THE GREAT DIVIDE. One of the most widely produced plays this theater season explores the vast gap between racial and cultural equality in this country--a divide that continues to separate us as a nation, despite civil rights progress.
Bee-Luther-Hatchee follows African-American editor Shelita Burns who's just released a best-selling memoir by a reclusive elderly black woman. The book wins awards and the hearts of many, but as Shelita discovers in her pursuit to find the author that artists are not always what their work leads us to believe. This challenges Shelita's deeply held notions of cultural authenticity and racial integrity.
Thomas Gibbons wrote the drama as playwright-in-residence at InterAct Theater in Philadelphia. His work, garnering numerous awards and fellowships, is seen on stages around the country,
The Borderlands Theater production kicks off today and continues through March 9 at Muse's Nations Hall located at 516 N. Fifth Ave. Tonight's performance is a Pay What You Can night with a $5 minimum. Regular tickets cost $10 to $14. Shows run Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays. Call the box office for reservations at 882-7406.
EXPERIMENTS IN RECOVERY. As contemporary artists start to creep into middle age, so too does the subject of their work. Award-winning experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich screens her newest film, The Odds of Recovery, with her usual direct approach.
We get to eavesdrop on Friedrich during numerous doctors' office visits. Though she succumbs to Western treatments, she also sprinkles in doses of alternative methods to healing. As she lays bare her medical history, Friedrich addresses a perennial human problem: the desire to avoid conflict and deny the need for radical change--whether the "conflict" is menopause, a 15-year relationship, six surgeries or just growing older.
Of her work, J. Hoberman of The Village Voice says, "Friedrich makes flinty and form-minded, extremely pragmatic, highly personal, affecting movies."
Friedrich achieves this by probing all her subjects through the intimacy of emotional experience. Sexuality and religion were plumbed in Damned If You Don't; marriage and break-ups were mined in the early '90s with First Comes Love and Rules of the Road; adolescence and relationships to family round out her body of work in Sink or Swim--my personal favorite.
The Lesbian Looks Film and Video Series and The Department of Media Arts Visiting Filmmaker Series play host to tonight's screening as well as the filmmaker's cameo appearance. Su Friedrich talks about her work, old and new, at the AME Auditorium, located at the northeast corner of Mountain Avenue and Speedway Boulevard. The free screening and discussion get underway at 7:30 p.m. Call 626-3431 for details.
IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD. Zeitgeist continues its sixth season in its improvisational Jazz at the Institute series with the MAD Quartet.
The four guys who make up the pan-Western U.S. ensemble only come together occasionally to play as a group due to their far-flung home bases. But when they do, be assured, they're on the same page.
"Page?" you might ask, "They play improv music."
Their page is both a literal and proverbial one. Their in-the-moment musical explorations are choreographed seamlessly. You might think tubist Mark Weaver is the leader of the group because he writes most of the music, but his compositions are realized in an organic way as each player--trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, multi-instrumentalist Alan Lechusza and drummer Dave Wayne--responds collaboratively in creating them anew.
The MAD Quartet climbs on stage at 8 p.m. tonight at the Mat Bevel Institute (sit among Mr. Bevel's own mad sculptural creations), located at 530 N. Stone Ave. at Sixth Street. Tickets cost $8 in advance at CD Depot, the UA Student Union bookstore and Antigone Books or pay $10 at the door. For information, call 622-0192.
WHO TELLS THE STORY? In African-American families across generations, it's the Griot who continues the tradition of oral history, folklore and song: He or she is the village storyteller, the poet, the truth-bender or truth-sayer.
Tureeda Mikell hails from Oakland, Calif. She calls herself a modern-day Griot as well as a poet, writer and word historian. Her style is unique, blending biology, astronomy and physics into her poetry and stories. She was the featured storyteller for the annual National Association of Black Storytellers. Her writing has been published in more than 60 anthologies of children's poetry, and her words have sailed to far-flung places as South Africa, England and Sweden.
Black History activities this month include an afternoon of Mikell's performances today from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Fort Huachuca's LaHacienda. Tickets cost $5 and are available at all Equal Employment Opportunity offices, at the Fort or by calling (520) 533-5305. Call them for directions, too.
A STROLL AMONG THE DEAD. Don't worry; they're all 6 feet under or safely sleeping behind stone mausoleums.
Find out the history of Tucson's cemeteries, visit gravesites and hear stories of interesting characters of long-dead Tucsonans. The tour takes place at Holy Hope Cemetery, located at 3555 N. Oracle Road at 10 a.m. Meet at the circle just inside the main gate.
On Wednesday, Feb. 26, KruseArizona offers a look at the lives of some of Tucson's most prominent citizens who lived in the El Presidio neighborhood from 1890 to 1920. The walking tour starts at 10 a.m. and meets in front of the Steinfeld Mansion located at Main Avenue and Franklin Street.
Each tour costs $15 and refreshments are available at both. Call 881-1638 for reservations.
BUYER BE EDUCATED. Ever wonder if that Kachina doll is really Hopi or if that Zuni turquoise necklace the guy at the mall sold you is authentic?
