Since its inception five years ago, Stories on Stage has been a noble experiment, blending the best of literature and theater into a series of transcendent moments, bringing words to life through a host of fine actors. And the series has stuck to its original community-building vision: Not just a wonderful creative lark, SOS strives to touch audiences with lasting messages that might keep them talking after the lights come up.
Today's season opener, Only in America, which falls on the weighted date of September 11, straightforwardly aims to bring people together in the wake of political rifts brought on by the 9/11 tragedy and its aftermath.
"Now things have gotten so contentious, we don't hear each other anymore," says SOS founder Norma Moore. "We already know what they're going to say." She decided to challenge the national standoff by presenting visionary speeches by two great presidents, one liberal and one conservative, read by orators whose beliefs oppose those of the original speakers. She enlisted former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb to emote Ronald Reagan's farewell address from 1992, while actor Jamie Horton takes on Franklin Roosevelt's second inaugural address. Moore calls it an exercise in learning to listen and understand. "We're trying not to agitate," she insists. "We're all plenty agitated enough."
Shows are at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; for tickets, $20, call 303-494-0523 or visit www.storiesonstage.org. -- Susan Froyd
Eighty-two-year-old New Mexican weaver Eppie Archuleta, whose work is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, will be an honored guest at this year's Chile Harvest Festival at the Denver Botanic Gardens. And that's just one of the many reasons the fest is one of those not-to-miss Denver events. Small and deep, it not only embraces a culture with centuries-old roots in the region, but makes everyone a part of it, offering tasty food with a chile bite, live Latin music and dance, and a fabulous display of folk art.
Attend the fest from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow at the Gardens, 1005 York Street; admission is $5 to $9, or $25 for a family of five. Call 720-865-3500 or go to www.botanicgardens.org. -- Susan Froyd
Blood on the Class
A prof explores the gospel according to Bob.
In the early '60s, Dick Weissman, then a member of a folk trio dubbed the Journeymen, ran in the same Greenwich Village circles as the young Bob Dylan. Yet Weissman knows the time they spent together gave him the merest glimpse into the soul of the former Robert Zimmerman. "There were many Bob Dylans," he says.
A former professor at the University of Colorado at Denver now living in Oregon, Weissman plans to explore all the Bobs during Like a Rolling Stone: The Music, Lyrics and Legend of Bob Dylan, a non-credit course at the University of Denver's University College. Three classroom sessions are supplemented by a concert at Swallow Hill's Tuft Theatre titled "An Evening of Bob Dylan, Without Bob Dylan!" The show will feature Weissman, Harry Tuft and Rich Moore sharing songs and anecdotes about the onetime Conscience of His Generation.
Classes begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight, and again Thursday, September 15 and Monday, September 19. The course costs $175; call 303-871-2291 to register. The concert is slated for 8 p.m. Friday, September 23 at Swallow Hill, 71 East Yale, and is open to the public. Tickets are $12; call 303-777-1003 for details. -- Michael Roberts
The latest edition of Copper Nickel is shiny.
Jake Adam York is psyched: The Alabama poet, who teaches creative writing and poetics at CU-Denver, emphatically thinks that the new (and fourth) issue of the student-run literary journal he co-edits, Copper Nickel, is the best ever. With a newly minted copy in his hand, he blurts it out over the phone. "I've never been involved with anything that looks this good," he crows, and you've just gotta believe it.
For one thing, York says, it's more artful than previous issues: Copper Nickel 4's mélange of writing, done by both local and national authors, had to be thoughtfully matched with the publication's artwork -- not just in context, but in shape. The analog photography used throughout jumps off the page with humming color, and the writing -- from Bryan Fierro's short story "Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul" to the coolly psycho-scientific poems of CSU instructor Jen Lamb -- is, in York's opinion, "top-notch. We pulled something rich out of the soil here and tried to alloy it with the national, and that mixture was key to the finished product."
The proud papa will be behind the bar (and collecting tips for the little lit mag) tonight at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place, for an issue-release celebration and reading from 5 to 9 p.m.; admission is free, but copies of Copper Nickel 4 will be available for $5. For information, go to www.copper-nickel.org. -- Susan Froyd