- Jim Martin
Wasatch Theatre Co.: Teacher Truths
Americans talk a good game about respecting teachers, but it's generally hard to square that talk with the realities of the classroom experience: insufficient financing, huge class sizes and a system that puts teachers in a position of spending out of their own underpaid pockets for basic supply needs. And that is all in a typical year, not one where coming to work in the midst of a pandemic—and given insufficient preparation and resources by many state and district entities—has also become an existential threat. More than ever, instead of talking at teachers about what they need to do, it's clear this is a time to listen to them.
Wasatch Theatre Co. and its co-founder/artistic director, Jim Martin, did exactly that for a special production kicking off the company's 23rd season. Martin's original play Teacher Truths is drawn from the real-life stories of classroom teachers, sharing realities beyond the kind of inspirational tales that make for feel-good Hollywood movies but don't necessarily get at the day-to-day experiences of working with students. Himself an educator with more than two decades of experience as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and principal supervisor, Martin crafts these many narratives into a show that features the talents of both local actors and actors performing from Texas and New York.
This virtual performance features remote but live-streamed performances continuing Oct. 9-11 at 7:30 p.m., plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 11 that will also feature a post-performance audience talk-back opportunity. Tickets are $20 to receive a performance link, available at wasatchtheatre.org. (Scott Renshaw)
- Denae Shanidiin
Granary Arts: Facing Home
The past four years have been a scary time for many who find government policy and its loud supporters defining "American" in a way that excludes them. The notion of who "belongs" here continues to be contentious thanks to limited and race-based perspectives. In the middle of a tumultuous year, Granary Arts (86 N. Main St., Ephraim, granaryarts.org) presents the joint exhibition Facing Home, with artists Nancy Rivera and Denae Shanidiin exploring how their respective multicultural identities and the ways in which they define what "home" is to them.
Rivera—a Salt Lake City resident born in Mexico City, and an immigrant to the U.S. with her family at a young age—employs government-issued immigration documents, family photos and images from her return visits to Mexico to present a portrait of what it means to be a first generation Mexican-American. She currently manages Visual Arts Program at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.
Local photographer Shanidiin digs into her own background as a member of the Diné nation through images looking at the softness and resilience she embodies ("Shícho" is picture). Her projects reveal the importance of Indigenous spirituality, sovereignty and matriarchal identity, and brings awareness to contemporary First Nation issues.
Facing Home runs through Jan. 22, 2021, in conjunction with Steven Stallings Cardenas' exhibition Pan Para Mi, which questions the idea of European "artisanry" by way of the art of baking. Rivera and Shanidiin will participate in a virtual Artist Talk about the exhibition via Instagram Live @granaryarts on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. (SR)
- Penguin Books
Jennifer Ackerman: The Bird Way
During the pandemic, many of us have turned to nature as a balm, appreciating other creatures and the world around us to provide moments of serenity. Yet even as we find happiness in some of the inhabitants of our natural world, we don't always know them like we think we do. You only need to consider the way we use "bird-brain" as an insult to realize that most of us have a very limited understanding of how complex a bird's brain really is.
In a Fall Forum co-sponsored by Great Salt Lake Audubon and Great Salt Lake Institute, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ackerman (The Genius of Birds) presents her new book The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think in a virtual presentation via The King's English Bookshop. A 30-year veteran of writing about nature and science, Ackerman addresses the distinctiveness of bird behaviors and the new research that has turned much traditional thinking about birds' lives upside-down. Her personal observations and exploration of scientific studies allows for new and perhaps even startling insight into the way birds communicate with one another, engage in activities like cheating and kidnapping, and often play and collaborate with one another.
This special presentation on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. is free to the public with advance registration required, and includes audio, video and photography from Ackerman's research travels, ranging from tropical rainforests to the islands of Alaska. Order a copy of The Bird Way through kingsenglish.com to receive an autographed bookplate while supplies last. (SR)
- Courtesy Photo
Virtual Book Club with Nadya Tolokonnikova: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism
On Oct. 7, Utah Presents and Kingsbury Hall hosted the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, presenting a stark contrast in visions regarding freedom and democracy. On the following day, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., Utah Presents and Kingsbury Hall offers a slightly different perspective on making a political difference, from someone who made her name by getting loud and controversial about freedom and democracy.
In 2011, the mostly-anonymous activist collective/band Pussy Riot formed in Moscow, blasting a feminist and anti-authoritarian message with a punk edge through Vladimir Putin's Russia. Nadya Tolokonnikova—previously a member of an anarchist art collective—was ultimately identified as one of the group's co-founders, in a high-profile court case in 2012, where she and two fellow Pussy Riot members were ultimately convicted of "hooliganism." Upon her release in 2013 after a sentence where she engaged in a hunger strike, Tolokonnikova continued to stir up good trouble, including publishing a 2016 memoir, How to Start a Revolution, and writing and touring with the musical production Riot Days.
The Utah Presents Virtual Book Club brings Tolokonnikova to local audiences in a Pussy Riot Guide to Activism that is scheduled to include a conversation about her approach to being an activist, and her "ten rules for revolution." Purchase tickets at utahpresents.org for a recommended $45 per person donation to support Utah Presents, then join in the discussion at a time when it feels like we all need to learn how to make things difficult for authoritarians. (SR)