Things to Do

The Best Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

People enjoy the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair.
People enjoy the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair. Alexandra Gaspar
click to enlarge People enjoy the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair. - ALEXANDRA GASPAR
People enjoy the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair.
Alexandra Gaspar

Is your wallet feeling a little light this week? No worries. There are plenty of fun things to do without spending any dough, including a screening of the Oscar-nominated film Harriet, the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair, or watch some live theater from the comfort of the light rail. Don't forget to check out other events on Phoenix New Times' event calendar.

click to enlarge Head here for the  Harriet  screening. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Head here for the Harriet screening.
Lynn Trimble


Cynthia Erivo was the only person of color nominated for an acting Oscar this year, for performing the lead role in Harriet. The film examines the life and times of abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery but escaped, then helped others find freedom through the Underground Railroad. You can see a free screening of the film at Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. It starts at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2, and runs for just over two hours. The film also stars Leslie Odom Jr. Both actors received Tony Awards in 2016, by the way. Erivo won for playing Celie in The Color Purple, and Odom for playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Ruben Espinosa is coming to ASU. - ASU
Ruben Espinosa is coming to ASU.

'Shakespeare on the Border'

For some, it’s easy to write Shakespeare off over concerns his work includes sexist and racist themes. But others are working to explore his poetry and plays in the context of contemporary life while elevating the value of ideas and voices outside of mainstream Western culture. Ruben Espinosa is one of many scholars exploring the intersection of Latinx culture and Shakespeare, especially related to the borderlands. He’s doing a free talk on the ASU campus in Tempe from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3. It’s happening inside Lattie Coor Hall, located at 976 South Forest Mall in Tempe. Expect Espinosa to cover topics such as identity, gender, economics, and ethics. His presentation is free, but you should RSVP online so organizers know how many people to expect. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Valley Bar opened in 2015. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Valley Bar opened in 2015.
Benjamin Leatherman

Get Lit

Poet Taric Watts-Williams will be sharing work exploring privilege and literature during the free Get Lit: Keeping It Classy gathering at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. It’s happening at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, and you should be at least 21 to attend. Watts-Williams will be addressing topics related to privilege on the lit scene, and imagining alternatives that elevate diverse voices in fresh ways.

The event is a chance to explore the prevalence of privileged protagonists, themes of wealth and attainment, the novel as a bourgeois exercise, and the current state of publishing relative to equity and inclusion. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Rising Youth Theatre is bringing its Light Rail Plays to Tempe. - CARLOS LARA
Rising Youth Theatre is bringing its Light Rail Plays to Tempe.
Carlos Lara

Light Rail Plays

Rising Youth Theatre has been exploring new theater platforms for several years now, including light rail stations and transit trains that carry diverse community members throughout the Valley. Now, it’s bringing a new series of works to the Tempe Transit Center, 200 East Fifth Street in Tempe.

The latest iteration of the Light Rail Plays launches on Friday, March 6, with a 7 p.m. performance created by local youth and professional artists. The lineup includes several five-minute, two-person plays that incorporate a wide range of art forms, including music, dance, masks, and circus arts. The Light Rail Plays continue through Sunday, March 8. Performances are free, but reservations are recommended. Lynn Trimble

Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair

Every month, the Melrose District hosts a large vintage market featuring assorted decor and home goods. But once a year, the neighborhood goes all out with a giant festival. The calendar for the 2020 edition of the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair is jam-packed, with a zone for all-day kid’s activities, a classic car and truck show, food trucks, the Melrose Patio beer garden, and 200-plus booths featuring locally sourced arts and crafts and other delights. If the markets are a sampler platter, then the fair is a seven-course gourmet meal. This free event is set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, at 4000 North Seventh Avenue. Chris Coplan

Pick up the mic at Phoenix Center for the Arts. - JUAN ALVARO/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
Pick up the mic at Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Juan Alvaro/Flickr Creative Commons

Infuse Open Mic

Maybe you’ve dreamed of sharing your talents during an open mic night, but worried you wouldn’t feel comfortable making it happen. You can ease into it over at Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street, where they’re holding a casual Infuse Open Mic event from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 8. It’s a relaxing alternative to the hustle and bustle of First Friday and a great way to meet people who share your creative vibe.

Show up at 5:30 p.m. if you want to throw your hat into the ring and perform that night. The evening typically features poets, musicians, dancers, comedians, vocalists, and more. The free event is being hosted by Racquel McKenzie, and Flipside has the DJ side covered. Lynn Trimble
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble