Remembering Ludlow: A roundup of commemorative events

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The Ludlow Memorial.
A century ago this week, a long-simmering conflict between miners on strike in the southern Colorado coalfields and troops of the Colorado National Guard erupted into the deadliest labor war in American history. A raging gun battle on April 20, 1914, resulted in the destruction of the strikers' Ludlow tent colony and the deaths of nearly two dozen people -- most of them women and children who'd sought refuge from the shooting in a small cellar under one of the tents. The Ludlow Massacre, as it became known, is one of the darkest yet most neglected chapters of state history -- but a slew of commemorative events planned to mark its hundredth anniversary could help change that.

See also:
Best History Book 2009 -- Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War

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Ozomatli's Raul Pacheco on collaboration, creativity and Dreaming Sin Fronteras

Categories: Activism, Theater

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Courtesy of Shawn King
Dante Pascuzzo plays guitar on a recording for Dreaming Sin Fronteras.
When DeVotchKa'sShawn King approached Raul Pacheco to collaborate, he accepted the invitation with open arms. Despite being in the middle of recording, releasing and then touring for Ozomatli's new album, Place in the Sun, Pacheco carved out time to work on Dreaming Sin Fronteras: Stories of Immigration and American Identity, a multimedia, theatrical exploration of the true stories of dreamers: undocumented youth seeking a clear path to U.S. citizenship. The show opens Friday, March 21 at North High; in advance of Dreaming Sin Fronteras's two-day run, Westword spoke with Pacheco about creativity, Place in the Sun and the new production.

See also: DeVotchKa's Shawn King on Dreaming Sin Fronteras, art and immigration


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DeVotchKa's Shawn King on Dreaming Sin Fronteras, art and immigration

Categories: Activism, Theater

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Courtesy of Shawn King
In Dreaming Sin Fronteras, Raul Pacheco, Cesi Bastida and Shawn King use the power of music.
DeVoktchKa's Shawn King may not think too highly of didactic protest songs, but he has devoted himself to Dreaming Sin Fronteras: Stories of Immigration and American Identity, a massive theatrical collaboration about "dreamers": undocumented students who have been in the United States since they were children and are seeking a clear path to citizenship. Working with local director José Antonio Mercado and fellow music director Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli, King has curated a lineup of nationally renowned musicians to bring their talents to the stories of undocumented youth. In advance of the March 21 opening, Westword spoke with King about the project.

See also: Poet Yosimar Reyes on the power of personal narratives


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Anthony J. Garcia on Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas

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Valeriana Sloan
Yolanda Ortega, Magally Luna and Debra Gallegos rehearse for Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas.
Amongst the striking coal miners and their family members murdered by the Colorado National Guard during the Ludlow Massacre were five Mexican-American children. To commemorate this almost-forgotten chapter of history, Su Teatro's Anthony J. Garcia wrote Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas (The Cry of the Mines); he's directing a production of the play that will open tomorrow, March 13. In advance of the opening, Westword spoke with Garcia about the Ludlow Massacre, Chicano history and Su Teatro's new show.

See also: CSU-Pueblo Professor Tim McGettigan locked out for likening layoffs to Ludlow Massacre.


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Germinal Stage returns with a new season in a new location

Categories: Theater

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Kristina Denise Pitt and Ed Baierlein in Heartbreak House.
Ed Baierlein founded Germinal Stage in 1973 in a Market Street space, and later moved to a tiny theater on West 44th Avenue, just off Federal Boulevard. Here, for 26 years, he staged an eclectic mix of American and European plays: some experimental, others realistic, some profound and others just profoundly funny.

Last year, Baierlein sold the building and closed things up. Now Germinal is returning for a summer season at the 73rd Avenue Playhouse in Westminster. The building, which originally lacked a bathroom, has been refurbished and has just passed inspection. "Now that we're officially good to go, I just have to tell people about it," says Baierlein.

