Memorial Day is over, and a whole summer full of fun stretches ahead. Get a jump on the hottest season of the year at some of the very cool events this week, which range from a celebration of Buffalo Bill's burial to a Bboy festival to the return of the People's Fair. Here are the 21 best, in chronological order.
Tuesday, May 30
Celebrate Denver’s often underappreciated and almost always underpaid filmmakers at Open Screen Night, a shorts showcase open to local DIY films in need of an audience. Although the celebration is technically a month early, the annual event will celebrate six years of fun and films at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. A partnership of Denver Open Media and Sexpot Comedy, Open Screen Night is a gift to Denver’s creative community and a bargain for audiences. Admission is just $5 at the door, and there’s no submission fee for filmmakers (the submission period ended on May 23, though, so make a note for next year). Go to bugtheatre.org for more.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts ends its 2016-’17 season with a step off the grid by presenting the National Theatre of London’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens’s Tony Award-winning play based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon. The story of Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old math savant with an Asberger’s-like syndrome, takes audiences on a mystery-solving tour from the youth’s uncomfortable point of view, using unique staging, effects and choreography as he solves problems in his own special way. The Curious Incident premieres on Tuesday, May 30, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and runs through June 18; for tickets, starting at $30, visit denvercenter.org.
The Landmark Theatre group’s A Film for All Seasons series not only reintroduces classic movies to viewers who may be catching them on the big screen for the very first time, but presents selections with a deep thematic resonance. The films in the current program, “Revolutionary Classics,” examine some of the thorniest issues in American politics. On Wednesday, May 31, the weekly series will present Norma Rae, a reminder of the importance of labor unions. The 1979 film, which famously earned leading actress Sally Field an Oscar, has retained its relevance since its initial release, particularly as unions are increasingly marginalized by corporations and politicians alike. Showtimes are at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Landmark Esquire, 590 Downing Street; admission is $8.50 at landmarktheatres.com.
Thursday, June 1
It’s camp season at the Garner Galleria Theatre, where the comedy DragOn! opens on Thursday, June 1, with a talented cast of queens led by local favorite Stuart Sanks, aka Shirley Delta Blow. Written by Denver improv expert Jessica Austgen and directed by Dallas choreographer Joe Ferrell, DragOn! celebrates the serendipitous convergence of PrideFest and Denver Comic Con this month with its take on all forms of dressing up — from traditional drag to comic-book cosplay — which one young man encounters in a fantasy rite of passage that trots out one hilarious role model after another. DragOn! performances continue Thursday to Saturday through June 25 (with select Sunday shows, too) at the Garner Galleria in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For tickets, starting at $25, visit denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
They’re papering the walls at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, where three exhibits focusing on work using paper-based mediums — Stan Meyer: Poetic Presence, Paper on Paper: The Art of Chine-Collé and a large group show, Paper.Works — open to the public with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 1. Stan Meyer’s elegant wall pieces woven from roofing paper will fill the Upper Gallery, while examples of chine-collé, a printmaking technique in which imagery printed on a sheer, lightweight paper is superimposed on a heavier background, take over the Theatre Gallery. And downstairs in the Main Gallery, Paper.Works displays a cross-section of paper pieces that have been cast, cut, folded, collaged or birthed from pulp by twenty artists; it includes monumental pieces by Ray Tomasso and Peter Yumi, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy’s cut-paper drawings aided by trails of snail slime, and Richard Kallweit’s geodesic forms shaped from cardboard. The Meyer show runs through August 6, the other two through August 20, at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard; learn more at arvadacenter.org, or call 720-898-7200.
The town of Breckenridge doesn’t take its designation as a Colorado Creative Industries-certified arts district lightly, thanks to the efforts of BreckCreate, a high-energy, nonprofit arts-programming machine that produces world-class, multidisciplinary happenings that keep Breck buzzing during the summer season. WAVE: Light + Water + Sound, which debuted last year, is a prime example. It’s a four-day adventure during which you might find yourself listening to music while wandering among Australian artist Amanda Parer’s giant inflatable rabbits, or playing with MICRO, an interactive installation of suspended globes from Purring Tiger, a New York performance group, or experiencing any number of multimedia installations around town, from exterior wall projections to pop-up performances.WAVE runs from 3 to 11 p.m. daily, June 1 to 4, in downtown Breckenridge, and it’s all free, except for food and lodging if you choose to stick around for the long weekend (check gobreck.com for deals). Get more fest information at breckcreate.org.
