Tag Archives: Amy Silverman

Art meets Arizona

Full Moon by Sandy Tracey

Like Amy Silverman — Valley mom, journalist and creator of “The I Heart Phoenix Project” — I’m still working on working up a deep and abiding passion for the state I call home.

So news of the “Living in Arizona” summer exhibit at the Herberger Theater Center struck a chord.

The exhibit kicks-off with a free opening reception Sat, July 9, from 4:30-6pm at the Herberger Theater Art Gallery, which might be the only place downtown not crawling with folks donning their major league baseball gear.

The Center’s swanky lounge, formally known as the “Bob’s Spot Gallery Lounge,” will have a no-host bar for the opening, and live music will be provided by “String Serenade.”

Those of you sickened by incessant talk of the Casey Anthony jury will be happy to know that an entirely different sort of jury has been at work a bit closer to home — selecting works for the “Living in Arizona” exhibit curated by Jim Covarrubias.

Members of the local arts community juried the “Living in Arizona” show, choosing which of 500 works submitted by 79 qualified artists from across the state would be included. Event organizers note that the exhibit “conjures desert landscapes in many genres.”

Still, I’m told that “many of the interpretations in this exhibit will pleasantly surprise art lovers.” Participating Arizona artists include Sandy Tracey, Leland Beaman, Diana Creighton, Kathleen Escobedo, A.E. Rieff and Beata Wehr.

“Living in Arizona” will be on display through Aug 28 during regular Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery Hours — which are Mon-Fri from 10am-5pm. The gallery is also open during performances at the Center.

Upcoming performances include “With Friends Like These” from Theatre Artists Studio (July 12-21), “Peoplesongs” with Annie Moscow (July 26-Aug 4), “Wacky, Wickedly Wonderful Women” presented by D’Amore Productions and “Hairspray” performed by Valley Youth Theatre.

It’s family, and the fine art found at Arizona venues like the Herberger Theater Center, that make life in Arizona most meaningful.

– Lynn

Note: Save the date! Herberger Theater Center and SRP present the “Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts” Oct 1, 2011. Click here to learn about the diverse arts experiences you can enjoy at this year’s festival.

Coming up: Library musings, Ode to hairspray

From JFK to Father’s Day

This poster resembles a T-shirt my daughter Jennifer loves to wear

For most, the name Kennedy conjures thoughts of politics. My own daughter Jennifer, a 20-year-old antroplogy student at ASU who aspires to work for the United Nations, loves wearing a T-shirt that bears the likeness of a 1960 poster supporting JFK’s presidential campaign.

John F. Kennedy was born in Massachusetts on May 29, 1917. Had he not been assassinated in November 1963, today would be JFK’s 94th birthday. And while opinions of his politics may vary, it’s hard to find fault in his avid support for the arts.

After Kennedy’s death, a work in progress originally dubbed the National Culture Center became the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It’s located near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and there are three ways folks in Arizona can enjoy its offerings.

Those visiting D.C. can attend diverse music, dance and theater performance at the Kennedy Center — assuming tickets are available when you’re ready to buy them. The rest of us can watch for touring productions of Kennedy Center programs like the Theater for Young Audiences performance of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” presented last year at Higley Center for the Performing Arts, Or go online for daily webcasts from the Center’s Millennium Stage.

The Kennedy Center offers free daily performances (at 6pm EST) on its Millennium Stage. Saturday night I watched streaming video of the Beach Fossils. Sunday night will feature a D.C. trio called “Medications,” described as “an 18-year collaboration between multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter with drummer Mark Cisneros” that “combines a love of ’60s and ’70s pop, as well as the visceral pulse of ’70s punk.”

There’s plenty of live performance art right here in Arizona, but Kennedy Center Millennium Stage offerings are perfect for evenings you’re content to stay home but still want to get your daily dose of arts and culture. While you’re online, consider exploring the Kennedy Center website to learn about its many collaborations with Arizona artists.

Ballet Arizona performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Center’s “Ballet Across America II” program in June 2010. And Childsplay, a Tempe-based theater company presenting works for youth and families, has participated four times in the Center’s “New Visions/New Voices” playwriting development program — with “The Yellow Boat,” “Even Steven Goes to War,” “Salt & Pepper,” and “Telemera: Stories My Mother Told Me.”

But the Kennedy family legacy goes beyond the realms of politics and art.