Zuni artist and jeweler Loren Panteah offers tips on how to be a well-informed connoisseur in two presentations at this year's Southwest Indian Art Fair hosted by the Arizona State Museum. Learn about the stuff you buy, and buy the real thing from nearly 200 native artists. Each artisan sitting behind a table of wares has been vetted--that means they've been screened for the authenticity of their technique.
"We want the artists to get a fair price for their hard work and we also want the buyer to get the quality they believe they're paying for," explains Diane Dittemore, the museum's ethnological collections curator.
In addition to the art, there's also native foods, Navajo and Tohono O'odham weaving demonstrations and performances including music by Delphine Tsinajinnie and dance by Robert Tree Cody.
Tsinajinnie has just been named the Native American Debut Artist of the Year for her songs inspired by tribal elders. She considers music to be her first language. But she also performs in film and on stage and comes from a long history of performers. "My grandmother was an extra in an Elvis Presley movie," she adds.
The fair takes place today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum located east of UA's main gate at Park Avenue and University Boulevard. Admission costs $5 for museum members, $7 for non-members, $3 for kids 6 to 12 and free to kids under 5. Call 626-8381 for exact times of Tsinajinnie's performances and Panteah's presentations.
LOVE AND MAGIC ENTWINE. An elixir is defined as a kind of cure-all--a sweet potion capable of turning metals into gold or prolonging life indefinitely. It seems it would indeed take love and magic to achieve this.
The Elixir of Love is Donizetti's imaginative and charming exploration of this entwining. Under the auspices of the Arizona Opera, Donizetti's work shines for the first time in 12 years this weekend with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and today at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center's Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.
Backdrops painted in the grand tradition of Italian scenic perspective capture the lush Tuscan countryside. Members of the opera company intone a tale of love triangles, mix-ups and amour-inducing potions. Alicia Berneche, a regular with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, stars as Adina with Don Frazure and Scott Scully alternating as her lover, Nemorino.
Tickets cost $25 to $90. Call Ticketmaster at 321-1000 or Arizona Opera at 293-4336 for details or reservations.
WIDE SCREEN ASIAN POETRY. You may have read Hermann Hesse's now-classic book, Siddhartha, but have you ever seen it on the big screen?
Conrad Rooks has produced the celluloid version. It's an evocation of the Buddha, a search for self-knowledge and the divine within. Filmed on location in India, cinematographer Sven Nykvist has captured the rich beauty of this ancient land for the story of one young Brahmin's spiritual quest that takes him through asceticism, sexual passion, wealth and, finally peace as a humble ferryman.
The Screening Room plays host to this film plus Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?--another cinematic feast. Written, directed, shot and produced entirely by South Korean painting professor Bae Yong-Kyun, it's a poetic story of an aging monk and his two disciples who retreat to an ascetic mountaintop monastery seeking spiritual enlightenment. There's a theme here.
The films are screened Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (Siddhartha) and 6 p.m. (Bodhi-Dharma) and today at 7 and 4 p.m. respectively. The Screening Room is located at 127 E. Congress St. Tickets cost $5 for either film. Call for details at 622-2262.
TAKE FLUFFY WHEN YOU MOVE. One of the most frequent excuses for dumping a cat at the local animal shelter is its human companion is relocating to a new home. If the frisky feline isn't sharp enough to jump into the back of the U-Haul, she often ends up homeless.
Tonight, Lori Poppa, the Facility Director for Tucson's Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter, provides valuable information on how to travel with your companion animal. Poppa details safety, health and behavioral issues you might encounter as the adventure in moving begins.
The lecture starts at 7 p.m. at Bookman's at 6230 E. Speedway Blvd. near Wilmot Road. It's free. Fluffy will thank you, with extra purrs. For details, call 514-6025.
AND THEY ALL GOT ALONG. The intersection of religions guiding Southwestern U.S. life spans generations. Whether everyone was content with the glut of religiosity is explored in a Tohono Chul Park lecture.
Alex Nava teaches in the religious studies department at the University of Arizona. Tonight he looks at the history of venerating certain saints--St. Francis, for example--and the influences of Father Kino and the missionaries who first came to this part of the New World. He talks about the blending of Yaqui and Tarahumara traditions with Christianity as well as the upsurge of religious symbols--like the icon of the virgin of Guadalupe--and contemporary revivals of the Feast of the Day of the Dead.
The lecture starts at 7 p.m. at the park located at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. Admission costs $4 for members and $8 for nonmembers. For information, call 742-6455.
ILLUSIONS AND MIRRORS. The year is 1950. Will and his pampered wife, Lily Dale, are trying to come to grips with the drowning of their only son. Optimism is fading as Will also loses his job and discovers that Lily Dale has been giving money away to a supposed friend of their son.
The Young Man From Atlanta is a simple play in which a mirror is held up to reveal the illusions this couple has lived with and the changes they must make to meet the future. Horton Foote won a 1995 Pulitzer for his drama that New York's Newsday says, "... sneaks up on you, seducing with a density unparalleled in any work of a living playwright."
Live Theater Workshop presents one performance only today at 7:30 p.m. as part of its Reader's Theater series. It's free and you can reserve a seat by calling 327-4242. The show takes place at Smuggler's Inn at 6350 E. Speedway Blvd. near Wilmot.