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Just a Canadian girl livin in the USA...

Pima volunteers ‘RISE’ for homeless

Pima volunteers ‘RISE’ for homeless


Homelessness remains a pervasive problem in America. The Tucson/Pima Coalition to End Homelessness reported 1,762 homeless people in January 2016. Of those, 281 were veterans. The 2017 count has just been completed and results are being tabulated.

We may ask, what can we do to help end homelessness? Pima Community College student Garrett Encinas began to answer that question with his Honors-inspired project, Homeless Care Package Drive.

Garrett Encinas prepares a backpack with his sister Caitlin Encinas at a Homeless Care Package Drive station at East Campus.
Robyn Zelickson / Aztec Press

The project puts together backpacks filled with products for the homeless. Donation boxes are located on each campus. East Campus has a box in the library and all other campuses have a box in the Student Life office.

“It’s that little spark of hope, that little tiny glimmer of light, that’s kind of the driving force,” Encinas said. “Even if just one person can benefit, that would be really awesome.”

He was motivated by an emotional incident last year in Reid Park. He noticed an obviously homeless man with a hole in his pants. Encinas gave the man a new pair of pants from one of the backpacks.

Encinas also took out some sunscreen and Chapstick. At that moment, the man began to cry.

“That was when I realized the significance of the impact for some of the people that we are helping,” Encinas said. “Most people just walk by them or don’t know what to do and so they just do nothing.”

The Homeless Care Package Drive is working on getting a tax number so volunteers can solicit donations from businesses as well. This would expand the project into the community.

“All of Texas Roadhouse’s locations have a donation box and I’m hoping to find a way to get more publicity out so that people really can see that they have a way to help,” Encinas said.

Encinas’ sister Gabrielle “Gabby” Encinas is also an Honors student. She had to develop her own project.

While researching, Gabby Encinas found information on Pinterest about plastic yarn – plarn. She knew the material could help both the environment and the homeless.

Garrett Encinas explained how his sister uses plarn to make mats.

“Gabby takes plastic bags, cuts them into sheets and ties them together into balls that look like yarn,” he said. “She takes the plarn and weaves it into mats. She takes those mats, which are 3 foot by 3 foot, and puts two together to make a 6 foot by 3 foot mat.”

The mats are light, very portable and more comfortable to lie on than cement or dirt.

Gabby Encinas experimented to find the best technique.

“I actually started out crocheting the mats but I was advised to try weaving and it really sped up my process,” she said.

She can finish three full-size mats a month, if she stays motivated. Her goal is to make 30 mats by April 22 and 50 mats by the end of the semester.

Garrett Encinas said it’s been fun to work together as a family. They have another sister, Caitlin Encinas, who helps both of them by putting together backpacks and by weaving plarn.

Honors student Corinne Anderson will host a Resources Information Services and Education, or RISE, event as part of her project to serve homeless veterans and civilians on April 22 at the Downtown Campus Amethyst Room from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Volunteers will give out backpacks and plarn mats during the event. There will also be social services representatives available to provide assistance in various areas.

“So far we have several service organizations on board, and volunteer doctors nurses from Clinica Amistad,” Anderson said. “And we are adding new agencies every day.”

Most of the RISE and Homeless Care Package Drive volunteers attend classes at East Campus, and enjoy being part of a close-knit community.

Although the Honors Club is fairly small, larger organizations such as the Gamer’s Club provide volunteers for staffing tables to spread awareness, assembling backpacks and gathering donations.

Gabriel “Gabby” Encinas weaves plastic yarn known as “plarn” into a sleeping mat.
Robyn Zelickson / Aztec Press

“I think that community spirit is what has made this drive so successful,” Garrett Encinas said. “I can’t even imagine how much success we’d have if we could get the same community spirit at a big campus like West or Downtown.”

His goal is to expand the project in order to help more people. He wants to help both the homeless and the volunteers who work on the project.

“I want to give people the opportunity to feel empowered,” he said. “So that people can start their own project, see something that they can do or find their passion, which will have a domino effect, where Pima students can be making a difference in the world.”

A list of requested donation items is available at For further information on the Homeless Care Package Drive or RISE, contact East Campus Student Life by email at EC-StudentLife@ or call 206-7616.



Compiled by Robyn Zelickson

‘Vagina Monologues’ returns March 23

Pima Community College West Campus will host a free performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.

