The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

B-E-E-R. Courtesy of Valley Bar
Nothing to do this week? No problem. Hear a reading from the poet behind "Good Bones," spend an evening with Ira Glass, or kick back for a special edition of Phoenix New Times' Shooflies. For more things to do, visit New Times' calendar.

Spelling Bee-r
Ever heard of a Spelling Bee-r? Let us define it for you. “Spelling Bee-r:” an event where you can relive your elementary school spelling bee days by competing against friends and other bargoers. Oh, and there’s lots of beer.

Competitors should brush up on spelling skills and beer terminology, and spectators should bring some extra cash for drink specials. Hosted by Brooksie, the competition will start at 8 p.m. on Thursday, January 18, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue.

Email [email protected] if you’d like to compete. Admission for the 21-and-over event is free. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts
Apparently, embarrassing your family until they try to get you committed generates good comedy, not just dreadful memories that last a lifetime. Mary Chase’s Harvey won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for drama and was wildly successful on stage and screen, starring Jimmy Stewart as a man whose best friend is a tall, invisible rabbit. Transported by the script’s virtues and Stewart’s acting chops, thousands of people allegedly remembered having seen Harvey during the performance (which does not actually happen, on account of the invisibility).

The cozy-yet-thought-provoking play continues at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre through Saturday, February 24, at 8670 East Shea Boulevard, #103 in Scottsdale. Showtime is 7 p.m. for the performance on Thursday, January 18, and tickets are $27 at 480-314-0841 or the Don Bluth Front Row Theatre website. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge Jazz up your jokes. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Jazz up your jokes.
Lynn Trimble
Jazz & Jokes
Used to be that stand-up comedians got their start performing in jazz clubs and variety shows. Jazz & Jokes throws it back to those days. It’s a monthly event that brings together musicians and comedians to create funny, thoughtful, and improvisational new work.

Every third Thursday at The Nash, 110 East Roosevelt Street, a jazz trio performs alongside jokesters putting on routines. Each edition features improvisational moments, as the players and comedians collaborate on the spot. The 18-and-older show starts at 9 p.m. on January 18, and tickets are $10. For more information, call 602-795-0464 or go to the Nash website. Laura Latzko

click to enlarge Maggie Smith will visit ASU. - STUDIO127 PHOTOGRAPHY
Maggie Smith will visit ASU.
Studio127 Photography
Maggie Smith
In August 2016, Maggie Smith captured the shock and zeitgeist surrounding the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando and the assassination of British politican Jo Cox with the title poem of her collection Good Bones. It became a viral sensation worldwide, and has since been translated into numerous languages, from French to Tamil. It earned Public Radio International’s “Official Poem of 2016” and was even read by Meryl Streep at the 2017 Academy of American Poets Gala at Lincoln Center.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, January 19, Arizona State University’s Virginia G. Piper Center of Creative Writing welcomes Smith for an intimate poetry reading and signing at the Piper Writers House, 450 East Tyler Mall in Tempe.

Admission is free, but space is limited and RSVPs are recommended. Smith’s poetry collections will be available for purchase. For more information or to RSVP, visit the Virginia G. Piper Center of Creative Writing website or call 480-965-6018. Michael Senft

click to enlarge See Julio U. Medina perform during Breaking Ground 2018 in Tempe. - COURTESY OF CARLEY CONDER
See Julio U. Medina perform during Breaking Ground 2018 in Tempe.
Courtesy of Carley Conder
Breaking Ground Dance and Film Festival
Several years ago, Carley Conder launched the Breaking Ground Dance and Film Festival that’s become an annual staple of the Phoenix dance scene. Conder is artistic director for Conder/DANCE, a Tempe-based company that specializes in contemporary dance. Her festival returns to Tempe Center for the Arts, 7000 West Rio Salado Parkway, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 19. But, there’s a new twist.

After the mainstage performance ends Friday night, ticket holders can stick around for a free after-party featuring more dance performances, catered bites, and a cash bar. The after-party dance lineup features short pieces called Tiny Dances, performed on 4-by-4-foot stages.

