El Centro Su Teatro's annual Neruda Poetry Festival and Barrio Slam events are all about instilling a new appreciation for literacy in Chicano youth through a series of in-school residencies designed to get kids excited about putting words together in a creative way. The wordplay culminates with tonight's Barrio Slam, which starts at 8 p.m. at the theater, 4725 High Street. And this year, El Centro has raised the bar a notch by bringing in a trio of nationally recognized Chicano performance poets to act as both judges and performers. Collaborating as the Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, Californians Paul Flores and Marc David Pinate and Texan Amalia Ortiz will help top off the festival and slam tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Auraria's King Center, 855 Lawrence Way, with their joint project, Los Tres Brown Hearts, a round robin of individual and group performances.
"We are three Chicano artists trying to inspire young people to appreciate spoken word as an art form, but also as a form of media," says Flores, the group's spokesman. "The kids we're trying to reach are really a new generation. They're more media-savvy; their language is quicker; they're more influenced by hip-hop than by the blues or Santana." Using hip-hop cadences is just one way the trio tells it like it is.
"The last poem we do is about the issue of spoken word being more truthful -- and it's not always pretty," Flores adds. "People don't always want to hear it, but the truth is coming out, and you might just hear it from your local poet."
Tickets are $5 to $8 for tonight's show, $10 to $13 for tomorrow's. Discount packages are available; call 303-296-0219 or log on to www.suteatro.org for details. -- Susan Froyd
Arcos Azules steps out of the shadow
The only hint of a man on the poster for the Arcos Azules theater company's debut show, House of Bernarda Alba, is a male shadow -- the unseen presence that the characters in Federico García Lorca's play must confront. Of course, the director and all the cast members of this Alba -- which opens at 8 p.m. tonight in the New Federal Theater -- are female.
In a subtle way, though, the poster image also symbolizes the upstart company. The troupe is trying to establish an identity in the shadowy, uncertain world of local theater. According to producer Kurt Lewis, after the well-regarded Horsechart Theater with which he was affiliated folded, he helped form Arcos Azules, which translates as "blue bridges," a name he fancies. Arcos Azules picked Lorca's early-twentieth-century classic for its first production as a way to reach out to area residents, particularly Hispanics, in hopes that they will walk over to the theater at 3830 Federal Boulevard.
The group is making a documentary about all the effort that led up to opening night; copies will be available at the midpoint of the show's seven-week run. Tickets to House of Bernarda Alba are $10-$15; call 303-571-0901 for more information. -- Ernie Tucker
Lots of fans were left out in the cold last January when David Bowie's Reality Tour stopover at the Fillmore Auditorium sold out in a flash, but tonight they'll get a second chance to see him at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. The Thin White Duke brings his extravagant road show, complete with all the bells and whistles and anthems, to Larimer County's fancy new 6,500-seat arena at Crossroads Boulevard and I-25. The Polyphonic Spree, an ensemble that's an event in itself, opens the show at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, $41.50 to $77, call 1-877-544-TIXX or log on to www.cc.com. -- Susan Froyd
Mariachi Spectacular benefits young musicians
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Audience members will be swept away at tonight's Mariachi Spectacular benefit concert for El Mariachi Juvenil de Bryant Webster, a musical group made up of students from northwest Denver's Bryant Webster Elementary School. "When you hear them play, you'll be amazed at the quality of the sound that these kids are producing after only one year of practice," says assistant principal and band director Pamela Liñan. "I promise that you'll be impressed."
Along with classic songs performed by the 25 third- to fifth-grade students, the concert will feature professional troupe El Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra. Tickets are $10.
"Mariachi is very difficult to learn," says Liñan. "We're hoping that the community will come out to support us."
The concert begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Horace Mann Middle School, 4130 Navajo Street. For more information, call 303-433-3336 or visit www.dpsk12.org. -- Julie Dunn