Friday, June 2
Brady Plays the Fiddle, Melissa Auell’s colorful children’s book, tells the story of a raccoon who wants to learn to play a musical instrument, studies up on genres ranging from rock to pop to swing, and ultimately falls in love with bluegrass and the fiddle at a summer music festival. Auell is throwing a shindig in Brady’s honor at Tomari’s Coffee Shop, 6328 South Turkey Creek Road in Morrison, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 2, as part of an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to print the book. For more information on the event, call 720-335-7844; find out more about Auell’s crowdsourcing efforts at indiegogo.com/projects/brady-plays-the-fiddle-a-children-s-picture-book.
If traditional art walks seem too stuffy but you still want your First Friday art fix, jump into your clown costume and get in the center ring on Friday, June 2, at the 40 West Arts District’s Circus Art Walk. Gather with your fellow jokers at 5 p.m. at the 40 West Gallery, 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood, to collect your clown nose and balloons; performers will wow the crowd with tricks, and there will be live music and free popcorn. The parade will take off at 6 p.m., winding through traditional gallery openings filled with art for sale and free beer and wine. For more information on this and other events included in Lakewood’s annual INSPIRE! Arts Week, go to 40westarts.org.
Lighthouse Writers Workshop is about to start a new chapter with the twelfth annual Lit Fest, a two-week literary celebration that includes classes, parties, book signings and appearances by authors ranging from Andre Dubus III to Elizabeth McCracken and Sarah Manguso. The festival opens with a party from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at Lighthouse, 1515 Race Street; Cuba Cuba is catering, and there will be live music, on-the-spot poetry and tarot card readings. The bash is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. For more information on both the party and Lit Fest, which runs through June 16, go to lighthousewriters.org.
Denver co-ops have been scrambling to find new homes after being priced out of the old ones by development and rising rents. But at least Edge Gallery is safely ensconced in new digs at Prism Studios, 999 Vallejo Street in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood. Help Edge artists celebrate at their inaugural reception for Change, a gallery-wide group exhibition inspired by transition, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2. Prism will host a semi-annual open-studio event to coincide with Edge’s debut, giving art lovers a chance to discover work by more than forty artist and maker tenants. Change runs through July 9, and the gallery is open Friday through Sunday; go to edgeart.org for information.
Scream Screen is back at the Sie FilmCenter for another month of terrifying fun. Denver scream queen Theresa Mercado, known for her blood-soaked treasury of cosplay characters and wicked imagination, will kick off Treasury of Terror: A Decade of Horror Anthologies, at 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 2, with 1983 classic Twilight Zone: The Movie, with segments directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller and Stephen Spielberg. The weekly series continues with Nightmares on June 9, Cat’s Eye on June 16, and a 35mm print of Tales From the Darkside: The Movie on June 23; a short film of Mercado’s choosing will precede each feature. All showings are at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. For information and tickets, $7 to $11 per screening, visit denverfilm.org.
For a jaunt through creative anachronism that’s less about commerce and more about character, the Colorado Medieval Festival might be just the ticket, especially since that ticket is a lot less expensive than one for the Renaissance Festival. This three-day blast from the past, which opens Friday, June 2, in Loveland, will bring together wandering faeries and sword players in chain mail, huge men hurling stones and hammers for prizes, an open Battle of the Bards contest, artisan vendors, and hearty food and drink, for an experience that feels more like a family picnic than a tourist trap. The fest runs from 3 to 8 p.m. June 2, with an evening of live music by Wendy Woo, the Stubby Shillelaghs and Shawn Wright and the Tribe; it continues from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. June 3 and 4 at the Savage Woods, 1750 Savage Road in Loveland. For more information and to purchase tickets, $8 (parking is $5 per car, and children five and under get in free), visit coloradocastle.com.
Keep reading for more events this week.
Saturday, June 3
On June 3, 1917, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was buried atop Lookout Mountain. He’d actually died on January 10, but the ground was too frozen to dig a grave at the time, and Cody’s body was kept on ice at Olinger’s Mortuary (today the home of Lola). But Denver hadn’t forgotten the legendary Westerner in the meantime; 20,000 people attended the burial. At noon on Saturday, June 3, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, 987 ½ Lookout Mountain Road, will commemorate the anniversary with a re-creation of that day, complete with a cannon salute and a musical tribute by Jim Salestrom and Susie Knight. The ceremony is free; then head into the museum ($5 admission) to hear music historian Rex Rideout discuss Western music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and also see the new permanent show A Visit to the Wild West as well as a second exhibit devoted to Cody’s burial. For more information, call 303-526-0744 or go to buffalobill.org.
