. Jodi Gluckman writes of stirring cookie batter with her grandmother, grateful for time shared before cancer took her grandmother’s life. Kate Dawson writes of her cousin Jill, who lost her life to cancer while still a young mother. Dawson learned, after conceiving the “Over the Moon” project and bringing it to life with Gluckman, that Jill’s favorite gift to new mothers was a CD of lullabies. Remember these women, and remarkable women in your own life, as you listen to “Over the Moon” with your little ones. Time is fleeting, and music helps us remember just how much each moment matters.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Public Interest Projects (fiscal sponsor for “Over the Moon”), here to learn about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and here to learn about the Young Survival Coalition (the “Over the Moon” project benefits both non-profits). “Over the Moon” is also available in e-book format.

Coming up: A day at “Camp Broadway”

Art meets journalism

Student artwork from Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley

Journalists from around the state gathered Saturday night at a funky little joint called The Duce to recognize the “best journalism in Arizona” during 2011. A decade ago, journalists gathered at the Heard Museum. Journalists get around, and so does the Arizona Press Club Awards Party.

Several journalists were recognized for coverage of the arts — some in the “metro” (larger circulation) category and others in the “non-metro” (smaller circulation) category.

DVLC student artwork

Congratulations to Dr. Donald J. Behnke of Green Valley News and Sun for taking first place in non-metro arts criticism. Also to Cindy Yuth of Najavo Times for earning first place in arts reporting. Navajo Times went home with several awards, and top billing on my revised “good stuff to read” list.

First place for metro arts criticism went to Margaret Regan with Tucson Weekly, while first place awards for metro arts reporting went to Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic and the staff of Phoenix New Times for “Chow Bella.” I’m already reading that last baby.

Several Raising Arizona Kids journalists were honored as well — but I leave sharing that happy news to founder, publisher and editor Karen Barr. I’ve already got next year’s ceremony on the brain, and visions of rotating back to an arts-related venue.

I’ve been to a couple of amazing Childsplay shindigs at Tempe Center for the Arts, where I also enjoyed last year’s AriZoni Awards ceremony. And it’s fun to imagine all those Arizona journalists making their way through the “noodle forest” at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with this year’s awards, including Jill Jorden Spitz (contest chair) and Becky Pallack (awards reception chair). Both work for Arizona Daily Star and serve on the Arizona Press Club board of directors.

But most of all, thanks to everyone who reads and appreciates the work.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for a full list of Arizona Press Club award winners.

Coming up: Arts criticism meets youth theater, Lullabies on Broadway, Playwright profiles

Spilling secrets

The real playwrights of Arizona will be spilling secrets this weekend as they present the 6th annual Pandora Festival, dubbed “Secrets Revealed.” It’s a three-day event featuring diverse works about everything from teen misfits to gripes with the corporate world. Even lack of privacy in the digital world and memories of a failed marriage.

ASU alumna Jennifer Giralo’s first play is part of this weekend’s “Pandora Festival” in Scottsdale

It’s “idealism versus realism” as Patty Hackmann directs Jennifer Giralo’s “Married to Marriage.” Seems characters Andy and Kim try to work through differing world views “in a late night bet they will never forget.” Something tells me they’re not wagering over who’s better at separating whites from brights.

Micki Shelton’s “Holly,” directed by Kate Hawkes, imagines a woman lost in Utah struggling to balance GPS, a Native American Park Ranger and a man on a horse. It’s all good, I suppose, assuming she doesn’t add texting while trailblazing.

Shelton notes that while she’s written plays starting with characters (“Circles”), theme (“Discovery: The Lost Gospel of Judas” — still a work in progress), and basic plot (“Fred and Mary”), she hadn’t “written a play beginning with setting” until a trip to Hovenweep National Monument about 18 months ago inspired her to write the work that became “Holly.”

Folks who enjoy “Holly” can experience more of Shelton’s work this July as “Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance” makes its world premiere at the historic Elks Opera House in Prescott. While others watch “Holly” come Saturday night, Shelton will be attending her daughter’s graduation in California. Some babies are penned, others born.

The Pandora Festival of New Works 2012 looks like this:

  • Ten short plays. Fri, May 18 at 7pm.
  • “Duty & Duplicity,” a full-length play by Michelle Lambeau (directed by Barbara Aker). Sat, May 19 at 2pm.
  • Four one-act plays. Sat, May 19 at 7pm.
  • “Father’s Ashes,” a full-length play by Esther Blumfield (directed by Kandyce Hughes). Sun, May 20 at 2pm.

All works are being performed at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s one of many gems you’ll discover by exploring a section of their website dubbed “Events Presented by Visiting Groups” (others include “Swan Lake…The Big Splash” presented by Dance Theater West).

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located right next to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which has plenty of its own intriguing offerings — including this weekend’s first-event SMOCA “Teens Night Out” Sat, May 19, from 7-11pm in front of the museum.

“Teens Night Out” is free for teens with school I.D. or drivers license, and features everything from break dancing to painting performance. Think four bands, outdoor community chalk mural, hands-on art activities, free raffles, DJ and more. Reminds me of a recent dance party enjoyed at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC.

Let the kids party while you Pandora. Click here to learn more about the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which presents the Pandora Festival plus other opportunities for playwrights and lovers of the new. Then tell a friend, because some secrets are fine to share.

– Lynn

Coming up: Ten ways to celebrate International Museum Day, Arts meets women’s rights, From Brooklyn to Scottsdale