Carpetbag Brigade finds fire fascinating, and not in a Beavis-and-Butt-head, preteen-pyro kind of way. The members of the "physical theater company" will emulate the flames of the 2002 fires that ravaged northern Arizona in an acrobatic, stilt-walking production called Mudfire, showing Wednesday, June 22, at the Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue. The troupe conceived the piece in its native Prescott before relocating to San Francisco in 2003. Carpetbag Brigade founder and co-director Jay Ruby says the troupe was already mixing red clay with red body paint for a production when the fires broke out, and "it became a direct connection between what we were doing and what we saw in nature around us." Ruby describes Mudfire -- which will tour the West Coast after its stop in Phoenix -- as "a strong visual, sculptural performance that uses character and myth," and the stilt-walkers as "nine-foot-tall red phantasmagorical creatures" that "rise with grace, fall with elegance and suspend one another in the air with daredevil lifts and stunts." The cast consist of six stilt-walkers and one "ground character" -- that would be Ruby -- as "the beast." The choreography reflects the destruction and regeneration of nature after forest fires, and Ruby says the stilt tricks took about three years of training and development.
The production is primarily visual and there's no dialogue, but New York City's DJ Rhizome and Tucson musician Will Duncan will provide the live instrumental soundtrack. Rhizome plans to keep spinning after the production. Mudfire lights up at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $5 to $15 on a "sliding scale." Call 602-262-2020 or visit www.carpetbagbrigade.com. -- Niki D'Andrea
Emancipation Marathon breaks the silence
It took black slaves a few centuries to get their God-given freedom here in the U.S. of A. On Saturday, June 18, it'll take local folks on Roosevelt Row a whopping nine hours to commemorate the plight, when Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt, hosts the "Emancipation Marathon" from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The participants in the marathon are "ordinary people that agree to read from historic and contemporary literature," and will lend their voices to thoughts and attitudes on "Slavery, the law," "Slavery, the definition," "Slavery, the human condition," and "Slavery, the legacy." The marathon is free, but the music that follows at 8 p.m. costs $7. Call 602-462-4415 or see www.modified.org. -- Joe Watson
Heard Film Fest goes global
"I can't make a film about kids from Anaheim," says Larry Blackhorse Lowe, "but I can make something that's not romanticized or clichéd." Lowe's 5th World wraps up the Heard Museum Film Festival, running Thursday, June 16, through Sunday, June 19, at the museum, 2301 North Central. 5th World returns to Navajoland with two students who are facing clanship issues and "trying to find a place to fuck," Lowe says. The festival's 50 films spring from indigenous cultures worldwide. The Heard's Wendy Weston says, "We have a lot of young people who want to tell our stories." Tickets and passes are $7 to $100. See www.heard.org/filmfestschedule.htm or call 602-252-8848. -- Julie Peterson
Sweet and spicy morsels at Changing Hands
Steve Almond is a chocolatier, a writer of sometimes disturbingly "sexy and fast-paced" short stories, and was once employed by Miami New Times. The first two titles we'll tell you about; the last, however, might explain a lot without further mention. On Thursday, June 16, Almond makes an appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe, where he'll peddle his own dark chocolate -- concocted with cinnamon, cocoa powder and "a hint of crunch" -- and his latest collection of shorts, The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories. The chocolate thing stemmed from his previous book, Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America. And the new book, well, it's a product of Almond's perspective on love and loss, and "how average people living in big cities and university towns tackle heartbreak with humor." And it includes this gem: "The Idea of Michael Jackson's Dick." 'Nuff said? Doubt it, but Almond will explain, sign, read and peddle beginning at 7 p.m. Call 480-730-0205. -- Joe Watson
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San Quentin Breakout
Series brings award-winning doc
No need to become a pill-popping Demerol fiend to dull the pain of the untimely demise of the Suns' Cinderella season; use the free time to enjoy a great flick about the game of life. Champion is the powerful story of Danny Trejo's metamorphosis from San Quentin bad guy to movie tough-guy actor that won "Best Documentary" at this spring's Phoenix Film Festival. The Copper Square Film Series is offering a free viewing; just bring a chair to the air-conditioned Levine Machine Building at 605 East Grant on Friday, June 17. Live music with This Year's Model starts the festivities at 7 pm. Call 602-254-8696. -- Douglas Towne
"Out of Context" closes
Call us shallow, but we prefer to be led on artistic journeys, rather than searching aimlessly for interpretation. Thank goodness for Kris Sanford, whose photography exhibition "Out of Context" employs the accompanying poetry of Matthew Heil and Charles Jensen at a closing reception on Friday, June 17, at the Kitchenette Gallery, Sixth Street and Roosevelt. Sanford's own family snapshots are combined with "found photos" from the 1920s to the '50s that illustrate "specifically gay or lesbian relationships," Sanford says. "I'm creating characters, creating stories using these photos as the basis for those stories," she adds. Each photo was digitally reprinted before being letterpressed with Heil's and Jensen's poetry. Both poets will read their works at the free reception, which begins at 6 p.m. See www.thekitchenette.com. -- Joe Watson