Tag Archives: Teatro Bravo

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.


— 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!


Finding Frida

The “Modern Mexican Painting” exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum features 80 paintings, 45 artists and 7 themes — including urban artists, surrealism and more. The works were created between 1910 and 1950 by artists that include Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and Jose Clemente Orozco.

This Miramax film will be shown Sunday at the Phoenix Art Museum

A work by Frida Kahlo is part of the museum’s permanent collection, and folks interested in Kahlo’s work can attend a free screening of the Miramax film titled “Frida” at 1pm on Sun, July 10 (space is limited and the film has an “R” rating). “Frida” is directed by Julie Taymor, best known to some for her work on Broadway. Think “The Lion King,” “The Green Bird,” and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” The film has an impressive cast, and you can click here for details about the film’s development.

A local theater company called Teatro Bravo is opening a play titled “Frida Kahlo” on Sept 23 at Playhouse-on-the-Park (located in the Viad Building just across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum).

Teatro Bravo describes the work as a “vivid theatrical experience” that “tells the story of the pain and passion of one of the most original women ever to have lived.”

It explores her “complex relationship with prominent painter Diego Rivera” as well as her “controversial affair with Leon Trotsky” and her “provocative romantic entanglements with women.”

Erica Alexandria Mathlin stars in the Teatro Bravo production of Frida Kahlo

Director Israel Jimenez, who acts with Childsplay in Tempe and teaches at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, says he’s long admired the work of both Teatro Bravo and actor Erica Mathlin, who will play Frida as a teen through the age of 47.

Jimenez describes Mathlin as “incredibly talented” but says “this is not an easy role.” Erica has the task, he says, of portraying one of history’s most “iconic, revolutionary and original women” during “the most high-stakes moments of her life.”

“As an artist,” muses Jimenez, “it is not difficult to relate to Frida’s passion for self-expression.” Jimenez, who was born in Mexico City, says the play has “given me the chance to reconnect with my Mexican culture.” He’s enjoying explorations of Mexican traditions, history and art.

Teatro Bravo presents the play Frida Kahlo for just seven dates this fall

So what has he discovered about Kahlo? “Frida had great mystery to her,” reflects Jimenez. “She was a magician when it came to illusions. The way she dressed, the way she wrote in her diary, and of course her art — she always left you wondering what secrets lay underneath.”

“I am always surprised,” adds Jimenez, “at just how much this woman was able to do in the face of such painful obstacles.” Jimenez notes that much of Kahlo’s work was highly disturbing. “She painted images of herself and others in their broken, bloody and explicity painful form.”

Still, he finds “power and strength” in her work. “Unlike most popular artists of the time,” observes Jimenez, “Frida painted the hidden parts of her consciousness with remarkable visceral imagery.”

Explore this book by Margaret Frith if your family enjoys illustrations by Tomie dePaola

Jimenez says he admires Kahlo’s passion. “Whether it was for politics, for expression, or for love and acceptance,” reflects Jimenez, “she had an undying will for life.” All this despite the fact that “death haunted her from a very young age.”

Time spent with Kahlo’s story has inspired Jimenez to allow his voice to be heard “without hesitation” — even “when the road brings heartbreak and pain.” He shares that as a director he wants to “portray a side of Frida that is much more personal and intimate than what people have seen before.”

Though Jimenez says the production is most appropriate for “mature audiences,” he notes that “Frida is an incredible inspiration for young audiences.” Jimenez says he “wouldn’t hesitate” to bring younger theater-goers, especially those who enjoy theatrical elements like puppetry and mask work, along.

Phoenix Art Museum and Teatro Bravo offer rich opportunities to learn more about Latino arts and culture. And as Jimenez appears to have discovered for himself, time spent “finding Frida” is a lovely exercise in finding oneself.

— Lynn

Note: “Frida Kahlo” was written by Ruben Amavizca-Murua, with English translation by Liane Schirmer and Eve Muller. It’s being presented as part of the CALA Arts Festival with support from the CALA Alliance.

Coming up: Art meets bullying prevention

The many faces of Childsplay

I’ll be donning my party clothes Friday night to join the fine folks of Childsplay for their “Childsplay Celebrates Its Greatest Hits Gala,” which kicks off at 6pm at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

Memories of my last Childsplay shindig are still fresh. And fabulous. Think all the energy and fun of a Childsplay production for children translated into the realm of grown-ups — but with no less imagination and wonder.

Lillian Castillo with Childsplay associate artist D. Scott Withers, who appeared in HAIRSPRAY with Phoenix Theatre late last year (Photo: Laura Durant)

Lillian Castillo (L) and D. Scott Withers in a Phoenix Theatre photo by Laura Durant

I’ve had Childsplay on the brain lately because it seems that everywhere I turn I discover another Childsplay artist lending his or her talents to additional creative enterprises — from television commercials to musical theater productions in other parts of the country.

D. Scott Withers, who performed the role of “Edna Turnblad” in this season’s Phoenix Theatre production of “Hairspray,” has been reprising the role with Arkansas Repertory Theatre (along with Lillian Castillo, who plays “Tracy Turnblad”) in a production that runs through May 8.

