Tag Archives: John Lithgow

Storytellers grace Arizona stages

The fine folks at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe tell me I’ll have to wait a few more weeks before reading the never-before-released autobiography (or at least the first volume) from one of my favorite storytellers — Mark Twain.

But Valley fans of the fine art of storytelling will be enjoying two contemporary storytellers during the next several days as John Lithgow and Bill Harley hit Valley venues.

John Lithgow performs in Scottsdale Thursday and Friday night

Renaissance man John Lithgow, veteran artist of many mediums — from theater, film and television to writing and musical performance — shares “Stories by Heart” for two nights at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Lithgow considers storytelling “the unacknowledged tie that binds humanity.” “Stories by Heart” takes place Thurs, Oct 21, at 7:30pm and Fri, Oct 22, at 8pm. Go. Relish. Acknowledge.

You may not think of yourself as an aficionado of the art of storytelling, but consider for a moment that storytelling is all around us. Ads. Tweets. Musical theater. News. All variations on storytelling, for better or worse.

Bill Harley performs songs and stories “portraying contemporary American life with a slight off-center bent” at the Musical Instrument Museum on Sun, Oct 24, at 2pm.

Bill Harley performs in Phoenix Sunday

The musician, storyteller, author and playwright will share family-friendly fare with audiences at the MIM’s Music Theater — which routinely features performances by musicians from around the globe.

I spoke by phone with Harley not too long ago, and will share a bit of our conversation in a future post.

Harley’s recent works include a book titled “Between Home and School” (available Nov 1) and a CD titled “The Best Candy in the Whole World.”

We aren’t only listeners. We’re storytellers too. Especially in the words we share with our children each and ever day.

I’d like to get better at it. I’d like to feel part of the larger storytelling community. I think time spent with Lithgow and Harley will jump-start my journey.

How about you?


Note: Local resources for storytelling and creative writing include the Storytelling Institute at South Mountain Community College and the ASU Young Writers Program,

Coming up: Upcoming Arizona premieres, Getting to know Tetra Quartet, Local First and the arts


Tell me a story

Read by Betty White on "Storyline Online"

Stories are everywhere, and they’re not just for children. Here’s a sampling of local resources for story lovers of all ages, along with pictures of books currently featured in the “Storyline Online” program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

South Mountain Community College is home to the SMCC Storytelling Institute — which offers programs for students and performances open (and often free) to the public.

Their October calendar includes “Stories for Hispanic Heritate Month” (Oct 1), “Myth Informed” (Oct 11) and the “Fall Storytelling Festival” (Oct 21-22).

Other storytelling events this academic year include the “Storytelling Student Concert” (Dec 3), “Folktales for Grown-ups” (Feb 2), “Storytelling for Black History Month” (Feb 18), the “Community Storytelling Festival” (Apr 8).

Traveling storytellers often share their tales with Valley audiences at performing arts venues such as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — which presents “John Lithgow in Stories by Heart” on Oct 21 & 22, and “Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” on Jan 21, 2011.

Read by Camryn Manheim on "Storyline Online"

I relished John Lithgow’s performance as the “Trinity Killer” in HBO’s “Dexter” last season — and enjoyed watching an interview with Lithgow that aired on PBS.

Turns out he’s quite the Renaissance man — smart and skilled in the ways of poetry, theater, music, writing and more. He’s even authored children’s books that I suspect I am still young enough to enjoy.

I can’t imagine anyone (outside of Minnesota) who might be as gifted in the art of storytelling. It’s not surprising given “Lithgow’s belief that storytelling is the unacknowledged tie that binds humanity.”

“Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” features words by Spalding Gray, a longtime friend of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The 95 minute piece (suitable for ages 16+) will be performed by a four-person ensemble and a local guest reader. Though he died in 2004, Spalding’s “work lives on in this funny, poignant and ultimately life-affirming play.”

Read by Melissa Gilbert on "Storyline Online"

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe regularly hosts storytimes for youth, including a 10:15am storytime for families with toddlers and preschoolers held each Thursday (the 2nd Thursday of each month features a bilingual Spanish/English storytime). Also watch for special storytimes on Saturdays — including a “Cooking Storytime” at 10am on Sat, Oct 9.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix offers “Ollie’s Storytime Adventures” for children ages three to six and their parents. The 10am storytimes (scheduled for Oct 15, Oct 29, Nov 12 and Dec 3) introduce children to “archeology, desert wildlife, and Native American cultures.”

