Tag Archives: Triangle

Remembering 1911

Head to the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre this weekend to see ASA perform TRIANGLE by Laurie Brooks and to enjoy an exhibit of related student artwork

Students from Arizona School for the Arts are performing “Triangle,” a play by Laurie Brooks, through May 1. It’s a remembrance of lives lived and lost at a New York City factory during 1911.

The Triangle Shirt Waist Fire took the lives of 146 people, mostly young immigrant women who worked in deplorable conditions for unfair wages. Factory doors were locked during working hours to prevent theft.

When a fire broke out on the top floors, workers were unable to escape. Fire truck ladders were too short to reach many of the victims. Some chose leaping out of windows over tortuous death by fire. 

It’s weighty material for a high school theater production, but ASA students did it justice during Friday night’s performance. Brooks’ writing is rich with vivid detail, and made me feel at times like I was right there on that factory floor.

Several elements essential to setting the mood for this story are executed by students. Nathan Naimark, who also performs in the show, delivers powerful lighting design. Costume design by Sophia Uptadel hints at the subtle ways workers were similar yet unique. Properties design is by Anika Larson.

Scenic design by Samantha Boswick, who teaches theatre production studies at ASA, features scaffolding draped with tattered pieces of fabric that convey the dreariness of life for many industrial age workers.

Sound design by A. Beck — which combines period piano music, the sound of a factory whistle and actor vocalizations simulating humming machines — is equally effective. Beck is theatre arts coordinator at ASA and serves as artistic director for this production of “Triangle.”

Themes pulled from the lives of 1911 men and women feel remarkably relevant 100 years later. Parental expectations. Sibling rivalry. Teen yearnings for independence. Gender roles. Poverty. Illegal immigration. Worker rights. Corporate responsibility.

The year 1911 — in the hands of playwright Laurie Brooks and Arizona School for the Arts — doesn’t feel all that far away. That may be the most powerful lesson of all.

– Lynn

Note: Those who attend “Triangle” this weekend (Sat, 7pm or Sun, 2pm) can also enjoy related artwork by students in ASA’s introduction to theatre class, which is exhibited in the lobby of the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre. Click here to learn more about the Triangle factory and fire.

Coming up: The smell of childhood, Circle time

A weekend to remember

This is your last weekend to enjoy the works of Metropolitan Arts Institute students in the Imagining Dance exhibit from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

It’s a weekend to remember for all sorts of reasons at our house. Celebrating Jennifer’s 20th birthday. Looking ahead to Lizabeth’s transition to college this fall. And readying for Christopher’s graduation with his first college degree.

But we’ll also be remembering more somber moments — in American and world history. Attending the ASA production of Laurie Brooks’ “Triangle,” a play about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 100 years ago (which made its world premiere at ASU in 2008). And recognizing “Holocaust Remembrance Day” on May 1.

Related community events include the “Yom Hashoah Holocaust Community Commemoration” at Temple Emanuel in Tempe. The service — which takes place Sun, May 1 at 7pm — will honor victims, survivors and their children.

“Habimah Emanuel,” the temple’s drama group, will present “a short performance” of the Broadway play “Rose” — which “deals with an aspect of the Holocaust.”

“Rose” was written by Martin Sherman. This production is directed by Paula Shulak. The cast includes Temple Emanuel members and local actors working in “an interfaith effort to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive in our own day.”

Phoenix Opera presents a benefit concert titled “Popera” — which features popular, spiritual and classical songs performed by “the stars of Phoenix Opera” — on Sun, May 1. Think “Bring Him Home” and “The Prayer.” Also “Ava Maria” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

There’s a 2pm matinee at All Saints of the Desert in Sun City and a 7pm performance at All Saints Episcopal Church in Phoenix. The concert features ten Phoenix Opera singers and “international opera star” Robert Hale. Tickets are $20.

This weekend is your last chance to experience student works by young artists from Metropolitan Arts Institute on exhibit in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art young@art gallery (which is actually located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts).

And it’s the perfect weekend to visit the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix. Their “Listen to the World” event — featuring music, dance and workshops in celebration of their first anniversary — is free with museum admission.

Jordin Sparks & Friends” perform at the MIM Music Theater Friday night. Tickets start at $75 and include both a reception that evening and museum admission for April 30 or May 1. “Alaska’s fiddling poet” Ken Waldman presents free poetry, storytelling and song on Saturday.

The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona presents their young@art festival “From Page to Stage” on Sat, April 30 from 10am-5pm. The festival is all about youth writing and art. The Poetry Center is located at 1508 E. Helen St. in Tucson.

