THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR JUN 13 - 19 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Entertainment Picks


Jennifer Ackerman: What an Owl Knows, Juneteenth Events, SAW: The Musical – The Unauthorized Parody of "Saw"


  • Sofia Runarsdotter

Jennifer Ackerman: What an Owl Knows
For more than 25 years, Jennifer Ackerman has created lively, accessible books about scientific subjects including heredity and the common cold. But she seems to have found her sweet spot in addressing the world of birds, beginning with her 2016 best-seller The Genius of Birds, and continuing with Birds by the Shore and The Bird Way.

In her 2023 book What an Owl Knows, Ackerman turns her focus to owls, often mythologized as wise and mysterious. She addresses the complexity of the ways that owls communicate with one another, their mating and chick-rearing, and the extent to which their behavior is based on instinct versus learned information. Along the way, she profiles owl biologists, conservationists and amateur owl enthusiasts, including a Dutch musician who has trained her ear to understanding the "language" of owl vocalizations. It's a fascinating study that attempts to make these enigmatic creatures more knowable—and help encourage others to help support the health of owl populations.

Jennifer Ackerman brings her presentation on What an Owl Knows sponsored by The King's English Bookshop to the Salt Lake City Main Library's Tessman Auditorium (210 E. 400 South) on Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m. As part of the event, partner organization Hawkwatch International will bring three of their owls. The event is free to the public, but registration is required; you may also purchase a copy of the book at that time to be signed at the event. Visit or for more information and to register. (Scott Renshaw)

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Juneteenth Events
Now that Utah has finally recognized Juneteenth as an official holiday, there's really no excuse not to join in the celebratory mood of the occasion, recognizing the date when news of the abolition of slavery reached enslaved people in Texas. Wherever you are in the state, there's a way for you to experience the festivities.

The state's biggest celebration is the 35th annual Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival, sponsored by the Project Success Coalition, and taking place at the Ogden City Amphitheater (343 E. 25th St.) on June 14 – 16, noon – 9 p.m. daily. June 14 features a ceremonial flag-raising and concert featuring national rap recording artist Pastor Troy. On June 15, the festival showcases local and regional artists plus headliner J. Holiday, a youth activity/creativity village, and the Mr. and Miss Juneteenth presentation; while June 16 includes the always-entertaining Barber Battle and Braids Battle, Father's Day car shows and music including the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir. Events are free and open to the public; visit for full schedule of events and additional information.

Meanwhile, on June 19th proper, Salt Lake City's own event takes place at The Gateway (400 W. 200 South) from 11 a.m. 8 p.m. The free event is scheduled to combine history, cultural experiences and family-friendly fun including roller skating, a kids' corner and live entertainment. You can also check out the Black Owned Business Expo, a pop-up Black art gallery and Black history on-site museum. Visit for additional event information. (SR)

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SAW: The Musical – The Unauthorized Parody of "Saw"
Okay, I can hear you thinking: "Saw? The horror movie with all the complicated torture apparatus? Somehow, someone turned that into a musical, and a hella gay one at that?" Yes, it is indeed based on the original hit Saw that came out of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival—and yes, it is as unapologetically queer as it is unapologetically gory.

Producer Cooper Jordan and his sister Zoe Ann Jordan (who wrote the script) looked at the premise—involving a killer psychotically determined to make people appreciate their lives—and turned it into a campy off-Broadway allegory about the relationship between these two men trapped together in a bathroom. In an April 2024 interview with Assignment X, Zoe Ann Jordan said, "[Horror is] maybe the genre where queer people have felt more represented than anywhere else, because of the Hays Code, and because of how queers were treated in the early days of cinema, when they were only able to be depicted as villains and as monsters. That sort of transformed itself into the representation now that they feel drawn to, because that has been the representation that they've had for so many years, and it's a way that they've reclaimed it, is that there are all these queer subtexts and themes in horror films."

The touring production of SAW: The Musical – The Unauthorized Parody of Saw runs June 14 – 23 at the Midvale Performing Arts Center Studio 5400 (2525 Taylorsville Blvd., Taylorsville), with tickets beginning at $30. Visit to purchase tickets and for additional event information. (SR)