Love or hate her, Wanda Sykes doesn't give a, well, you know. Her philosophy of "I'ma Be Me" has been brought on by a life of adversity and adjustment. The comic has tackled everything from race to gender, divorce to cancer, and homosexuality to parenthood, all while bringing it with her to the stage, the screen, or the pen and paper. No topic is too taboo, and no political screwup goes unnoticed when Sykes is in the room, making her the life of the party and the little brassy voice most of us have but don't use.
Sykes is scheduled to perform Friday, October 17, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Club doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30. Tickets are $71 for seating in rows one through eight, $46 for rows nine through 25, and $96 for pit table seats. Visit celebritytheatre.ticketforce.com or call the box office at 602-267-1600. Katie Johnson
David Mamet's written dozens of plays, making him a leading light of American theater in the '80s (he's slowed down a bit since). Those who remember him predominantly for his mastery of profanity, especially in Glengarry Glen Ross, are not off track -- Mamet's natural-sounding dialogue, including liberal cussing, is definitely one of his strengths as a writer.
Catch Mamet's usual men behaving badly in Theatre Artists Studio's production of Speed-the-Plow, which pits a naive temp secretary against two jaded Hollywood insiders. It originally featured Madonna as Karen, then Alicia Silverstone in a 2006 L.A. revival, and currently Lindsay Lohan in London. (We know -- but she's getting good reviews.) Skip the stunt casting (and the airfare) at the Studio's opening night, Friday, October 17, at 7:30 p.m., at 4848 East Cactus Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10 to $20 at www.thestudiophx.org or 602-765-0120 for performances through Sunday, November 2. Julie Peterson
You know how there are those pieces of art where, in order to wrap your mind around them, you have to close one eye and tilt your head to the side a bit? Well, the pieces in Bill Dambrova's "The Body Remembers What We Forgot" at MonOrchid are kind of like that, but moving your head or closing one eye just makes them look more awesome. Hell, you could keep both eyes open, and we still bet you could stare at those colorful shapes, patterns, and cartoons for hours.
This painter and collage artist's solo show is on now through November 3. Get the chance to meet Dambrova, hear him speak about his art, listen to some live music, and enjoy some drinks during an artist reception on October 17 from 6 to 10 p.m. at MonOrchid, 214 East Roosevelt. For more information, call 602-253-0339 or visit www.monorchid.com. Evie Carpenter
Medea was a Greek mythological figure who avenged her husband's betrayal by slaying their children. The story of La Llorona is that of a weeping woman who drowns her children in order to be with the man she loves, but later must wander, weeping, for all eternity. Coatlicue is the Aztec goddess who birthed the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. In one legend, her children tear her to shreds.
Penned by Cherrie Moraga, The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea magically weaves together these mythical figures with aspects of modern Native American, chicana, and lesbian cultural identities. Set in post-revolutionary Phoenix, this fast moving production reveals thematic commonalities in diverse historical cultures that are impactful today.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 18, at Lyceum Theatre, 901 South Forest Mall in Tempe. Performances continue through Sunday, October 26. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, ASU faculty, and $8 for students. Visit www.herbergerinstitute.asu.edu/events or call 480-965-6447. Glenn BurnSilver
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For those of us who visualize words when we hear them, have argued at least once about whether Helvetica is a timeless classic or so past its prime, and get nightmares about the abuse of kerning, Christmas does not come in December. It comes in late October and goes by the name of Phoenix Design Week. And the star at the top of the PDW tree is definitely the Method + Madness Conference.
The two-day conference aims to help both novice and master designers alike advance their skills through lectures and break-out sessions that will explore the beauty and practicality of design. Tickets for the conference range from $99 to $329, but break-out session passes can be purchased separately for $49 to $75. Get educated and inspired at the Method & Madness Conference, October 18 through 19, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street. For more information, visit www.phxdw.com/2014/conference. Evie Carpenter