Youth are invited to “come play with words, make books and help write Tucson’s longest poem.” Performers include “Stories That Soar,” the “Silver Thread Trio,” “Puppets Amongus,” “Mr. Tidy Paws & the Funtime Orange Band” and many more.

There’s haiku improv, a youth poetry slam championship and even art projects. Think tie-dye. Chalk art. Origami poetry. A detailed schedule of offerings is available online.

Whatever your weekend plans, make time to enjoy at least a bit of arts and culture with your children big or small. Time is so fleeting — and experiences with song, dance, theater, literature and art create some of our warmest memories, as families and communities.

– Lynn

Note: Read more about the topic of Holocaust remembrance in “Remember and Act: Engaging children in social justice” in the May 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: “The Other King & I”

“Memphis” meets movie theater

Alert: Click here to learn how you can help victims of flooding in the Memphis area.

Lizabeth and I are heading to a Broadway musical Thursday night — not in the theater district in NYC, but right here in the Valley — as Fathom Events presents a filmed performance of “Memphis” at several AMC movie theaters.

Memphis” was nominated for eight 2010 Tony Awards, and won four of them. It beat out “American Idiot,” “Fela!” and “Million Dollar Quartet” for the 2010 Tony Award for “Best Musical.”

You wouldn’t have expected as much had you read an early review of “Memphis” by theater critic Charles Isherwood of The New York Times – who described it in an Oct 20, 2009 review as “the Michael Bolton of Broadway musicals.”

Isherwood decribes the musical as “slick but formulaic entertainment,” but that hardly dampens my interest. If anything, it ups the intrigue factor — already quite high because the music for “Memphis” comes from Bon Jovi pianist David Bryan.

“Memphis” explores issues of sex, race and rock & roll in 1950s America. Seems a white high school dropout stumbles into a black nightclub and wows the crowds with his powerful piano licks — then hits plenty of highs and lows before landing a DJ gig that appears his true calling. Falling for a black singer doesn’t make his life any easier.

The club where character Huey Calhoun first finds his bliss is located on Beale Street, an actual music row located in Memphis, Tennessee — where something called the “Beale Street Music Festival” takes April 29-May 1 this year.

I suppose those who get really inspired when “Memphis” meets the movies on Thursday night can hop a plane and live a bit of Memphis in real life this weekend. Other fab events on the Memphis horizon include a May 2-8 “International Salute to Belgium” and a May 12-14 “World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest.”

Memphis has influenced or been home to plenty of famous actors — from Dixie Carter and Justin Timberlake to Kathy Bates and Morgan Freeman. Also musicians Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis (depicted in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet“).

As every loyal Elvis fan knows, Memphis is home to Presley’s “Graceland.” Tennessee museums include the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, the Memphis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

I have a feeling I’ll want to jump on a plane bound for Tennessee come Friday morning. Thankfully, I’ve got lots of reasons to stick around — including tickets to see the Arizona School for the Arts performance of “Triangle” and the Actors Theatre performance of “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

Come to think of it, perhaps the good folks of Memphis ought to think about coming here to enjoy a bit of Arizona arts and culture…

– Lynn

Note: “Memphis” is also being shown at Cinemark Mesa 16 (home to performances from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC and other special events).

Coming up: Like everyone else…

Update: We had a great time attending “Memphis” at a Mesa movie theater Thursday night. The movie theater venue lets viewers see actors up close, enjoy behind the scenes happenings and watch interviews with cast/creative team members that they can’t experience during live theater performance. I liked the musical as a story of the difference one person, or a small group of people, can make — but Lizabeth and I agree we’d enjoy it more as a concert or play rather than a piece of musical theater. You still have the weekend to see “Memphis” in select movie theaters. It’s perfect for those who enjoy rock and soul, those interested in the history of the civil rights movement, those who appreciate the marriage of history and music, those who like a lot of dance with their Broadway, and those who want to see what happened when Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan got inspired to write music that might help us all like each other more than we hate each other.

Celebrate women’s art!

Today marks the 100th annual  “International Women’s Day” — which celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women.

It’s a lovely excuse to pause for a moment (or more) to reflect on the role of women in our personal and collective histories — and to enjoy an online collection of artworks by women from around the globe.

The “Global IWD Arts Initiative” features works by diverse women who aim to “inspire, challenge, entertain and provoke thought from a gender angle.”

Click here to enjoy some of their paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, sketches, collages and more — as well as stories written by women with diverse voices.

“International Women’s Day” is also a perfect reminder that women artists in our own neighborhoods and local communitiesare are doing remarkable things — and deserve our support.