During the first evening of a two-night festival, attendees will see eight dances and one dance film. Expect hip-hop, yarn, Bach, and psychology, among other things. If you love Friday’s show, go back Saturday, January 20, to see more dancers in motion, performing a different bill of works. Advance tickets each night are $25 for adults. Visit the Conder/DANCE website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Shhhhh. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Benjamin Leatherman
Silent Party
Silent parties are a thing. Sure, those two words don’t seem to make sense together, but for those who whine about parties being too loud to have a decent conversation, these events are on the money. This Silent Party, hosted by Urban Fêtes, might be your new jam.

Here’s how it works: When you get to the club, you receive a pair of wireless headphones that allow you to switch between three different DJs playing reggae, R&B, hip-hop, and Top 40 faves. You’re also in control of the volume, making it easy to jump between dancing and chatting.

The party that’s all in your head starts at 9 p.m. on Friday, January 19, at the Monarch Theatre, 122 East Washington Street. Tickets are $20. Visit the Facebook event page or call 602-456-1991. Amy Young

Ran is the final saga by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The filmmaker put his heart and soul into this ambitious and visually powerful award-winning 1985 film, which is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Generations clash for power when a 16th-century warlord gives up his throne to his three sons.

Enjoy this influential cinematic masterpiece on Friday, January 19, at the Virginia G. Piper Theatre at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street. After the screening, Arizona State University assistant professor and film historian Jason Davids Scott will lead a discussion about Ran’s continued impact on modern filmmaking.

Admission to the 7 p.m. screening is $7. For more information, visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin are Trying. - MARK GLUCKMAN
Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin are Trying.
Mark Gluckman
Francis Biddle was one of FDR’s attorneys general and later presided over the Nuremberg trials. He embraced positions during wartime that he repudiated later (better late than never). During his long, productive retirement, he had trouble retaining personal secretaries, due to a trait known as “cussedness.” The final assistant, a young Saskatchewanian named Joanna McClelland Glass, eventually wrote a play, Trying, about her years working with Biddle in the 1960s.

The two-person show, at Theatre Artists Studio through Sunday, February 4, isn’t just about yelling and filing. Explorations of aging and communication will suck you in, even if super-lawyers aren’t your thing.

On Friday, January 19, showtime is 7:30 p.m. at 4848 East Cactus Road. Admission is $15 to $25. Visit the Studio website or call 602-765-0120. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge The science behind the sound. - COURTESY OF MIM
The science behind the sound.
Courtesy of MIM
Discover Science: How Science Brings Music to Life
When you’re rocking out to your favorite tunes, you probably aren’t thinking about how science is involved. No worries, the folks at the Musical Instrument Museum thought about it for you.

The two-day event Discover Science: How Science Brings Music to Life will feature workshops, hands-on activities, lectures, and performances to examine how science and technology influence how music is created and heard. Make your own electronic music at a workshop hosted by AZ Beat Lab or watch the B1 Duo explore the sounds made by different metal objects. There’s also a photo booth with music- and science-themed props, to memorialize the day.

Learn about the science of sound from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. The event is included in museum admission of $10 to $20, and it’s free for kids 3 and younger. Call 480-478-6000 or visit the MIM website. Amy Young

click to enlarge Veg out. - AZ VEG FOOD FEST
Veg out.
AZ Veg Food Fest
Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival
Living a plant-based lifestyle is about more than just what you eat. The U.S. Veg Corp’s Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival on Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21, will present different facets of veganism through chef demos of various cuisines, guest speaker discussions, storytellers, arts and crafts, and vendors with innovative vegan food and beverages, beauty products, and clothing and accessories.

During the festival, attendees can participate in yoga and meditation sessions or take in performances by acoustic, pop, hip-hop, and country musicians. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $75 for VIP, and free for children 10 and younger. For more information, see the Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival website. Laura Latzko

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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Rob is a Phoenix native, husband, dad, and an active member in the local music scene. He's written original songs for feature films.
Contact: Rob Kroehler
Laura Latzko
Julie has written for the Night & Day events calendar section since 2005. As a student at Arizona State, she received the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Creative Writing Award and the Theatre Medallion of Merit.
Contact: Julie Peterson
Michael runs the Sci-Fridays Book Club at the Poisoned Pen, and volunteers at local pop-culture conventions. He can be found at the occasional prog-rock concert.
Contact: Michael Senft
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young