Jon Gentry (L) and D. Scott Withers perform in a Childsplay production of A Year With Frog and Toad (Photo: Heather Hill)

Allison Couture, whose husband recently left the touring production of “Billy Elliot The Musical” to accept a role in “Jersey Boys” on Broadway, worked for a time with the children in the “Billy Elliot” cast. Both are now NYC-bound.

Israel Jimenez, who teaches at Arizona School for the Arts, is known to many as “the face of SRP.” You’ll see his mug in commercials and on billboards throughout the Valley. Jimenez teaches ballroom dance at a local Fred Astaire Dance Studio (swoon) and is readying to direct “Frida” for Teatro Bravo.

Kim Manning is currently performing the role of “Liliane La Fleur” in the musical “Nine” at Phoenix Theatre, which you can enjoy through May 8.

Molly Lajoie Plutnicki teaches dance at Mesa Arts Academy and also keeps busy choreographing various theater productions. She’s both director and choreographer for Greasepaint Youtheatre’s “Schoolhouse Rock,” opening Fri, May 6 at Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale.

Yolanda London in a Black Theatre Troupe photo by Laura Durant

Yolanda London is rehearsing for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a one-woman show about the life of singer Billie Holiday that Black Theatre Troupe of Phoenix opens May 13.

Todd Hulet recently staged a production of his original musical titled “The Wheels on the Bus” for Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge in Washington.

Toby Yatso teaches at Arizona School for the Arts, and is nearly impossible to keep up with when it comes to acting, directing and other theater gigs throughout the Valley.

Yolanda London performs in the Childsplay production of Tomato Plant Girl (Photo: Heather Hill)

My soon to be 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth has trained with the talented artists of Childsplay for at least half her lifetime. She’s taken classes, attended summer camps, participated in the Childsplay conservatory program and more.

Childsplay has given her extraordinary opportunities to study with several of the Valley’s very finest theater talents — those noted above and many others. 

As we attend the “Childsplay Celebrates” gala Friday night, I’ll be celebrating not only the arts in education programs that’ll be funded with event proceeds, but the many gifts this theater company has bestowed on us.

— Lynn

Note: Click here  for “Childsplay Celebrates Its Greatest Hits Gala” event and ticketing information. The evening features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, dinner and entertainment. (Bring your teacher, birthday and holiday gift lists to snag all sorts of fun finds at the auction.) Click here for a full roster of Childsplay company and staff (including associate artists, members of the acting company, teaching artists and others).

Coming: Valley museums celebrate “International Museum Day” with special events and discounts

Call for children’s artwork: I’m looking for photos, drawings, paintings and such with a garden theme for Friday’s post celebrating “National Public Gardens Day.” To submit your child’s work for possible use in the garden post, please send it to me at rakstagemom@gmail.com no later than 5pm Thurs, May 5 (include your child’s first name, age, city and your contact info too). Thanks!

Art meets community college

Head to SCC Wednesday for a film documenting the voyage of German Jews aboard a ship that no one wanted

Looking for low-cost or no-cost dance, music and theater productions? Fond of supporting the creativity of local students and those who teach them? Eager to experience art or film you won’t see elsewhere?

Then check out these offerings coming soon to Valley community colleges.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents…

“Get a Life” — an original CGCC production that “explores all the little things in life that drive us crazy from the cradle through the golden years.” March 24-27.

“14” — a play by Jose Casas that’s “based on interviews with Arizonans and their various different attitudes towards the contemporary issues of undocumented immigration.” Performed by Teatro Bravo April 1 & 2.

Mesa Community College presents…

“Student Art Show” — featuring diverse works of visual art. April 11-21.

“Almost Maine” — a play by John Cariani about residents of a “remote, mythical town” in which “residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways.” April 22-30.

Paradise Valley Community College presents…

“Rumors” — a play by Neil Simon that recounts the adventures of four upper class couples embarrased by unexpected circumstances. April 9-17.

“Spring Dance Collection 2011” — a “compilation of dance works” choreographed by dance and adjunct faculty. Includes modern dance, jazz, ballet, hip hop, ballroom and other forms of dance. April 29 & 30.

Scottsdale Community College presents…

“Voyage of the St. Louis” — a documentary film that’s part of the SCC and Anti-Defamation League “The Many Faces of Hate” film series. It recounts the journey of 937 German Jews denied haven in 1939 by “every country in the Americas.” March 23.

Unique plays coming soon to Valley community colleges include SCC performances of works by Eugene Ionesco (Photo: Laura Durant)

“The Bald Chairs” — two one-act plays by Eugene Ionesco, both “from the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd, a genre that often includes irony, slapstick humor and word play.”  March 31-April 9.

Each of these community colleges — as well as other community colleges in the greater Phoenix metro area — list art, dance, film, music and theater events online.

With just a little legwork, you can uncover a multitude of low-cost and no-cost events to enjoy with family and friends while supporting the budding artists in our midst.