Patrick J. Kennedy, son of JFK’s brother Edward M. Kennedy and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is coupling his personal experience with bipolar disorder and addiction with his expertise in public policy to further the work of the newly-established “One Mind for Research” campaign — which aims to unify the science, technology, research and knowledge needed to battle brain disorders.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, JFK’s sister, founded the Special Olympics in 1968. The organization — which describes itself as “the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities” — serves more than 3.5 million people through a variety of programs. From June 25 to July 4, 7,500 athletes from 185 countries will participate in the Special Olympics “World Summer Games” in Athens — which includes 22 Olympic-type sports.

Today the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, continues making her own contributions to arts and culture. She serves as honorary chairman of the American Ballet Theatre governing board and has authored several books including “A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children” and the recently released “She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems.”

I imagine what it must have been like to grow up surrounded by the countless words of others attempting to decipher or describe your father’s legacy. If you’d like to try writing about your own father, consider attending a “Father’s Day Writing Workshop” Fri, June 9, from 6-8pm at MADE Art Boutique on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. Here’s a little blurb about the event from the “Mothers Who Write” website:

A good dad is hard to find. If you’ve got one, let him know how you feel by writing something for him this Father’s Day. And if you don’t, write about him anyway — it just might be cathartic. Bring 17 copies of your two-page (typed, double spaced) piece to MADE and fine-tune it with MWW instructors Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussman (ASU Art Museum). Spaces are limited; registration is required. To register, call 602.256.MADE.

We all spend far too much time delving into the private lives of other families, famous and otherwise. And while I find the topic of JFK fascinating, I can assure you that my own father is every bit as interesting and complex — albeit in a wholly different sort of a way. Maybe he’s the one I should be writing about…

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Special Olymics Arizona

Coming up: Local twists on the Tony Awards®, Last chance! Art camps, Do the math: Arizona arts & culture by the numbers

The smell of childhood?

Orange blossom soap from Athens Locally Grown

When I connected recently with Tempe mother and journalist Amy Silverman, she shared a bit with me about her Arizona childhood.

Seems she’d recently purchased a bar of soap with an orange blossom scent. “It literally made me sick,” Silverman told me. “It smelled like my childhood.”

In a sentence, sometimes less, Silverman conjures detailed images that transport readers to other places and perspectives.

Orange blossom cheesecake from Atlanta Cheesecake Company

Hence her many accolades and awards. She’s been twice honored by the Arizona Press Club with the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award.

For 18 years she’s worked for Phoenix New Times — serving the last six as managing editor.

Still, Silverman finds time to share her talents with others. She’s co-founder, along with Deborah Sussman Susser, of a “Mothers Who Write” class that helps women find and share their voices.

A public reading by “Mothers Who Write” participants (past and present) takes place Sat, May 7 from 2-4pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public, though some material may not be suitable for children.

Orange blossom gift basket from LadyBug Great Gifts

I’d like to see Silverman pen a children’s book. Perhaps something about Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain — a Valley landmark Silverman says she’s always thought of as “the camel’s eyelash.”

Silverman and her husband have two daughters, so she’s got plenty of pearls about both parenting and poising the pen. Registration for the next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop will begin July 1 through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange blossom cocktail from Science of Drink

The workshop offers “support and advice for writing mothers (of all ages) who want to develop their craft and receive feedback on their work.” Though all genres are welcome, the main focus is creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

Visit the “Mothers Who Write” website to learn more about classes, readings and the many adventures of “Mothers Who Write” alumni — including Deborah Rich Gettleman of Theatre Artists Studio and Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

And keep an eye out for the June 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — because the ever-fascinating Silverman and her family are profiled in the “AZ Generations” column.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of journalists who’ve won 2010 Arizona Press Club awards — which includes two mothers who write for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Winners will be recognized May 21 at the Arizona Press Club Awards Party in Phoenix.

Coming: More mothers who write

Books & beyond

This new book will appeal to fans of musical theater

Mall it if you must, but I’m hitting the bookstores instead. Places like Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe feel more like community gathering places than retail shopping spaces.

Bring your holiday shopping list along, but be prepared to enjoy much more than their extensive collection of books and gift items.

Author visits and book signings are a frequent occurence at Changing Hands — and feature local as well as nationally-renowned authors. Some write for adults, others for children and teens.

A lovey selection for young music and cat lovers

My own personal favorite is fellow Arizona parent Amy Silverman — mom of two daughters, managing editor of Phoenix New Times and half of a dynamic “Mothers Who Write” duo offering writing workshops.

Silverman presents “Holidaze: How to Write About the Happiest Time of the Year,” at Changing Hands Bookstore on Tues, Dec 2.

For poetry lovers, Changing Hands offers “First Friday Poetry,” “Poetry Roundtable” and other events. There’s plenty for photographers too.

