In Paula Vogel's drama How I Learned to Drive, a teenage girl known as Li'l Bit is taught to drive by her Uncle Peck in '60s-era Maryland. Arizona Theatre Company mounts this Pulitzer Prize-winning exploration of sexual abuse, directed by David Ira Goldstein. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 25; 8 p.m. Friday, March 26; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 27; 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 28; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 31. Tickets range from $23 to $33; the 8 p.m. Sunday, March 28, performance is a "pay what you can" show, and is followed by a discussion hosted by Karen Neilsen of the Arizona Rape Prevention, Education, Data and Evaluation project. The run continues through Sunday, April 11. Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. 252-8497 (Herberger), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
One of the few bona fide great plays of this century, Samuel Beckett's existential comedy Waiting for Godot concerns two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting by a roadside for the arrival of someone (something?) they call Godot, who appears in no hurry to arrive. It inaugurated the Postwar Theatre of the Absurd, but no play that followed it--and certainly none of Beckett's subsequent work--has dramatized an absurdist vision so simply and accessibly, and with such a sweet underlying sense of cosmic playfulness. A hard-core existentialist might regard this as a flaw, but audiences are less likely to. ASU West's Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance presents the show, the second in a three-play Samuel Beckett retrospective. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, March 26; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 27; and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 28, at Second Stage West, located in the University Center Building on the Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird. Tickets, available at the door, are $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for students. 543-6064, 543-2787.
The well-loved standup comic and actor Paul Rodriguez takes the stage on Friday, March 26, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Destiny Lauren Smith opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $31 and $36. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
For the seventh year in a row, the Hollywood Film Institute's two-day crash course in low-budget independent filmmaking comes to the Valley this weekend. This writer audited the course a couple of years back, and while it hasn't yet transformed me into the next Quentin or Spike--instructor Dov S-S Simens counts both of these wunderkinds among his former students--this may have something to do with the fact that I've made no effort whatsoever to write or produce a film. If you have any intention of seriously doing so, then Simens, a former line producer for low-budget horror films and syndicated TV shows, is probably the best man to listen to. He offers no pep talks, just practical, illusion-clearing information. Nonetheless, he's a hilarious, entertaining lecturer, and his combination of pragmatism and bombast makes a hygienic lance for festering film-theory boils. The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 27; and the same hours Sunday, March 28, at the Star Theater, 7117 East McDowell in Scottsdale. The fee is $289. 970-8711, 840-9510.
Why should those uppity Capistrano swallows get all the press? Superior's Boyce Thompson Arboretum hosts "Welcome Back Buzzards Day," a celebration of those great, much-maligned sanitation workers of the zoological world, on Saturday, March 27. The day kicks off with a "vulture watch" and bird walk at 7 a.m., followed by a vulture cake and other refreshment (carrion?) at 10 a.m., along with other fun. The desert-plant preserve and state park showcases a vast variety of native and nonnative cactuses, succulents and other arid-land plants. Regular hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Christmas. Admission: $5, $2 for kids 5 to 12, free for those younger. Located on U.S. Highway 60 near Superior. 1-520-689-2811.
Also on the airborne beat, the fourth annual Kite Fest features showing off by Scott Skinner (a member of the World Kite Museum's Hall of Fame), Ron and Sandra Gibian, Bob Childs, Ron Reich, the Flight Squadron and other pro kiters, as well as a corporate "rokkaku" fighter-kite challenge, whatever that is, kids' activities, food and drink, and other entertainment, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 27; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 28, at Paradise Valley Park, 39th Street and Union Hills Drive. Admission is free for spectators; activity proceeds benefit Arizona Spina Bifida Association. 274-3323.
As a fund raiser for the organization, the Valley of the Sun Gardeners hosts its fourth annual Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 27. Nine central Phoenix homes are included on the jaunt. Tickets, available at Baker's Nursery, 3414 North 40th Street, are $5. 955-4500, 937-5713.
Billed as "a musical dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli musicians," a concert by The Mosaic Chamber Ensemble is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday, March 28, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Featured performers include violinist Moshe Bukshpan, cellist Ohad Bar-David of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and 'Ud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen. Tickets are $15 and $18. 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Art instructor Bob Lemler of the Scottsdale Artist School teaches the workshop "Drawing and Painting With Oils or Pastels." The event, sponsored by the Scottsdale Artists League, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 28, in Room 124 of the Scottsdale Community College Art Building, Chaparral Road and Loop 101 in Scottsdale. Admission is $25, $20 for league members and $15 for students. For more information or to register, call 812-1076.
Harry Wood Gallery hosts "End of the Weight," an "urban-inspired solo exhibition" by Philadelphia native and MFA candidate Paul Wandless. It opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 29, and continues through Sunday, April 4. Located in the School of Art Building on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. 965-3468.
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The Down Under answer to Stomp, six-man Australian dance troupe Tap Dogs kicks off a run of its high-testosterone tap-rock show at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 30; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets range from $30 to $40; the run continues through Sunday, April 4. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
The sixth annual Hat Club Cactus Challenge, a celebrity softball game, raises funds for Arizona Special Olympics. A home-run derby starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, at HoHoKam Park, 1235 North Center in Mesa; the game, coached by Danny Ainge and Jake Plummer and played by the likes of Jason Kidd, Rex Chapman, Tom Gugliotta, Luc Longley, Steve Young, Ed McCaffrey, Mark Chmura, Randy McDaniel, Mark Grace, Wally Joyner, Jeff Cirillo and--maybe--Garth Brooks, follows at 7. Tickets are $5, $10 and $15, available at the gate and at Dillard's. 829-0545 (information), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
1999's second "blue moon"--the first was on January 31--is celebrated by the Arizona Science Center on Wednesday, March 31. The facility will remain open until 9 p.m., and a local astronomy club will provide telescopes to check out La Bella Luna. A blue moon, by the way, is a rare second full moon within the same month; hence the expression, "once in a blue moon." Admission ranges from $3 to $11, $2 to $9 for children and seniors. 600 East Washington. 716-2000.