— Lynn

Note: Our state universities — ASU, NAU and UA — also offer a wealth of visual and performance art open to the public. So stay tuned to their online calendars as well.

Coming up: More free and discounted arts events

Bollywood & beyond

A young dancer enjoys a class with Kriti Dance (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

I was delighted to hear recently from a dance school that specializes in Bollywood dance, which has its origins in India’s film industry. It seems I’ve been invited to participate in a dance class — just to get a feel for this “contemporary and innovative” dance form.

The website for Kriti Dance readily notes that participants have been known to giggle a bit when first experiencing the unique waist and hip movements used in Bollywood dance — but I suspect that hearty laughter might be more likely with me (and my thickening body parts) in the room.

I’m opting instead to share the happy news that Kriti Dance, which recently performed during a Phoenix Mercury halftime, will begin a new session of classes at Dance Connection 2 in Chandler on Sept 11. It’s a tough day in so many ways — so I’m pleased to share a fun and fit way to dance away part of the day.

Classes for adults and teens start at 10:30am, with classes for 9- to 13-year olds starting at 11:30am and classes for 5- to 8-year-olds starting at 12:30pm. You can visit their website to learn more — and drop me a thank you note later for the decision to leave my hips at home (for now).

Kriti Dance offers fun and fitness for all ages (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

My weekend calendar is already plenty full — driving Lizabeth to and from a community service gig, seeing The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre present a semi-staged production of “The Music Man,” and joining Lizabeth at the National Youth Theatre awards being held at Valley Youth Theatre.

Tonight we’ll be attending the first production of the 2010-2011 Southwest Shakespeare Company season at Mesa Arts Center — complete with red carpet flair and a fabulously fun photo contest. We’ll have to miss Sunday’s preview of Childsplay’s “A Year With Frog and Toad” so Lizabeth can see an ASA teacher perform in another show, but that just gives us more to look forward to next weekend.

There’s no lack of arts experiences in the Valley this weekend, so here’s a sampling of your many options to help you plan your family together time…

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in northwest Phoenix offers half-price admisson to grandparents from 8am-2pm on Sun, Sept 12, in honor of Grandparents Day. Who’s to say that grandma won’t want to enjoy both petroglyphs and Bollywood dance in one weekend? Admit it — Bollywood dance is probably on your “bucket list” too.

Why not celebrate Grandparents Day in Bollywood style? (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

If you’re an artist eager to learn more about using technologies in art making and/or arts promotion, check out the Sept 11 STEWshop from Urban Stew. It’s one of a series of arts and technology workshops they’ll hold each second Saturday of the month between Sept 2010 and Feb 2011.

Children and their adults can enjoy making art together at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix Art Studio — which provides materials for making a special Grandparents Day gift in the studio this weekend.

Head to Chandler Center for the Arts if you love all things musical theater and musical standards. Valley favorites Rusty Ferracane and Christine Drathman will join composer/arranger Craig Bohmler and “top Valley musicians” for “That’s Life…from Sinatra to Sondheim.” (Perhaps we could persuade the trio to add a bit of Bollywood dance to the gig.)

Creative Stage Youth Theatre is eager to show off their new performing space at a free open house Sept 11 from 4-7pm at 19209 N. 83rd Ave (Ste 105) in Peoria — which is a great opportunity to learn more about their upcoming season.

When in doubt, just dance! (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona presents their 37th annual celebration of Mexican Independence Day with flamenco dance, folk music and children’s activities to include face painting and juggling demonstrations. Remind me to drop them a thank you note for the lovely mental image I just got of attempting to juggle while doing my Bollywood thing.

If you share my love of social justice theater, check out the work of Teatro Bravo at a “pay what you can” performance of “Manzi: The Advenures of Young Cesar Chavez” this evening at the Metropolitan Arts Theatre in Phoenix. It’s “a tale for the entire family” about the legendary advocate of farm workers’ rights — and runs through Sept 19.

So there you have it. Bollywoood and flamenco. Art and technology. Sinatra and Sondheim. If that doesn’t make you want to swivel those hips while gyrating that waist, I don’t know what will.


Note: Today marks the opening of the “Opera & Ballet in Cinema Series” presented by Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures. You’re in luck if you’re reading this in time to make it to the 11am live broadcast of “Cosi Fan Tutte” at Arrowhead Fountains 18 or Scottsdale 101 14. Visit www.harkinstheatres.com for ticket availability and pricing, and information on upcoming shows in the series. I can tell you from experience that tickets go quickly so don’t delay in deciding which of European operas and ballets presented in Hi-Definition digital projection you’d like to experience.

Coming up: Art and body image, Coupling fine arts and dual language instruction, The shape of social justice

Audition/Call for artists alert! Auditions will be held this weekend for productions of “The Nutcracker” by both Baller Etudes and Ballet Arizona. CONDER/dance is calling for submissions (from choreographers, dance filmmakers and performance artists) for the 4th annual “Breaking Ground” festival to be held Dec 10 & 11 at Tempe Center for the Arts.