One of several Twyla Tharp titles for creative types

My fellow magazine readers will find an eclectic selection of titles for folks of all ages and interests — including many you won’t find at more traditional book stores or magazine stands.

“Workshop for Toddlers” with Ramie Manch on Mon, Dec 6, mixes toddler/parent together time with strategies for using puzzles to enhance academic and social skills.

Changing Hands has a charming children’s area full of colorful books, toys, puzzles, craft kits, stuffed animals, puppets and more.

Teen events include writing workshops, author visits and much more. Teens love the Changing Hands vibe, and will have a great time exploring Hoodlums Music & Movies right next door.

Gift idea for art managers and leaders

If music is your thing, check out the “East Valley Music School Concert” Sat, Dec 4. If stories rock your world, you’ll find plenty of storytimes at Changing Hands. They’ve even got opportunities to learn a bit of Spanish.

Changing Hands has diverse holiday offerings — commemorating Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and more. They also host local artisans on a regular basis so you can enjoy even more holiday gift ideas.

While reviewing their December calendar (I’m on their e-mail list to receive info on author series, workshops and community events), I stumbled on sign language, physics, wildlife, volunteerism and more.

One of many titles on my holiday reading list

Books are just a bit of the bounty you’ll find at Changing Hands Bookstore. Go. Listen. Read. Create. Meet. Explore.

– Lynn

Note: Changing Hands Bookstore, like Raising Arizona Kids Magazine, is a member of Local First Arizona. Click here to learn about local businesses that appreciate your support during the holiday season and beyond.

Coming up: Art adventures–Arizona Science Center

Puppetry & playwriting

Playwright Geoffrey Gonsher found early inspiration in Howdy Doody, pictured here with Buffalo Bob

I’ve accompanied my three children to well over a hundred birthday parties through the years, but the memory of one party in particular still makes me smile.

It was for a young boy named Aaron who, along with his older brother Charles and the rest of the family, loved spending time at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix.

“For years it was our Saturday morning home,” recalls their father Geoffrey Gonsher.

I learned from Gonsher just yesterday that Aaron is now in New York studying and practicing the craft of theater criticism, while Charles works in the financial sector in Boulder, Colorado.

Their dad is a playwright who’ll present his latest work tonight (Sat, Nov 6) at Playhouse on the Park in Phoenix.

I met Gonsher when our children attended Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley — where children love reading in the desert, performing for peers and parents each Friday, and taking all sorts of arts-related field trips.

They even study art with Sonja Saar, Valley fiber artist and wife of Childsplay founder David Saar.

I reconnected with Gonsher after seeing his name on the list of playwrights participating in tonight’s “An Evening of New Works” (hosted by Phoenix Theatre in association with the Dramatists Guild of America) and called him Friday morning to ask about his work.

He’s presenting “Dinner at Six” — a short comedic piece that grew out of a larger dramatic play.

“Above all,” shares Gonsher, “it is a play about relationships.” Gonsher urges playwrights young and old to write what they know, and he’s followed his own advice here by writing about middle-aged men and their mothers.

His own favorite playwrights include Rod Serling, best known for the original “Twilight Zone” television series.

If you’re even a fraction as intrigued as I am, head to the Playhouse on the Park tonight to enjoy this — and several other short works — for yourself.

An audience discussion and Q & A session will follow the performance of each work, so patrons can offer input and playwrights can benefit from audience feedback.

The esteemed list of playwrights participating this evening also includes Theatre Artists Studio member and Raising Arizona Kids magazine contributor Debra Gettleman, who’ll present a work titled “I Just Killed Mickey Rooney.”

Gettleman honed her writing craft during a “Mothers Who Write” class with Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussmann Susser (Jewish News of Greater Phoenix), and she’s especially skilled in dry wit and “unmotherly insights.”

I asked Gonsher about other works he’s written — which include “The Twelve Nights of Political Christmas” and “Border Patrol.” His first work, it seems, was a puppet show written on the occasion of his own 60th birthday.

The piece, titled “Dilly Dally,” was a gift to his two sons — and it was coupled with a monetary gift that became the “Dilly Dally Fund” managed by Arizona Community Foundation.

Gonsher admits there weren’t many folks in attendance for the puppet show, held at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater (which Gonsher describes as “one of the treasures of Arizona”).

But he filled the empty seats with stuffed animals and puppets his sons enjoyed during their youth. The stars were his own original Howdy Doody puppets.

I shared with Gonsher my most recent trip to the Great Arizona Puppet Theater — during which I enjoyed 14 short puppet shows written by students in grades 2 through 8 at Kenilworth Elementary School in Phoenix.