Breakdancing master Ian Flaws has been teaching moves and supporting the hip-hop community at his Bboy Factory for the past five years, and that means it’s time for a party. Whether you take a chance on the floor or just spectate from the sidelines, the Bboy Factory Fifth Anniversary Jam, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at the Beat, 1221 Pecos Street, is going to be a mind-blower, complete with a national-level two vs. two breakin’ competition for a $1,000 prize and contests in individual categories, including one for the over-thirty set, and king-and-queen dance-downs for kids fifteen and under. DJs A-L and Prominent will be spinning, and Motown will wield the drumsticks. Jam judges and world b-boy icons Neguin and Born will also teach workshops at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4, back at the Factory; registration is $20 for one or $30 for both. Get all the facts at facebook.com/thebboyfactory or learn more at bboyfactory.com.
Nothing says summer is here more eloquently than the Denver Chalk Art Festival in Larimer Square; after fifteen years, it’s now a bona fide Denver tradition. There’s nothing quite like it: You can stroll along and watch art being made in real time, right on the street. The colorful flat murals created throughout the fest, which range from funny to charming to jaw-droppingly gorgeous, are made even more beautiful by their ephemeral nature. Here today, gone tomorrow: Enjoy street art, live entertainment and food and drink from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 4, on the 1400 block of Larimer Street. Admission is free; go to larimerarts.org for details.
Thirty-five years is a long time, especially in one of Denver’s rapidly changing neighborhoods. But despite the growth and development in West Highland, one thing hasn’t changed: the annual Highlands Street Fair, which first brought music, food, drinks and crowds to Highlands Square in 1982. Join the neighborhood festivities on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for live bands on three stages — Whitewater Ramble, Ragged Union and Selasee & the Fafa Family on the main stage, plus Papa Juke battling John Weeks Band and the Megan Burtt Band taking on Jen Korte & the Loss in a battle of the bands on side stages — as well as a bike parade, kid-friendly activities, a beer garden and plenty of eats and drinks from restaurants on the block. West 32nd Avenue will be shut down between Julian and Perry streets, so bring your comfortable shoes and peruse the vendors while saying howdy to your neighbors. The best thing of all? It’s free! See highlands-square.com for complete details.
Have you seen the best minds of your generation starving, hysterical, naked, and so forth and so on? Allen Ginsberg did. And he wrote about it in his poem “Howl,” a work of such force that it defined the Beat Generation just as much as On the Road or Naked Lunch. The poem also brought gay identity (albeit not a manicured version) into the forefront of the public imagination. To celebrate the late poet’s birthday, Anne Waldman will headline Howl: A Ginsberg Birthday Party, at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street in Boulder. Waldman will be joined at the bash by Boulder Burlesque, Jessica Pearl Down, Megan Heise and Band of Toughs. For tickets, $10, and information, go to foxtheatre.com.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. What was established in 1972 as the Capitol Hill People’s Fair is now the People’s Fair, a free-for-all festival that returns to Civic Center Park from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 4. The park will be full of family-friendly events, homemade arts and crafts, mural painting, nonstop music and other performances, as well as community booths, presentations and food and drink vendors (don’t forget those turkey legs). Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods has contracted with an event company for the first time, so there will be plenty of People’s Fair-watching by fans of the original. Join them! For more information, go to peoplesfair.com.
Sunday, June 4
The Front Range boasts an incredibly strong group of sci-fi writers, and Ed Bryant is the major reason why. An award-winning science-fiction and horror writer who’d lived in Denver since 1972, Bryant passed away in February after a long illness. Fans knew Bryant for his writing, but he was a beloved and legendary mentor, too. Hear Bryant stories and swap tales of your own at a celebration of the writer’s life at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 4, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. For more information, call 303-294-9281.
Who needs the Ringling Brothers Circus when you have MOTH Poetic Circus, a group of world-class international performers and all-stars from Denver’s bustling circus scene? At 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 4, at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, MOTH will present Cinema: Circus in Black & White, taking the audience on a journey through black-and-white film while colorful characters perform overhead and all around. The last time this troupe performed, it was a sellout, so grab your tickets, $32.50, now at contemporarycircuscenter.com.
Monday, June 5
As Denver’s population swells, new and old residents alike worry about the changing cityscape, where affordable housing, livability and basic aesthetics are subsumed by rapid development and historic buildings are razed, only to be replaced by overpriced boxes. Join local historian and author Phil Goodstein at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 5, at City Stacks Books and Coffee, 1743 Wazee Street, for a free discussion titled “Denver’s Density” that will address such provocative questions as “What part does Denver’s energy economy and its boom-and-bust cycles play?” and “How does Denver’s sports fixation affect its future?” Goodstein’s answers will leave listeners feeling informed, if not necessarily comforted. Learn more at citystacks.com.
For more events, see the Westword calendar.