October is the time of the nerd, which probably has a lot to do with spooky activities and it finally, almost being graphic hoodie season. And in Phoenix, October means musicals about power-tripping inventors, a famous magician duo, and of course, the annual Halloween tradition that is PoeFest.
In addition to preparing your Tom Bombadil costume this month, get ready to catch an improv show from a Silicon Valley star, sit through an animated film festival, and celebrate International Archaeology Day with these 11 geeky activities happening in the Valley throughout October.
“Far Out: Interstellar Art”
For the whole month of October, you can visit the i.d.e.a. Museum in downtown Mesa for their signature fall exhibition – “Far Out: Interstellar Art.” This is a collection of paintings, photographs, quilts, sculpture, video, digital collages, and installations that depict everything from space travel and exploration to our current solar system, energy sources, weather, and gravity. Though leaning toward a younger crowd, the exhibition also answers questions like what the heck is NASA’s mission and whatever happened to Pluto. Admission is $9 a person, and they are closed Mondays.
Penn & Teller
Where to begin on the legacy of Penn & Teller? This half-pony-tailed, half-silent duo is known for elaborate magic tricks, Vegas stints to world tours, and overall silliness. And even if you’re not into magic, they’re certainly entertaining enough. Part of the Performing Live Series, Penn & Teller perform at the Mesa Arts Center at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 5, in the Ikeda Theater. Tickets are $38 to $80.
Powerhouse: The Tesla Musical
If you’re familiar with inventor Nikola Tesla's most controversial project, this is the musical for you. Powerhouse: The Tesla Musical – directed by Shelby Maticic with music by CJ O’Hara and book and lyrics by Brian Maticic and John Perovich – is a sing-song journey through the intense life of the famed engineer, inventor, and physicist. Held at the Brelby Theatre Company, performances start at 7:30 p.m. on October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27, and 2 p.m. on October 7, 14, and 21. Tickets are $25.
20th Anniversary Animation Show of Shows
Everything is better when it’s animated, including some of life’s more grueling struggles and heart-warming moments. You’ll probably see both and everything in between at the 20th anniversary Animation Show of Shows. Presented in partnership with No Festival Required, the animation film festival screens 16 international animated short films as part of the Art House Cinema Series. Held in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, the films start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 11. Tickets are $12.
“Re-Telling Fairy Tales for Fun and Profit: An Author's Perspective with Ursula Vernon”
Libraries are fun, but they can be even more fun when they host free lectures about story telling. Presented by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing as part of the Distinguished Visiting Writer Series 2018, the “Re-Telling Fairy Tales for Fun and Profit: An Author's Perspective with Ursula Vernon” is more of a fun night with fantasy with illustrator and graphic novelist. The talk starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 12, in the Pulliam Auditorium at Burton Barr Central Library.
Beekeeping for Beginners
Your October is begging for a workshop, and the Desert Botanical Garden can provide. Part of the Fall 2018 session, the Beekeeping for Beginners class covers constructing hives, harvesting honey, and where to actually buy honeybees with beekeeper Dan Punch. The class is $38, or $30 for garden members. The class runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 13.
Nat Geo Live: Ami Vitale: Rhinos, Rickshaws, And Revolutions
Photojournalist Ami Vitale has had a wild ride, and she’s documented much of it. She’s contracted malaria, worked through a civil war, and spent time with scientists dressed as panda bears (and so did she), and she’ll tell you all about it during Nat Geo Live: Ami Vitale: Rhinos, Rickshaws, and Revolutions. Presented by Mesa Arts Center in partnership with National Geographic, the talk will be held in Ikeda Theater at the Mesa Arts Center starting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17. Tickets are $27 to $41.
International Archaeology Day 2018
Fittingly enough, the Valley’s only preserved archaeological site is hosting an International Archaeology Day full of archaeology activities and crafts. Pueblo Grande Museum offers a preservation demonstration by City Archaeologist Laurene Montero, a free lecture by Dr. Glen Rice titled “Altruism in Food Sharing Among the 19th Century O'odham,” an artifact show and tell, and the Yellowman Frybread Food Truck. IAD at PGM is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 20. They’re also offering two-for-one museum admission tickets for the day.
Middleditch & Schwartz
All Things Comedy Festival Presents: Middleditch & Schwartz, a.k.a. your favorite successful nerd from Silicon Valley, and your favorite pill-addled loser from Parks and Recreation. It’ll be a night of ridiculousness as both perform two-person longform improv. Middleditch & Schwartz take the stage at Orpheum Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 26. Tickets are $29 to $75.
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Silent Sunday: Phantom of the Opera
What better place to view the Lon Chaney-starring, 1925 film Phantom of the Opera than the historic Orpheum Theatre? Brought to us by Awesome Arizona Theater ORGANS/Valley of The Sun Chapter ATOS, Silent Sundays presents this classic silent and creepy film while accompanied by a live organist, Brett Valliant, on the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. The movie starts at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 28. Tickets are $20.
As is tradition during Halloween, PoeFest 2018 – a month of madness and terror now in its 10th year – rages through the Valley at spots like the Ghost Lounge at Hotel San Carlos, the Don Bluth Front Row Theatre, and the 1895 Rosson House Museum. Come Halloween night, performances of “The Raven” are performed every 20 minutes from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, inside the historic Rosson House. It’s spooky and literary as hell. Tickets are $14.