The show, titled “Imagine This!,” took place Thursday evening and it was a true delight. You can enjoy it yourself through Sun, Nov 7.

A giraffe teased by others for his unusually long neck. A worm named “Lulu” that cut back to just one cupcake a day in order to make it through a tunnel in the ground. A mischievious bear who came alive at night only to leave his young owner’s toys in complete disarray. A competition of sorts between a real chicken and a robotic one.

Bigotry and bullying. Nature versus machine. Healthy habits and wellbeing. These students tackled some pretty big topics with a playful innocence that trumps the preachiness of some adult works.

I felt honored to be among some of the Valley youngest, and greatest, playwrights.

I’ll share a bit more about my “Imagine This!” experience in a future post. For now, I leave you with Gonsher’s advice for playwrights young and old.

“Write,” says Gonsher. “Write no matter what it is or how good it is, and do it as often as possible.”

“Write what you know,” adds Gonsher. Don’t struggle to research something far from your own life. “Write about your own life, your own struggles, your own relationships,” he says.

“There are stories there,” muses Gonsher, “and this is what people can relate to.”

– Lynn

Note: Valley resources for aspiring playwrights include a playwriting contest presented by East Valley Children’s Theatre, one of several resident performing arts companies of the Mesa Arts Center. A new Valley resource for puppet performance art is Puppet Works at Theater Works in Peoria, which mounts its first show in December.

Coming up: Playwriting opportunities for children and teens

Women playwrights & Arizona theater

Katsina Dolls and Hopi Ceremonial Calendar on exhibit at the Heard Museum North Scottsdale

I was struck, during a recent trip to the Heard Museum North Scottsdale, by a round graphic of the Hopi ceremonial calendar. The calendar depicts time in circular rather than linear fashion — speaking volumes about differing ways diverse cultures sometimes view time.

The image of an unbroken circle came to mind the other day when I got to thinking about Valley writer and performer Kathleen Buckstaff — who will present a piece titled “The Tiffany Box” at Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix Nov 4-14.

Our children attended the same elementary school, though I don’t recall that we ever had the opportunity to spend all that much time together. Still, I am eager to see the work – a “unique and intimate performance piece” in which Buckstaff shares a “touching and uplifting journey from love to loss.”

"The Tiffany Box", written and performed by Kathleen Buckstaff, comes to Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix Nov 4-14

I spoke recently with Matthew Wiener, producing artistic director for Actors Theatre of Phoenix, who noted that three of the offerings in their current season are works by women playwrights.

Wiener takes great pride in bringing “recent, contemporary shows from New York” to the Valley. The company’s 2010-2011 season includes “three of the most exciting playwriting women today.”

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” by Sarah Ruhl runs Oct 29-Nov 14. It’s “a comedy about marriage, intimacy and electricity” set in the 1880s.

This” by Melissa James Gibson runs Jan 21-Feb 6, 2011. It’s a “bright, witty, un-romantic comedy” about “the uncertain steps of a circle of friends backing their way into middle age.”

Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker runs Apr 22-May 8, 2011. It’s the Arizona premiere of an “inventive and absorbing comedy” exploring “the impact we can have on each other’s lives.”

Actors Theatre presents "In the Next Room" by Sarah Ruhl Oct 29-Nov 14 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Pictured here are Angelica Howland (Catherine Givings) and Erica Connell (Sabrina Daldry). Photo: John Groseclose

The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, established in 2003 and based in Scottsdale, produces “contemporary, provocative, thought provoking plays written by women.”

The company is working to provide “an innovative forum for women’s issues” — revealing women’s lives and documenting women’s experiences.

Their “Pandora Showcase,” taking place Nov 12-13 and Nov 19-20 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, will feature “contemporary and new plays by Arizona women playwrights.”

Women playwrights from across the country are invited to submit works for consideration as Arizona Women’s Theatre Company seeks scripts for its 5th Annual Pandora Festival.

A juried panel will select unpublished full length, one act and 10 minutes plays for staged readings during the May 20-22, 2011 festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Check the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company website for submission details, instructions and deadlines.

And keep an eye on Theatre Artists Studio, which often features the work of Arizona playwrights and actors including the magazine’s own Debra Rich Gettleman.

Like so many women writers, there’s more to Gettleman than just a pretty blog.

– Lynn

Note: Local writers Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser offer two “Mothers Who Write” workshops each year. The next 10-week series begins Feb 24 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Coming up: Playwriting contests

ASU meets NYT

My husband James enjoyed a rare and simple pleasure this weekend when I left him with fresh copies of the Sunday papers so I could head out to the grocery store. It seemed the least I could do after seeing him stare at a bowl of cereal for which there was no milk.

