Hand to God
When two kickass Valley theater companies get together for a co-production, everybody wins. When the play features a foul-mouthed puppet, we’re not terribly surprised anymore, but it does make everything even better.
In Robert Askins’ Hand to God, mounted by Stray Cat Theatre and Phoenix Theatre, Tyrone is a felt American who began life in a Christian puppet ministry in small-town Texas. After he’s teamed with a troubled young man named Jason (whose mom embarrassingly leads the group), Tyrone’s personality evolves. Into what Jason needs, or what he is? All we know is that in rehearsals, people have been so violently amused they ceased to breathe (eventually starting again).
The 2015 Broadway production received five Tony nominations. Enjoy the opening night performance on Friday, February 2, at 8 p.m. The show runs through Sunday, February 25, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. Tickets start at $35 at 602-254-2151 or the Phoenix Theatre website. Julie Peterson
Some of the Valley’s best emerging artists are working on master of fine arts degrees at Arizona State University. So, if you want to explore works by up-and-comers on the local arts scene, it’s worth seeing graduate art student exhibitions every chance you get.
Case in point: A pop-up exhibition by ASU students who call themselves The Art Group (or “TAG”). They’re showing about 30 works during a free pop-up exhibition inside the auditorium for the A.E. England building, 424 North Central Avenue. It’s happening from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 2, as part of ASU’s five-day, multi-campus Open Door 2018 event.
More than a dozen grad students will have work on view, and the roster will include Emily Ritter, Ryan Eckert, Hao Jiang, Monica Wapaha, Dani Godreau, and Veronica Aponte. They work in diverse media, including painting, photography, ceramics, and sculpture. And they tackle topics from recycling to colonialism. Visit the Art Group Facebook page. Lynn Trimble
Even while just eating a sandwich, dancers can make us discern and appreciate the strength and beauty of the human body. However, performers also remind us that beautiful doesn’t always go hand in hand with good. Halo Movement Collective’s Savage Beauty program of dance, reimagined since its 2015 premiere, weaves a myth of splendor so extreme it can destroy the beholder.
Employing film, photography, and fashion in Halo’s trademark synthesis, the dancers lure the audience through the venue at Unexpected Art Gallery for staggered and scrambled gallery-style performances, including one that features a bungee harness, culminating in a catwalk-staged movement piece. Showtime on Friday, February 2, is 7:30 p.m. at 734 West Polk Street. Additional performances take place Saturday, February 3. Admission is $20. Visit the Halo Movement Collective website. Julie Peterson
Versatile funnyman Pedro Herrera III likes nicknames. He’s got a slew of them. Versace Mariachi, Tamale Kingpin, and Ghetto Vaquero are a few. On Friday, February 2, he appears as Chingo Bling, the Mexican cowboy and rapper. It’s the character he launched his career with, in Texas in the early 2000s. Armed with a bunch of self-parodying tunes examining Mexican American border culture and related stereotypes, he entered the music biz. Stand-up became another way he could get satirical.
Find out why his YouTube channel has more than 25 million views when he performs at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive. Admission to the 21-and-over show is $25, and VIP tickets are $45 and include a meet-and greet. A two-drink minimum is required. Call 480-921- 9877 or visit the Tempe Improv website. Amy Young
DJ Kid Koala, author of the 2003 graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall, wanted to bring to the stage his story of a lovelorn robot who becomes romantically infatuated with an office worker. He enlisted director K.K. Barrett to create a spectacle of sight and sound. Cameras will capture the live puppet show of the story on a miniature set, which will be projected on a screen behind Koala as the Afiara Quartet plays the score.
Experience a new spin on this yarn at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 2, at Musical Instrument Museum Music Theatre, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Tickets are $48.50 to $68.50. There will be a meet-and-greet with Koala before this performance. For more information, visit the MIM website. Jason Keil
The way things have been going, at first, Women in Horror Month sounded like maybe it wouldn’t be such a cool thing. But it is! For nine years, February’s been a time to celebrate the contributions of women to the horror genre. (The initiative’s newsletter is called Ax Wound, and we’re in love.) FilmBar’s 2018 WiHM salute is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a Persian-language American vampire romance from 2014. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and starring Sheila Vand, the film moseys through decrepit, noir-ish Taft, California (depicting fictional Bad City, Iran), reveling in its own hip soundtrack and velvety black-and-whiteness. “It’s like Sergio Leone and David Lynch had an Iranian rock ’n’ roll baby, and Nosferatu came and babysat for them,” Amirpour says in the press kit.
Raise the stakes at 10 p.m. Saturday, February 3, at 815 North Second Street. Admission is $12. Visit the Film Bar website. Julie Peterson
The uterus has inspired some pretty impressive artwork through the years, by artists including Judy Chicago and Georgia O’Keeffe. But they’re not alone. Phoenix-based artists used diverse imagery, including female anatomy, to explore reproductive rights during last year’s “Nasty Women: Phoenix Unite” exhibition at Grand ArtHaus, 1501 Grand Avenue. And now, they’re doing it again.
More than 100 artists, including Megan Koth and Patricia Sannit, have submitted work for the latest “Nasty Women” art show, which is designed to promote civil rights for women, immigrants, the LGBT community, and others who’ve been marginalized by mainstream politics.
See what they’ve come up with from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 3. Arrive by 7 p.m. to hear readings curated by Deborah Sussman. Featured writers include Phoenix poet laureate Rosemary Dombrowski and New Times contributor Sativa Peterson. The free event also includes T-shirt screen printing. Proceeds from all art sales benefit Planned Parenthood Arizona. Visit the Phoenix Nasty Women website. Lynn Trimble