Thom Paine: based on nothing is a very odd play, a sort of bubble held together by a skin of words, and at its center is a single performer who keeps inventing and reinventing himself, creating varying personae out of phrases, cliches, story fragments and bits of stage business. How do you play an empty, grinning, cursing thing like this? Erik Tieze figured it out with a performance as precise and controlled as it was strong and dynamic, holding the audience spellbound with an intelligent but manic energy, blasts of feeling alternating with understated irony.
Rachel Corrie, a young American who went to Gaza to witness the plight of those who live there, was killed by an Israeli tank while attempting to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. My Name Is Rachel Corrie is pieced together from her e-mails and journal entries. At one point she writes a friend, begging him to join the cause. "Come here," she says, "come here" — playfully, seductively, urgently, perhaps a dozen times over. Julie Rada made that passage sing, providing one of the most touching moments on the Denver stage this season. She played Rachel Corrie with generous-hearted understatement, and with her dignity conveyed just what we'd lost with the death of this bright-souled, idealistic girl.
Willy Sutton from Regis University put together two impressive exhibits in the O'Sullivan Art Gallery that looked like a singular presentation. Sutton paired Denver's Kevin O'Connell and Boulder's Richard Van Pelt, both landscape photographers. O'Connell, who is best known for his luxuriously done platinum prints of the Colorado plains, turned on the color for these newer pierces and aimed his camera at a tree-filled park. The sensibility shift makes sense considering that the new photos mark the artist's journey through a bone-marrow transplant. Van Pelt's carbon prints depict little pieces of the wilderness in the spaces between developments, poetically juxtaposing nature and the built environment. The show successfully reconciled these distinctly different takes on nature.
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center no longer has its own gallery, but it still holds some 500 old photos. Last spring, Edge Gallery brought a choice group of them out of storage for the handsome Collections/Selections I. It was a rare guest slot at this artist co-op, which usually features only the work of members. The pieces were chosen by a CPAC committee and included an eclectic group of images by noteworthy photographers such as Edward Miller, Ken Hayman, Bernard Mendoza and Imogen Cunningham.
New York photographer Collier Schorr gets pretty out there in Jens F., a large solo that is still on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver. It was originally part of Star Power, a series of exhibits on view when the building opened last fall. Using photos, montages, collages and even sketches, Schorr zeroes in on a very attractive teenage boy and poses him as though he were a female nude; it pays homage to Andrew Wyeth's model and could-be lover, Helga, of whom he made secret paintings. Given the risks she took, Schorr was wise to take these photos in Europe, where attitudes about sex are more open.
Avast, me hearties! If one day a year — September 19's Talk Like a Pirate Day — is not enough time for channeling your inner pirate, then perhaps you belong with the Rogues of Colorado. These rascally representatives of our landlocked state can be found at the Colorado Renaissance Festival in June and July; look for their flag waving proudly above the Pirates' Pub. The rest of the year they're organizing toy and food drives, participating in highway cleanups or organizing private parties, including citywide treasure hunts, masquerade balls and other charitable events. So track down your ruffled shirt, peg leg, eye patch and parrot, because with the Rogues, you can talk like a pirate all year long. Yarrr!
Chris Soucy ain't Jack Black. But as head man at a new local franchise of the alternative music school made famous by the movie, he does aim to instill youngsters with the collaborative rock-band ethic. Geared toward young musicians ages seven to eighteen, the school's program includes private lessons and group rehearsals focusing on the kind of music that students' parents probably grew up listening to; each session culminates with a live show at a local club. A week-long boot-camp version of the format will be offered this summer. You're never too young to have a professional outlook on what you do, so go, go, go, Johnny, go.

Best Place to Get All Touchy-Feely With a Needle and Thread

TACtile Textile Arts Center

Long before the current DIY movement was even DIYing around on its hands and knees, TACtile director Dianne Denholm was ahead of her time as the owner of the D'Lea's fabric store. But she had a dream, which is now slowly coming to fruition, of creating a kind of collective, in which fiber artists and members of established fiber-arts organizations could meet and work, teach and attend classes, display their wares and buy materials. Inspired by the Textile Center in Minneapolis, TACtile is well on its way to becoming a community work of art, and Denholm should hold her head — and hands — high.
It's no big secret that the Front Range is one of the nerdiest places around: We boast one of the highest concentrations of science and research labs in the country. And what do all of those research geeks do when they aren't watching the latest Heroes episode? They flock to the Wynkoop's Mercantile Room for Cafe Scientifique, the wildly popular free gatherings organized each month by University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center professor J. John Cohen. Each Cafe Sci features a local expert tackling a different, ripped-from-the-headlines topic: for instance, Gwen Huitt, the doctor who treated infamous runaway tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker, discussing drug-resistant TB, or Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey describing the latest developments in DNA analysis. While the subjects may be heavy, Cohen ensures that discussions are always lively and user-friendly (all the beers thrown back help, too). Get there early if you want a seat: These nerds are a force to be reckoned with.
The Urban Dictionary defines a Spreadhead as "one who is a Widespread Panic fan, on an extreme level. Often characterized by smoking copious amounts of pot, eating caps, and dropping the occasional hit, and traveling through 3 states to attend a WSP concert." In other words, the type of folks you'll find at Moon Time on Wednesdays. Although we can't attest to the pot or the caps, we know that this crowd has a strong affinity for a certain band from Athens, Georgia. At Widespread Wednesdays, Spreadheads gather and trade stories about the group while listening to live Panic shows (a new one each week). After that, there's live entertainment from local musicians like Lake Effect, along with the chance to win prizes.

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