When I returned, he handed me a lovely stack of papers that looked nothing like the pile he inherits from me most Sundays. Lopsided ads strewn about by our sometimes-frugal ASU student. Crossword puzzles ripped from arts sections so only half of most articles remain.

But most appreciated was The New York Times insert from the ASU Herberger Institute’s School of Theatre and Film – which details their 2010/2011 MainStage Season. Lizabeth and I enjoyed reviewing it together — over cereal complete with milk.

The School of Theatre and Film describes the season, which features seven plays and a student film festival, as “action-packed and innovative.” A central theme is exploring “the relationships that bind people together.”

The School’s director, Guillermo Reyes (also artistic director of the MainStage Season), says the season is “filled with contemporary and original works” focused on our relationships with “one another, our families and even our enemies.”

For those of you who missed it when we first announced the upcoming season, here’s a look at the many thoughtful works they’ll be presenting…

26 Miles by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Hudes wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” (performed last season at ASU Gammage featuring composer and lyricist Lin Manual Miranda in the role he originated on Broadway). It’s a “coming of age dramedy” in which a Cuban-American teen explores her ethnic identify while taking a road trip with her estranged mother. I’m eager to experience the work, directed by Jerry Ruiz, with an eye to issues of both borders and boundaries. October 2010.

Big Love by Charles L. Mee. Kim Weild directs “an extavagent retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history.” Picture “50 Greek sisters escaping by boat from what might be the world’s largest arranged marriage” — then imagine the tragedy, of Greek proportions, that ensues. I’ll be watching this with fond memories of my own ill-fated trip to see the tiny Greek isle of Patmos. November 2010 (contains nudity).

Allegra by Asher Wyndham. William Partian directs this MFA playwriting candidate work about a television newscaster who learns her unborn child might have Down Syndrome — then “grapples with the decision of whether to keep her unborn baby.” I suspect my experience with this work will be influenced by my many encounters with mothers, including Gina Johnson of “Sharing Down Syndrome Arizona” and Amy Silverman of “Girl in a Party Hat,” who parent children with Down Syndrome with both grit and grace. December 2010.

Dreaming Darwin by Lance Gharavi and Jacob Pinholster. This workshop production, directed by Gharavi, is a new work created when these two professors “assembled a team of ASU student artists” to explore Charles Darwin as a “fantasy on a theme.” It’s the next stage in the evolution of the work, presented last season as a staged reading. I may experience this as a sort of intersection of my three children’s interests — wildlife biology, cultural anthropology and theater arts. February 2011 (just in time to celebrate Darwin’s birthday).

A Bridge to the Stars by Henning Mankell (adapted by John Retallack). This work, a “poignant and soulful tale of a boy’s search for family, community and meaning,” is set against the “endless night” of a mythical Scandinavian village. I’ll be seeing this one with fond memories of long days and nights, as well as “northern lights,” during my childhood years in Alaska — plus college travels to cold, crisp and clean cities in Scandinavian countries. March 2011.

“The Skriker” by Caryl Churchill. This fantasy, directed by Joya Scott, “depicts a fairy underworld that has begun to bleed into our own” as a shape-shifting ghost “befriends, manipulates and attempts to control two young women.” The piece features “rich, evocative language…brought to life through movement and music.” I suspect I’ll watch this one feeling ever so grateful I’m not at home in front of a television series toying with tacky variations on similar themes. April 2011.

In the Penal Colony by Christian Krauspe. Kyle Lewis directs this adapatation of Frank Kafka’s original short story by an MFA playwriting candidate. The work explores the “the boundaries of punishment, loyalty, morality and tradition.” I’m not sure what I’ll take along when I see this work, but I don’t doubt that I’ll come away with something altogether more profound. April 2011.

Of one thing I am certain. The only thing sweeter than relaxing with a copy of The New York Times on Sunday morning is opening the paper to find more exciting news about ASU arts offerings — along with knowing I’ll be able to enjoy them firsthand as their new seasons of theater, film, music and dance unfold.

–Lynn

Note: The ASU 2010-2011 MainStage Season also includes the 6th Annual ASU Student Film Festival – taking place at the Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe April 25 and 26, 2011. The event features “the best student films produced within the school, and features a 10-minute film competition sponsored by the ASU Film Association.” To learn more about season performance locations and ticket prices, visit www.mainstage.asu.edu.

Coming up: Animal art, Laugh your brass off, Spotlight on storytelling, Conversations with Cory English about life on the road with family and “Young Frankenstein”