The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company presents their 5th annual “Pandora Festival” May 20-22 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — for which auditions are being held Sat, April 9, from 1-5:30pm.

The festival is focused on new works — which are presented as “staged readings.” This year’s festival will be the first to include the works of women playwrights within and outside of Arizona.

Arizona Women’s Theatre Company describes itself as “the only theatre in Arizona to focus on women playwrights and directors.” They specialize is producing “contemporary, provocative, thought-provoking plays written by women.”

But what about those among us who dream of dramaturgy? The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company presents a dramaturgy workshop as part of this year’s fastival. “Developing New Plays-Dramaturgy: Its Meaning and Uses” takes place Sat, April 30, from 1-4:30pm in Scottsdale.

The workshop will be led by Laurie Brooks, an award-winning playwright and fiction author — and is open to “invited playwrights, directors and actors involved in the festival.”

I’m intrigued by not only her young adult title, “Selkie Girl,” but also the names of several of her plays — including “Everyday Heroes,” “The Lost Ones, “Atypical Boy,” and “Brave No World.”

I saw the Arizona School for the Arts theatre arts department perform Brooks’ “The Wrestling Season” several years ago, and will be enjoying Brooks’ work again as ASA students present her play titled “Triangle” April 29-May 1 at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre.

We all work our art in different ways. Still, there’s one thing many of us have in common — an abiding gratitude for the many women who connect us to the past, enrich us in the present, and pull us forward towards the future.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about an independent film titled “Pushing the Elephant,” which airs later this month on PBS as part of its “Independent Lens” series. The film follows Rose Mapendo, a mother of 10 who escaped from the Democratic Republic of Congo during the late 1990s. Click here for information on screenings in Tucson and other cities.

Coming up: Seeing red in Arizona, Immigration takes the stage

I have a dilemma

I ran into a friend Saturday afternoon during the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine 2011 Camp Fair. She almost always greets me with the same line: “You’re everywhere!”

Sometimes she goes so far as to suggest I’ve been cloned, but if that’s the case she must surely have met a similar fate. She’s only seeing me everywhere because she too is out there flitting to and fro in theater world.

Cloning feels particularly tempting on weekends — when there are far more music, dance and theater offerings than we can possibly enjoy in just two days time. Festivals, art exhibits and museum fare also abound.

Lizabeth hit the ASU Kerr Cultural Center, just up the street from our house, Saturday night for an improv work titled “Jane Austen UnScripted” performed by L.A.-based Impro Theatre.

Comedy meets classic lit. That choice was easy. Especially given that missing such a show would be tantmount to blasphemy in our family prone to musings on history, literature and philosophy.

Sunday brought a tougher challenge. As longtime season ticket holders for the Broadway Across America series at ASU Gammage, we were sad having to miss today’s matinee of the musical “9 to 5.”

I was too busy working “5 to 9″ to take advantage of their ticket exchange program for season ticket holders. I kept thinking “the show’s not until February” — but alas, it’s now nearly March.

Lizabeth and I planned to see “Friends, Enemies, and People on the Subway” — a show featuring student-directed one act plays — together Sunday afternoon.

It was presented by fellow theater arts students at Arizona School for the Arts, whose next work — the play “Triangle” by Laurie Brooks — is being performed April 29, 30 and May 1 at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre.

But Lizabeth checked Facebook Sunday morning and found a reminder that a friend she’s studied with at Childsplay Academy, a friend who faithfully attends all of Lizabeth’s shows, was appearing in a show that ended its run Sunday afternoon.

Amanda was “Scar” one year when Lizabeth was “Pumba” during a musical theater workshop based on “The Lion King” — and they’ve been friends ever since.

“Mom,” Lizabeth told me Sunday morning over the breakfast table, “I have a dilemma.” She was torn, wanting to support both her classmates and her friend.

So we found a way to do both. She hit the Mesa Arts Center for the East Valley Children’s Theatre production of “Puss ‘N Boots” (which had two ASA students in the cast) while I enjoyed the ASA performance of five one-acts.

We got pizza together afterwards to swap notes on the shows, then headed home to watch the 83rd Annual Academy Awards — where I discovered that the thing I’m most interested in cloning is Helen Mirren’s stunning grey gown.

– Lynn

Note: David Hallberg, principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York, will be honored Tuesday with the inaugural Young Alumnus Award from Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix. Click here for information about the free ASA event at which Hallberg will be recognized for his outstanding achievements.

Coming up: Art meets dance, A mother/daughter costume tale