Browncoats for Charity
17 W. Congress St.
5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22
Fox Tucson Theatre
To say Browncoats are simply fans of Joss Whedon and his cinematic creations would be a grave understatement.
"It actually means so much more than just the term 'browncoat.' For me, it's a group of incredible people who I've done charitable work with," said Shelby McBride, president of the Arizona Browncoats and coordinator of "Can't Stop the Serenity."
The event is an annual tradition for Browncoats around the world. The group takes its name from the distinctive attire worn by rebel soldiers in Firefly, a science-fiction TV show set in 2517 that ran for one season in 2002. The full-length film Serenity was released in 2005 and follows where the show left off.
The Arizona Browncoats have hosted the event in Tucson and Phoenix since 2006 and have raised more than $45,000, McBride said. The festivities include a raffle, a costume contest, a video-gaming hub and a screening of Serenity.
The proceeds benefit Equality Now, a global human-rights organization, and the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona.
"They (Browncoats) really look and see there are things that are not right in the world, and things need to change," McBride said. "We go out there, and we stand for equality for everyone."
The Arizona chapter counts more than 200 members in its Yahoo! group, but McBride expects membership will grow.
"We know people are Browncoats," she said, "They just don't know it yet. Just give it time—we'll get you."
Tickets are $10, or $8 for military members, seniors and students, and can be purchased at the Fox Tucson Theatre box office or at foxtucsontheatre.ticketforce.com. —M.D.
Picnic With Shakespeare
El Rio Theatre Project's Shakespeare in the Park: The Taming of the Shrew
7 p.m., Friday through Sunday, Sept. 21 through 23; Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 27 through Oct. 7
1000 N. Tucson Blvd.791-5909
There's sometimes a language barrier between William Shakespeare and readers or viewers of his works.
Michael Givens, recreation coordinator for El Rio Theatre Project, confessed he had hit a wall with the Bard's Elizabethan English. When Givens started directing plays, he had doubts about directing any Shakespearean classics. "I would read them and ask, 'What did I just read?'" he said. "And then I read them again, and I still wasn't sure of what I just read."
It wasn't until Givens read Much Ado About Nothing that he began to understand the beauty in Shakespeare's literature. "The language barriers started deteriorating, and I started embracing Shakespeare's pieces," he said. "The more I got to know him, the more accessible he became to me."
Out of this breakthrough came Shakespeare in the Park, a local tradition celebrating its sixth year.
With Shakespeare in the Park, Givens hopes to help others overcome the language barriers that keep them from appreciating Shakespeare. To make the plays more accessible to people, Givens said, he rewrites certain parts, because "if I read one sentence eight times, and I don't know what it means, most of the audience won't know what it means, either."
This year, El Rio Theatre Project will present The Taming of the Shrew.
"I want people to enjoy Shakespeare," Givens said. "We have been working hard on this play, and to have people come and enjoy it makes the hard work worthwhile."
Admission is free but donations ($5 is recommended) will be accepted. Playgoers are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic food. —I.T.
Thursday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 23
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
1145 E. Fort Lowell Road
The Tucson Greek Festival is 37 years old this year, but Genie Gekas' connection predates even the first festival.
"My family was one of the first pioneer families that started the Greek (Orthodox) Church in Tucson," Gekas said. Her father helped build St. Demetrios from its origins as a small gathering in a home to a congregation of more than 300 families.
Now, some 65 years after the church was founded in 1947, the Greek Festival has evolved to take a wider look at Greek culture.
The festival is "not only full of food and culinary things, but also music, crafts and educational lectures," Gekas said. "It allows us to show the community who we are."
Three to five lectures are scheduled each day, and the topics range from ancient Greek warriors to Greek humor, history and archeology. The rhythmically inclined can learn traditional Grecian folk dance from the Panathenian Dancers, or just watch the pros take the stage.
Many will be dancing their way to the food, one of the largest attractions at the festival. Among the offerings are roasted lamb shank, Greek-style lasagna and saganaki. The food can be washed down with Greek beer and wine, and attendees should save room for baklava. The Greek Festival website claims the flaky layers of phyllo dough, sugar and cinnamon are "directly from heaven."
The festival will also feature a slew of other activities, from food demonstrations to vendors selling traditional herbs.
"You can't do it all in one visit," Gekas said.
Admission is $3 a day, or $5 for a four-day pass. Children younger than 12 are admitted for free. Proceeds benefit St. Demetrios and its ministries. —M.D.
All Things Chinese
Saturday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 30
A trip to China would take more than 900 hours of kayaking and driving from Tucson, according to Google Maps. But activities at the Chinese Culture Festival are no more than a short car ride from most Tucson homes.
Chinese Health Day on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Reid Park, kicks off the festival with performances by martial-arts and tai chi masters; lessons in traditional Chinese medicine; and free admission to Reid Park Zoo.
The weeklong celebration is the product of collaboration between the University of Arizona's Confucius Institute and local partners such as the Chinese Cultural Center.
"The Confucius Institute is trying to provide a platform for culture exchange," said Zhao Chen, co-director of the institute. "One important thing for people to remember is the Chinese have a long history and different aspects of culture."
The festival gives those of Chinese heritage a reminder of their homeland, and those unfamiliar with the country a taste of Chinese culture. Lectures throughout the week will touch on Chinese music, cinema and martial arts. There will also be a Chinese poetry concert and celebration of Chinese language.
A Moon Festival Concert, at UA Crowder Hall, will cap off the week on Sunday, Sept. 30. The Moon Festival celebrates the fall harvest, much like Thanksgiving, and is one of China's largest annual holidays.
Confucius Institute staff member Larry Lang, who moved to Tucson from Beijing 35 years ago, said, "It's great to have a Chinese experience right at home in Tucson."
Admission to all events is free. Visit confucius.arizona.edu for a complete schedule. —M.D.