In the five years since its inception, Ladyfest has blossomed into a bona fide international phenomenon. Humbly conceived in Olympia, Washington, as a showcase to celebrate and encourage the artistic, organizational and political work and talents of women, Ladyfest has gone on to help launch such notable bands as Le Tigre and catch the attention of like-minded organizers from Dresden to Brisbane, who keep the spirit of the festival alive with their own unique, localized takes. Denver's vision manifested itself in Ladyfest Out West, which premiered in 2003 and returns next month with a wide variety of musical performances, films, workshops and visual art. Organizers of this year's three-day fest are hoping to whittle admission costs to $5 a head, so they've organized a fundraiser to help. Ladybeat, a dance-party benefit, gets under way tonight at 9 p.m. at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway.
"This will be more of a free atmosphere," comments Al Gilbert, aka DJ Big Al, who will spin tonight along with DJ Julie and Westword's own DJ Jason Heller. "It won't be your regular thugs-hitting-on-girls-at-a-bar situation; it's more like come as you really want to be."
To encourage this unfettered celebration, all three DJs will dress in drag, and cross-dressing benefit-goers will have to relinquish only $2 at the door instead of the regular $6 fee. And they'll be spinning all female artists, all night. "It will help us all see the enormous influence women have had on the rock scene," Gilbert says. "We won't be able to play ZZ Top, but I think we'll manage." For more information, check out www.hi-dive.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Local actors put Shakespeare on the spot.
Medieval pimps and prostitutes square off tonight in a condensed version of Shakespeare's dark comedy Measure for Measure. It's the maiden voyage for No Holds Bard, a troupe of veteran Denver-based actors who prefer doing things the old-fashioned way. "In Shakespeare's time, there weren't Xerox machines or printing presses, so he'd write his play with all the mistakes and cross-outs, then give it to the scribe, who'd make a fair copy for the prompter," says Tim Grant, who plays the philosophical smut-cleaner, Duke Vincentio. "The actors got cue scripts on a roll of parchment and didn't have time to rehearse. "Our approach is different from the stoic approach with soliloquies delivered out into the ether," Grant continues. "It's very fast-paced and animated. None of us have ever seen the full script, and the audience knows that the actors don't know exactly what's going on. It's almost like the joy that people get watching Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
The wordplay starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre, 38th Avenue and Tennyson Street; a donation of $5 is suggested, and lawn chairs and picnic baskets are permitted. For information, call 303-564-1374. -- John LaBriola
Mind Over Matter
In need of a mental conundrum? Meet My ³I² the Mad Molecule will leave you with plenty to ponder. For the show, independent dance company ICEDFACADE delves into everyday life, exploring people's perceptions of everything from gravity to waffles through dance, theater vignettes, audience participation and slides. The experience is sure to make you "see beyond what your memory can hold on to," says choreographer Natalie Taylor. Shows are tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. Tickets, $8 to $11, are available in advance at the Buffalo Exchange, 230 East 13th Street, or at the door. -- Amelia Langer
This Old House
Stephen Batura brings his eye for history to Robischon.
Stephen Batura is known for painstaking works that shadow, if not exactly re-create, old photographs of train wrecks and other visions of the past. He's the darling of Denver, painting murals all over the city, including a monumental-sized one inside the soon-to-be-unveiled Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Despite such a commission, Batura is still producing new works that will fit on a gallery wall. Get a glimpse of his work today, when Neighborhood, a series of images thoughtfully lifted from historical snapshots of Denver houses, circa 1905 or so, opens at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street. "The vagueness of them is what attracts me," Batura says of his subject matter. "I'm trying not to be nostalgic; it's a real tightrope walk, trying to keep away from sentimentalizing things."
He succeeds: Instead of old memories, the works exude mystery and encourage personal storytelling.
The show continues through September 17; for more information, call 303-298-7788 or visit www.robischongallery.com. -- Susan Froyd