Science & Shakespeare?

Next time you have a free Friday evening and want to do a little out-of-the-ordinary Internet browsing, consider searching for information about race-related issues in Shakespearean literature. It’s a fascinating topic.

Still, there’s a more enjoyable way to learn about race as it’s been understood, and misunderstood, throughout history.

You'll see this photo, and hear audio of people offering diverse definitions of race, as you enter the Arizona Science Center's RACE exhibit

It’s the RACE exhibit at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix — and tonight (Fri, Nov 5) you can enjoy it with fellow grown-ups, and an expert who’ll share insights on race and medicine.

I took one of my favorite grown-ups along with me to see the exhibit just a few days ago — my 21-year-old son, Christopher, who has been exploring the Arizona Science Center with family, friends and classmates since he was barely tall enough to push the elevator buttons.

We’re preparing a slide show of our visit — during which we enjoyed learning about everything from how people define and experience race to how issues of race impact education and other aspects of society.

One of many exhibit features that invites museum-goers to ponder their own perspectives on race

An interactive exhibit on the science of skin color. A timeline of race-related ideas and actions. A giant world map on the tile floor. A playspace for children to enjoy puppets of many different skin colors. Photos of several people with  hand-written thoughts about their own racial identity. Several conversation areas and plenty to talk about. We found all this — and so much more.

Race is but one of many supposed differences that set the various characters of Shakepeare’s works against one another. For “Romeo and Juliet,” it’s a longtime family feud with tragic ends. But each telling of the story is distinct.

Arizona Theatre Company presents a limited engagement of "Romeo & Juliet" this weekend in Phoenix

This weekend you can enjoy “Romeo and Juliet” presented by Arizona Theatre Company at the Herberger Theater Center. It’s a joint production of The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater, “two of America’s premiere classical theatre companies.”

Phoenix show dates are Nov 4-7 and it’ll have a later run in Tucson. Sat, Nov 6, you’ll have two opportunities to learn more about Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Jared Sakren, artistic director for Southwest Shakespeare Company, will present a free pre-show lecture at 1pm on Sat, Nov 6, at the Herberger in downtown Phoenix. (Please note that this information reflects an update to the original post.)

That same afternoon, from 3-5pm, the University of Arizona in Tucson presents “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: A Presentation by UA Professor of English Dr. Peter E. Medine.” Registration is required, and the cost to attend is $20.

Natalia Magnicabelli in Ballet Arizona's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Photo: Rosalie O'Connor)

You can make a whole “Science and Shakespeare” weekend of it if you also head to Symphony Hall for “A Midummer Night’s Dream” performed by Ballet Arizona with The Phoenix Symphony and the ASU Women’s Choir.

Your children may especially enjoy this ballet production both because of the subject matter and because several School of Ballet Arizona students perform with the company for this work.

The production, choreographed by Ib Andersen with music by Felix Mendelssohn, takes place Fri-Sun, Nov 5-7. Tickets for the work, in which a mischief-maker and a magical spell cause fairy and human kingdoms to intertwine, start at just $17.

Knowing there are so many truly magical events taking place this weekend, including others mentioned in previous posts and/or on the Raising Arizona Kids website, makes me think the science I’m most in need of just now is cloning.

Is there an app for that?

— Lynn 

"Twelfth Night" by Southwest Shakespeare Company opens Nov 27 at Mesa Arts Center

Note: Support Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company with a wine- and food-tasting event in downtown Mesa from 6-10pm on Fri, Nov 12. Enjoy treats and sweets, fire dancing, entertainment by SSC interns and “wenches and knaves” and more. Tickets $25 in advance ($30 at the door) — which also includes non-alcoholic refreshments. Click here to learn more about “A Taste of Shakespeare.”

Coming up: The beginning of the end for Harry Potter, Getting to know the Grinch, Valley playwrights of the youth and grown-up variety


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