Sometimes the best stories come from children. The Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix presents a puppet show called “Imagine This” in November. It’s based on stories and poems written by children at Kenilworth, a pre-K through 8th grade “global community school” in the Phoenix Elementary School District #1.

Watch for storytimes at your local library, as well as other museums, bookstores and performing arts venues. If you know of a storytime not mentioned here, please comment below to let fellow readers know.

Read by Al Gore on "Storyline Online"

And stay tuned to the Arizona Humanities Council website — which notes that “stories convey our histories, traditions, social mores, beliefs and insights about what it means to be human.”

The council “creates opportunities for sharing these diverse stories through critical thinking and public discussion, to better understand and appreciate one another, so that we can make informed decisions about our collective future.”

— Lynn

Note: I felt a bit miffed recently when a broadcast journalist referred to bloggers as “blurb meisters” — In fact, many bloggers (including the “Activist Writer“) are the master storytellers of new media.

Coming up: Reel stories from the Scottsdale International Film Festival

Sexy in the city?

I was thrilled to discover yesterday that fellow RAK blogger Debra Rich Gettleman—who writes “Unmotherly Insights” amidst other gigs that include parenting, acting, playwriting and more—made the daily ‘best of blogs’ for WordPress for the second time.

Big '80s hair is back...But is it sexy?

I shared the news with my husband and daughters over dinner as we celebrated Jennifer’s move to on-campus housing, and we got to wondering whether a “Stage Mom” post might fare as well if I jazzed up some of my titles (as if yesterday’s “potluck” teaser wasn’t exciting enough).

Debra’s post (titled “Sexy mama!”) features a photo of the orange and pink Dunkin’ Donuts logo. Jennifer suggested I try a little “social experiment”–punctuating my posts with words like “sexy” for a week or so to see what happens.

I started wondering whether any of my upcoming topics might actually warrant this description. Classes offered by private performing arts studios? Nope. Museum-related careers? Nope. Teaching tolerance through the arts? Nope.

Then it came to me…

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts recently announced their upcoming season. If you think of “sexy” as intriguing, exciting and provocative, this venue clearly qualifies. Those who consider the brain a bonafide erogenous zone may be especially inclined to agree.

One of King Tut's sexier moments?

For the ‘smart equals sexy’ crowd, they’ll present the likes of singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, comedian and banjoist Steve Martin, and Tony-Award winning actor John Lithgow (known to fans of Showtime’s “Dexter” as “The Trinity Killer”).

For the ‘exotic is sexy’ arts lover, there’s the taiko drummers of Kodo—and The Mystical Arts of Tibet.

If jazz is what turns you on, get ready for jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, trumpeter Doc Severinsen & El Ritmo de la Vida, the Count Basie Orchestra and The Manhattan Transfer.

Sexy covered by a cat suit

Broadway buffs will delight in performances by Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters (who’ll grace the stage of the Virginia G. Piper Theater for the ARTrageous celebration in December) and Betty Buckley of CATS fame.

Fans of “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” on SIRIUS XM are no doubt wondering whether the “a-mah-zing” Seth Rudetsky might accompany Buckley on piano, which would merit a “sexy” and “donuts” designation from some theater folk.

If you’ve read a good sampling of my 200 + “Stage Mom” posts (I never miss a day), you can likely guess what my personal favorite for the Center’s upcoming season might be…

It’s the Merce Cunningham Dance Company “Legacy Tour,” which offers your “last opportunity to see this great American dance company perform the choreography of the late Merce Cunningham before it disbands.”

My mother told me long ago that you don’t have to reveal everything to be sexy. And so I’ll offer just a few more peeks at what the Scottsdale Center for the Arts has in store…

Sexy in a Shakespearean sort of way

Film screenings. Holiday shows. Family fare. Classical music. Shakespeare. Rock opera. Political humor. Best-selling authors. Acting workshops. Hispanic heritage celebrations. Native American song and dance. And Scottsdale traditions including “Sunday A’Fair” and the “Scottsdale Arts Festival.”

Holding back a bit also gives me another excuse to go “sexy” with future posts. So stay tuned, and check the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website in the meantime for more juicy details about all things “sexy” in their upcoming season.

When it comes to the Arizona arts scene, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts brings “sexy” to the city…