Lanford Wilson's influential play Balm in Gilead, set in the bustle of a Lower East Side coffee shop among, in the author's words, "the riffraff, the bums, the petty thieves, the scum, the lost, the desperate, the dispossessed, the cool," is presented by the Arizona State University theater department. Daniel Irvine directs the show, part of a yearlong retrospective of Wilson's work, which continues this week with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 15; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 16; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 21. Tickets are $12, $8 for students and seniors. The run continues through Sunday, April 25. Paul V. Galvin Playhouse at ASU's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. 480-965-6447.
Had enough one-person shows yet, after John Davidson in Bully and Jean Stapleton as Eleanor Roosevelt and Shirley Valentine at Kerr Cultural Center? If you can't wait until fall, when Leslie Nielsen is slated to play Clarence Darrow at the Orpheum, here's one more evening of "monodrama"--Valley actor Rusty Ferracane in The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me. David Drake's play refers not to an actual conferred smooch but to the figurative kiss of inspiration to gay activism that Drake received when he saw Kramer's play The Normal Heart. Matthew Mazuroski directs the production, presented by On the Spot Theater, 4700 North Central. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15; the same time Friday, April 16; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 18. The run continues through Sunday, May 2. Tickets, available by phone or at Movies on Central, are $15. 602-274-0994.
Last-minute tax filers can get a free copy of A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul between 3 and 4 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the Phoenix Main Post Office on Van Buren Street. Mark and Chrissy Donnelly, who co-authored one of the books in the popular series of inspirational stories, will be present to greet anyone in the mood to talk with them. There are those of us who prefer the Beavis and Butt-head self-help book Chicken Soup for the Butt. Call 1-800-851-9100, extension 272, for more information.
One of the most dazzling improvisational wits now in standup comedy, Paula Poundstone has a startling knack for spinning good-natured devastation out of cues she takes from the audience. The frequent guest of both Letterman and Leno, who was also the first woman ever to headline at the White House Correspondents Dinner (1992), is slated to perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 16, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets range from $18 to $30. 480-786-2680 (CCA), 480-784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Brian Richardson and April Corley, who proudly bear the title of National Class Pairs Roller Skaters, will perform artistic "quad" (four-on-the-corners) skating during regular rink hours from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 16; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at Surfside Skate, 1625 East Weber in Tempe. Admission is $4. 480-968-9600.
The monthly cinema series "MAC Movies 5" continues at 7 p.m. Friday, April 16, at Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center, with a screening of The Line King: Al Hirschfeld, a delightful documentary about the famed caricaturist from director Susan W. Dryfoos. Admission is a suggested donation of $2. The series concludes for the season on Friday, May 14, with Kundun, Martin Scorsese's film portrait of the youth of the Dalai Lama. Fred Linch hosts the postfilm discussions. 480-644-2242.
The potential for art in something as familiar as where we place our rear ends is the theme of "Great Design: 100 Masterpieces From the Vitra Design Museum." The exhibit--the first in this country to highlight the collection of the museum in Weil am Rhien, Germany--features chairs and other modernist furniture of the 19th and 20th centuries, from designers as distinguished and diverse as Eero Saarinen, Le Corbusler, Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Lloyd Wright, among many others. It opens on Saturday, April 17, and continues through Sunday, June 27, at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays); closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission: $6, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children ages 6 to 18, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all on Thursdays. 602-257-1880, 602-257-1222.
The incredibly prolific filmmaker Spike Lee is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Seventh Biennial African Heritage Dinner, a fund raiser for the Consortium of Black Organizations and Others for the Arts (COBA). The black-tie-or-African-dress festivities run from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Phoenix Airport Marriott, 1101 North 44th Street. Tickets are $75; tables of 12 can be had for $900. Call 602-254-5081 for more information.
Along with mucho volleyball, this year's Spike Out Cancer tournament will feature a DJ, raffles, a beer garden, vendor booths, food and drink, and other fun. "4 Coed Competitive" and "4 Coed Recreational" pool play is held on Saturday, April 17; "4 Man Open" and "4 Woman Open" pool play follows on Sunday, April 18. Registration starts at 8 a.m. both days; play starts at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 a player, and includes a tournament shirt, a player bag, a player towel and a drink ticket. For more information, call 602-212-6774.
Shameless company plug: 48 local bands selected by Gilbert Garcia, this publication's venerable music editor, perform and compete in the fourth annual New Times Music Showcase, from 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday, April 18, on Mill Avenue and elsewhere around Tempe. Admission is a $7 wristband available at the showcase venues, which include Balboa Cafe, Bash on Ash, Beeloe's, Fat Tuesday, The Green Room, Hayden Square, Macayo Depot Cantina, Mill Cue Club, The Owl's Nest, Trails, and Valley Art Theatre, and at all Zia Record Exchanges in the Valley; part of the proceeds benefit Phoenix Body Positive. For more information, check out the pull-out section in this issue.
Lovers of less raucous sounds should relish Arizona Arts Chorale's presentation of the "Requiem" by the great Marcel Durufle, along with other works, at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 18, at St. Maria Goretti Church, 6261 North Granite Reef Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10, $8 for children and seniors. Call 602-222-2226 for more information.
Tree specialist Tim Johnson, on the boards of the National Arborists and the American Society of Consulting Arborists, is the guest at this month's meeting of the Valley of the Sun Gardeners, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, at the Washington Adult Center Auditorium, 2240 West Citrus Way. The topic of the talk is "Standards of Tree Care," and it will concern the process of selecting an arborist. 623-937-5713.
Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 can be introduced to the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding when Shari Durst teaches an Origami Workshop from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at Dobson Ranch Branch Library, 2425 South Dobson in Mesa. Admission is free, but advance registration is required. 480-644-3441.
Maricopa County parks educator Jerry Waihner speaks and shows slides on the topic "Springtime in the Desert" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, in the North Central Regional Library, 17811 North 32nd Street. Admission is free, and no registration is required. 602-506-1634.