The Valley of the Sun
Offers Lots of Fun
The 2007 USITT Conference & Stage Expo is just around the corner!
The activity-filled conference week in Phoenix, Arizona begins with Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) offered from Sunday, March 11 through Tuesday, March 13. Some have sold out, and many others are near capacity.
The Conference kicks off with keynote speaker David Ira Goldstein, artistic director of the Arizona Theatre Company (ATC), speaking at the historic Orpheum Theatre. ATC is Arizona's largest professional, not-for-profit theater company and is recognized as the State Theatre of Arizona. Mr. Goldstein has been the artistic director since 1992. Following the keynote, the balance of the conference week includes three and a half days of educational sessions and Stage Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The Hyatt hotel in downtown Phoenix is designated as the conference hotel. When checking into the Hyatt, some points of interest include the wildlife head sculptures behind the check-in desk as well as the permanent installation on the second story atrium. This installation is artist Albert Guibara's interpretation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, using the Southwest's native wildlife as characters. It was commissioned in 1997 by the hotel.
Here's a brief rundown of some Phoenix highlights, many of which were detailed in Sightlines issues over the past few months:
Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum offers two exhibits that might be of special interest to conference goers. The Thorne Miniature Rooms collection houses 20 of Mrs. James Ward Thorne's miniature rooms constructed to a scale of one inch to one foot. Only 99 such pieces exist, a majority of which are at the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of Mrs. Thorne's rooms are exact replicas of existing houses in the United States and Europe dating from the 15th through the 20th centuries. The rooms faithfully depict the architecture and interior design of their periods and countries. Some of the rooms even contain miniature period-style rugs that Mrs. Thorne commissioned to be woven specifically for each space. The rooms are lit to look very natural, with light spilling in through a hallway or through carefully placed windows.
Also on exhibit in the Fashion Design Gallery will be "After Dark: 100 Years of the Evening Dress." The exhibit features turn-of-the-century floral velvets to elaborately embroidered silk couture gowns of the mid-century. This exhibition chronicles the last 100 years of glamorous evening attire and features more than 25 exquisite gowns drawn from the museum's permanent collection of Chanel, Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Mainbocher, Charles James, and others.
The Heard Museum celebrates the native peoples of the Southwest. It has one of the most outstanding collections of Native American artwork in the country. The museum houses collections from indigenous cultures throughout the world but focuses on the native people of the Southwest. The collections range from historic artifacts to contemporary fine art.
One activity to enjoy while in Phoenix is a day hike. Find more detailed information about the hiking trail systems and preserves, as well as fun facts about the mountains that surround Phoenix, at phoenix.gov/PARKS/hikemain.html. Some locations include handicapped-accessible trails. The preserves are free to the public and most are open sunrise to sunset. Hikers have the opportunity to discover breathtaking views of the Valley of the Sun and possibly glimpse some of the native Sonoran Desert plants and animals such as bursage, brittlebush, creosote bush, palo verde trees, saguaro cactus, Gila monsters, horned lizards, geckos, javelina, and roadrunners.
Desert Botanical Gardens
Another breathtaking way to get acquainted with the offerings of the desert climate is to tour the Desert Botanical Gardens. The gardens are located in northern Phoenix. The Desert Botanical Gardens boasts 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits featuring hundreds of types of cacti from around the world. It is also home to 139 rare, threatened, or endangered plant species from around the world.
Golf lovers are in for a treat when in Phoenix. The National Golf Foundation calls the Phoenix area the "Golf Capital of the World." Phoenix offers a wide range of courses to fit everyone's skill level and budget, from basic city-managed courses to some of the best resort-managed courses in the nation. For an exhaustive list of many of the courses in Arizona, the Arizona Office of Tourism website provides information and links to 300 courses in Arizona.
Spring Training Baseball
Are you a baseball fan? Throughout March, Phoenix and several surrounding cities host spring training for Major League Baseball's Cactus League. What began as a two-team league in 1947 has grown to 12 teams playing in seven cities throughout the state -- nine teams in the Phoenix area and three in Tucson (two hours south of Phoenix). During the week of the USITT conference, nearly every team plays a game every day. Most games start at 1:05 p.m. with a limited number of evening games. Sometimes teams play twice in one day with a split squad (or half the team) at each game. Ticket prices range from $2 to $26 depending on the team. The official website for the Cactus League includes all of the tentative game schedules, box office phone numbers, and notable facts.
Spring training can be a fantastic way to enjoy America's pastime for a fraction of the usual Major League price, so when planning your trip to Phoenix for the conference, come a day early or stay a day late and take in a great game, great players, hot dogs, peanuts, cheap tickets, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the athletes.