See also: Germinal Stage is leaving its theater building, but the memories play on

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100 Colorado Creatives: Jose Mercado

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#8: Jose Mercado

A Greeley native who left for schooling and a chance at the limelight in L.A., Jose Mercado returned to the state after garnering praise and awards on the stage in California. He took a job teaching theater at North High School in Denver, and his future path was set: Mercado went on to famously stage a production of the Latino classic, Zoot Suit, that lifted barrio kids up off the street and eventually even hit the big time with a performance at the Buell Theatre. He's since gone on to teach at the University of Colorado at Denver, and when he's not doing that, he's spearheaded many side-projects on the side over the years: the youth arts program Labyrinth at PlatteForum, an ongoing campaign to refurbish the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre for community use, and a private evening theater academy for adults, among other things. He's also lent a hand in bringing some of his Hollywood friends to Denver for performances, lectures and fundraisers, including Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Wendell Pierce.

Now, he's kicking off a new touring show, Dreaming Sin Fronteras, right back on the familiar North High stage in March. Mercado's a guy who makes things happens; read his 100CC questionnaire to find out what inspires him to keep going, no matter what.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: donnie l. betts


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Beth Stelling on Sexpot Comedy, writing plays and tiny failures

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Mandee Johnson
Los Angeles-based comedian Beth Stelling has appeared on Conan, recently won the Internet on Comedy Central's @Midnight and has a debut album Sweet Beth available from Rooftop Comedy. Stelling, who cut her teeth in Chicago's vibrant comedy scene, will be in Denver Friday to co-headline Sexpot Comedy's Ice Queens and Ice Wizards comedy showcase with Kate Berlant. In advance of the show, we caught up with Stelling for an early morning phone interview, punctuated by adorable kitten yawns, to talk about Ice Queens, the tiny failures of open mics, and co-writing her play Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche.

See also: Ten best comedy events in Denver this January

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Chay Yew on Marcus Gardley's Black Odyssey, which premieres tonight

Categories: Theater

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Chay Yew is a hot director who was in the news a year or two ago when he took over Chicago's acclaimed Victory Gardens Theatre and made several controversial changes. The strife at the time, according to the New York Times, "recalls family melodramas like August Osage County or even King Lear (minus the murders)." Yew reconfigured the theater's celebrated Playwrights Ensemble, retiring such eminent names as Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics, seen at the Aurora Fox in 2007) and John Logan, who wrote Red (recently given a terrific production by Curious Theatre) and replacing them with four hot new writers. One of these writers was Samuel D. Hunter, whom Denver audiences will remember for The Whale, a play that premiered at the Denver Center Theatre Company, went on to critical acclaim in New York and was produced by Yew in Chicago last year. Another was Marcus Gardley, who was in Denver for last year's New Play Summit, when his Black Odyssey was workshopped. Now the full production -- directed by Yew -- will open at the Denver Center tonight.

See also: Marcus Gardley debuts Black Odyssey at New Play Summit

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Luis Valdez on Cesar Chavez, El Teatro Campesino and the Christmas play La Pastorela

Categories: Theater

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Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino.
Luis Valdez, whose Christmas play La Pastorela just opened at Denver's Su Teatro, first met Cesar Chavez when he was six, growing up among the migrant workers of Delano, California, where the United Farm Workers movement took root in the nonviolent strikes and grape boycotts of the '60s and '70s.

It was in that atmosphere that Valdez formed El Teatro Campesino, performing political actos in the streets, alongside Chavez and his marchers. The young upstart, who'd studied playwriting in college and learned the ropes of street theater as a member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, brought the power of education to the table, creating a transformative wing of American theater while creating community through art. As Su Teatro's Tony Garcia says, there would be no Chicano theater without Luis Valdez.

See also: La Pastorela (The Shepherd's Play), at Su Teatro


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Chase Padgett on 6 Guitars, his musical one-man show

Categories: Theater

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When she tours fringe festivals around the world, Gemma Wilcox sees a lot of performances. "When I see an incredible show that blows everything else out of the water, it's very rare," says Wilcox. But when she finds something special, she likes to bring it to Boulder. 6 Guitars is one of those shows, starring actor and musician Chase Padgett as six different guitar players of multiple genres; he performs original music and standards and tell stories along the way. In advance of this weekend's shows -- at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 6 and Saturdaym December 7 at Wesley Chapel Theatre, we caught up with Chase Padgett to learn how the show came to be, how fringe festivals foster creativity, and why he loves the guitar.

See also: Gemma Wilcox on playing 21 characters in Fringe Fest's Magical Mystery Detour

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