Underfunded Masterpiece

All Souls' Procession

STAFF PICK: In Mexico, as November's elaborate All Souls' Day celebration approaches, it is customary for people to offer, alongside candles and full suppers and even beer, scrumptious cakes, pounds of chocolates and shelf after shelf of sweetbreads and cakes. Your mouths may water, children, but be patient: These goodies are for the altar of the dead. The annual All Souls' Procession in Tucson is incredibly well orchestrated, and succeeds in stirring up a spirituality as palpable and festive as its namesake demands. Months of free workshops at Tucson Puppetworks' studio culminate in a sea of puppets, skeletons, beasts and angels, all masterfully macabre. The parade is attended by thousands, with the line between participant and spectator lapsing into an electrifying blur, and it terminates in a glorious primordial dance, followed by Flam Chen and similarly mesmerizing guest fire performers, musicians and hundreds of spectators caught up in the festivities. And this year could be even bigger after the accolades drawn by last year's procession, most notably from the New York Times on the cover of its Sunday Travel section. But November is approaching, and the dead may not be getting their due: For all the lip-service devoted to supporting the procession, funding every year thus far has been left entirely to the devoted community of artists and participants that somehow manages to keep it going--for now. Oh, did we say entirely? Excuse us: A grant from the Arts District Partnership for a whole $100 toward last year's procession was worth a tray or two of cookies on the altar; Brooklyn Pizza Co. donated more than that in pies. The city gave nothing. But the mood does not falter; the procession will no doubt be as entrancing as ever this year, and may all of us get our just desserts. Join the All Souls' Procession on Saturday, November 3 at dusk downtown. For more information, call Tucson Puppetworks at 770-1533.
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