Tag Archives: fall festivals

Art meets Americas

It’s the inaugural year of a biannual festival presented by the CALA Alliance — which champions the importance of Latino art and culture, from both North and South America, to Arizona.

Alliance partners include the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center (ALAC), which has an exhibit and performance venue called “Galleria 147″ just across the street from Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Also XICO, which promotes Chicano artists. And Chicano Por La Casa (CPLC), which works to empower families in economically deprived communities.

Teatro Bravo presents a play about Frida Kahlo as part of the fall CALA festival

“Celebracion Artistica de las Americas,” also dubbed the “CALA festival,” takes place at various venues Sept 16-Nov 6, 2011. Its mission is “to create shared arts experiences that encourage cultural understanding between people of the Americas.”

Several arts and cultural organizations were selected through a jury process and given awards of various sizes to present their works during this fall’s festival.

These organizations include the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center (ALAC), the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Cultural Coaltion, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Heard Museum, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), the New Carpa Theater Company, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Boys Choir, the Scottsdale Cultural Council, the Scottsdale International Film Festival, Teatro Bravo! and XICO.

Festival offerings will include visual art, theater, music, film, dance, poetry and more. Many include experiences and hands-on activities for youth. Two educational initiatives, supported by Target (the festival’s presenting sponsor), are expected to reach thousands of Valley school children.

Phoenix Art Museum docents will read a book about artist Diego Rivera to students who will then get to take home their own copy of the book. They’ll also create their own mural. Childsplay will perform “The Sun Serpent” by Jose Cruz Gonzeles for students, some of whom have never before experienced live theater.

Children. Creavity. Collaboration. Community.

Cool.

– Lynn

Note: Learn more at www.calaalliance.org. Head to “First Fridays” at ALAC Fri, Sept 2, for a 6pm-10pm line-up that includes visual artists Juan Chawuk and Carlos Navarrete, poet Maria Rodriguez-Pope, filmmaker Valeria Fernandez, dance group Ballet Folklorico Esperanza, musician Cisco Arvallo and a Teatro Bravo presentation of “Frida.” 

Coming up: Celebrating “Day of the Dead” arts and culture style, Orchestral dreams, Student discount alert!

Morning on Main Street

While attending the Utah Shakespeare Festival with my 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth, I’m also enjoying plenty of local arts and activities in Cedar City, where the festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary season.

We spent Friday morning enjoying shops along Main Street, many of which feature exhibits by local artists, before heading to the matinee performance of a fabulous fiascso ala farce called “Noises Off.”

I hope you enjoy these photos of our morning on Main Street, which I put together while Lizabeth was breaking in a new novel from the local bookstore…

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Watch for future posts featuring reviews of “Romeo and Juliet” and other works from this summer’s offerings at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (a new fall line-up opens soon) — plus posts featuring artwork from some of the Valley’s hippest main streets.

– Lynn

Coming up: Midsummer night musings, Shakespeare meets sardines?

Valley actor and director ‘noises off’

Lizabeth came home from school on Thursday with an interesting “to do” list–gather info for a community service project, return borrowed books to her voice teacher, and pick a night to see “Noises Off” at Phoenix Theatre. Such is the life of a senior theater arts major.

"Noises Off" runs Aug 25-Sept 12 at Phoenix Theatre

It reminded me that “Noises Off” will open Phoenix Theatre’s 90th season this week–and that associate artistic director Robert Kolby Harper, who’ll appear in the fabulous farce, recently did some of his own ‘noising off’ as we discussed trends in musical theater.

“Musical theater has always reflected the temperament of the culture at hand,” observes Harper. The ’50s were a sort of golden era with a “happy, feel good focus.”

During the ’60s, “our thinking as a culture became less linear because of Vietnam.” As the ’70s ushered in new styles of popular music, Sondheim brought us the first “concept musical”–called “Company.”

"3 Redneck Tenors" runs Sept 29-Oct 17 at Phoenix Theatre

Today a good story isn’t enough, reflects Harper. A good musical must also consider “the human condition.”

“As our culture has grown up,” says Harper, “musical theater has gotten more thoughtful.”

Many of today’s musicals, such as “American Idiot,” are “used as instruments to get across a particular point of view.” Sometimes, notes Harper, the stories get a little bit boring.

"Hairspray" runs Nov 10-Dec 12 at Phoenix Theatre

Harper says he enjoyed seeing “American Idiot” in New York (“there was some amazing lighting”) although he confesses to wishing someone would just turn the music down a tad. (I hear you.)

So what of today’s musical theater landscape? “We have a little bit of everything,” reflects Harper. “Musical theater is becoming incredibly artistic because everybody is diversifying.” Think “Spring Awakening” and “[title of show].”

"No Way to Treat a Lady" runs Jan 12-30 at Phoenix Theatre

As we question ourselves more on issues like war and sexuality, we see those struggles reflected in works of musical theater. “The point of view of the underdog is more popular than it used to be,” adds Harper.

Another trend? The use of on-stage cameras, huge screens and other technology. It’s due in part, says Harper, to the growing influence of multi-media in all parts of American culture.

Musical theater is growing in popularity as it’s being developed by younger and younger artists, observes Harper.

He cites the musical “Rent” as an example–noting that it was “the first one in years that was a huge hit by an unknown.”

"Avenue Q" runs Feb 23-March 20 at Phoenix Theatre

“Now it happens all the time,” muses Harper. He describes “Avenue Q,” which Phoenix Theatre will present Feb 23-March 20 of next year, as a prime example.

Still, many seasoned musicals continue to attract new audiences. Harper recalls being struck by the incredibly long line of patrons waiting to see “The Phantom of the Opera” last time he hit New York.

“Lots of people still haven’t seen it,” notes Harper. “I don’t care if that’s all they see–because the point is that they tried it.”

I’m reminded of Lizabeth’s first trip to DC and NYC, during which fellow travelers were thrilled to see “Phantom” on Broadway while Lizabeth and a fellow student made their way to the Booth Theater to experience “Next to Normal.”

It’s all good, I suppose.

"Nine" runs April 13-May 8 at Phoenix Theatre

After all, reflects Harper, many Broadway visitors will return home to support their local community theaters.

Soon the Valley’s many theater companies (including Phoenix Theatre, Arizona’s oldest) will open their 2010-2011 seasons. They’ll offer everything from classic to contemporary, giving us all a bit of Broadway–and beyond.

To enjoy an insider’s look at Phoenix Theatre’s 90th season, and your own conversation with associate artistic director Robert Kolby Harper, you can enjoy “A Noises Off Tea” at The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix, featuring an exclusive opportunity to chat with Harper about his role in the comedic play “Noises Off” and more.

The event takes place at noon on Wed, Sept 1, and costs $35. Phoenix Theatre promises ‘no sardines, but a lovely English Tea.’ For reservations, call 602-468-0700.

Prepare those dialing fingers and pointed pinkies…

–Lynn

Note: You can double the fun by seeing Harper and others perform in “Noises Off” live at Phoenix Theatre and renting the 1992 film version of “Noises Off” starring Michael Caine and Carol Burnett (direction by Peter Bogdanovich). Other comedies coming soon to the Valley include “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Mesa Arts Center, Aug 27-Sept 12) and “The Kitchen Witches” (Tempe Center for the Arts, Sept 17-Oct 3).

Coming soon: Focus on fall festivals, Music and dance with William Shakespeare, “Eat Pray Love”–museum style