Top Five Phoenix Arts and Culture Stories of the Week

If Bob Ross were alive today, he'd be painting happy little trees all over the place in ecstatic fervor for all the arts and culture happenings in Phoenix. To help you see the forest for the trees, here's a recap of the top arts and culture stories of the week.

Ignite Phoenix No. 15 Is Accepting Submissions Through Next Friday

Admit it: There's some sort of subject that you're especially obsessed with or have a tendency to nerd out over. And if that's the case, you ain't alone. As Ignite Phoenix founder Jeff Moriarty puts it, most folks are passionate about something, even if they're afraid to discuss it or feel it's too trivial. It isn't. Fact is, he believes it should be shared with the world.

"Everyone has a passion. I think it's one of the things that keep us going. We work jobs we may not love, deal with banks and bills and laws and stress, but there's always something that makes it all worthwhile, that let's us escape," Moriarty says. "And when you share what you really love, what really geeks you out, that connects you with [other] people."

Such is the M.O. behind Ignite Phoenix, the ongoing presentation event where local residents discuss the hobbies and interests they're crazy about in front of a crowd. The next edition takes place in October, and Moriarty and other organizers are still accepting submissions, but only until next Friday.

- Benjamin Leatherman

Scandalesque Announces Plans to Open The Empress in Downtown Phoenix

Scandalesque's Christy Zandlo and Julianna Curtis probably won't have much in the way of free time over the next several weeks. During that time, the co-founders of the local burlesque troupe have routines to rehearse, dance workshops to oversee, and a few upcoming performances to plan. And then there's the biggest task on their plate: Opening Scandalesque's new performance venue within the next month or two.

- Benjamin Leatherman

Artist and Curator Withdraw from Herberger Exhibitions

Late last week Herberger Theater Center's art gallery canceled the opening of the exhibition "Prime Example," curated by New Times contributor Robrt Pela. Since then, the Phoenix arts community has tried to make sense of how exactly a show that had been on the books for two years could be axed so abruptly. Allegations of censorship have circulated, Herberger has offered changing explanations, and local artists subsequently organized a protest.

After Jackalope Ranch caught up with Laurene Austin, the marketing and development director for Herberger and manager of the art gallery space, earlier this week about the controversy, Pela released to us email correspondence between him and Austin. Then Austin sent us her email correspondence between Austin and the artists. Now that we've looked through it all, it's clear that communication was lacking between all parties involved.

See the full story here.

- Becky Bartkowski

Nearly Naked Theatre's A Devil Inside is a Weird, Cathartic Dark Comedy

Nearly Naked Theatre has a tendency to comb through the oeuvres of solid contemporary playwrights and bring us productions of their earliest works, some of which hold up better than others. If you appreciate writer David Lindsay-Abaire mostly from his comparatively serious, Pulitzer-winning Rabbit Hole, presented in Phoenix by Actors Theatre in 2009 and subsequently made into a Nicole Kidman film, NNT's current A Devil Inside will seem quite odd (not necessarily a bad thing). Even lined up against Lindsay-Abaire's other more reckless, nearly absurd scripts -- such as Fuddy Meers or Wonder of the World -- 1997's Devil is obviously the product of a younger, less deft author.

Read the full stage review here.

- Julie Peterson

7 Actresses We'd Rather See Play Anastasia in 50 Shades of Grey Movie

If you've been anxiously awaiting to hear who will play Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the movie adaptation of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, relief came this past week.

As with every highly anticipated casting search, there's bound to be some disappointed fans. For the record, we're in that group. We just can't get behind Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele -- or Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey for that matter.

Here's a list of actresses we'd rather see play Ms. Steele.

- Darryle Royal

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