The seventh annual production will feature a cast of PCC students, faculty, staff and alumni sharing powerful stories based on a play written by Eve Ensler.

The production is open to the public. Although there is no charge, donations will benefit the nonprofit EMERGE! Center Against Domestic Violence.

For additional information, call 206-6742.

Cababi accepting employee submissions

A PCC employee art and literary magazine, Cababi, is soliciting submissions from faculty, staff and administrators. Deadline is May 20.

The magazine accepts unpublished work in categories that include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, painting, sculpture, essays, editorials, satire, travel endeavors, culinary feats and performance art.

Cababi dedicated its 2016-2017 issue to writing instructor Meg Files, who retired in December 2016 after 30 years at the colleg

For rules and to submit work, visit

Andres a finalist for governor’s art award

David Andres, director of PCC’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery and an adjunct instructor, has been named one of three finalists for a 2017 Governor’s Art Award.

Andres was nominated in the Arts in Education–Individual category. The other two finalists are Mary Erickson of Tempe and Dennis Ott of Sedona.

Honorees will be named at a Governor’s Arts Awards Gala on May 4 at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale.

For further information, visit

Rodriguez wins Molly Starr scholarship

PCC student Lucas Rodriguez, who played the lead role in recent performances of “In the Heights,” has received the theater department’s 2017 Molly Starr scholarship.

When director Todd Poelstra announced the award following a March 2 performance, audience members gave Rodriquez a standing ovation.

The scholarship provides $250 per semester for two semesters. Friends and family created the Molly Starr Scholarship Endowment to memorialize the well-known member of the Tucson theater community.

Bernal Gallery receives $1,925 donation

PCC’s Bernal Gallery benefitted with a donation of $1,925 from a charity drive held to raise money and to spotlight the Southern Arizona community of glass artists.

Mr. Head’s Gallery and Bar hosted the Second Annual Desert Fire Charity Drive Feb.2-5.

Micah Blatt of Mr. Head’s and Fathead Glass, Chris Drury of Ammazzi Glass, Josh Forche and Brett Hughes of Zombie Hand Studios and Brian Jacobsen worked together in the Fathead Glass Studio to create and donate glass art for sale.

Jacobsen is a former PCC student who took Andres’ gallery and museum practices class. He now works at Desert Glass Gallery creating functional glass pieces and figurines.

Bernal Gallery director David Andres and dean of arts and humanities Tom Nevill accepted the donation. The PCC Foundation will use the money to award scholarships for visual arts students.

FROM THE EDITOR: College encourages arts' excellence

FROM THE EDITOR: College encourages arts’ excellence


Music. Art. Theater. Dance.

Before I worked on the Aztec Press, I was oblivious to these programs at Pima Community College.

Because I’ve been interested in the arts from a young age, however, I was naturally drawn to writing about arts and entertainment.

When I take a trip down memory lane, I can look from last September to the present and recall highlights of meeting some of Pima’s many talented and interesting people.

One of my favorite people in the Theatre Arts department, Mickey Nugent, was a delight to interview both for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “In the Heights.” With an extensive background in theater going back to his Broadway days, he is warm and funny.

Todd Poelstra, the program coordinator for PCC Theatre Arts, is a man of many hats. Poelstra directs, handles lighting and set-building and additionally was a key part of the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. He is a quiet man with immense skill.

Nolan Kubota, dance faculty, was a pleasure to encounter. He has danced in theaters around the world and entertained many while a part of renowned dance companies. Look for more on Kubota in a profile by colleague Nicholas Trujillo in an upcoming issue.

David Andres was also a joy to get to know and a pleasure to bond with over our mutual love and concern for the future of our oceans. His art is brilliant and very moving. I have my fingers crossed for him to win the Governor’s Arts Award this semester.

I look forward to getting to know some of the gifted faculty in the music department, including Jonathan Ng, Mark Nelson, Mike Kuhn, Alexander Tentser, Alex Cardieri, Michael Lich and Jeff Sanders – an extensive list.

Carol Carder, the marketing and public relations director for the Center of the Arts at the West Campus, has been a helpful guide along the way. Her dedication to publicizing events is phenomenal and she’s been my partner-in-crime on many a story.

No column would be complete without mentioning my beloved Aztec Press co-workers, who have helped me to learn about excellence in writing and photography. You’ve all inspired me to improve and taught me about our craft and about life.

Last but certainly not least, there’s our adviser and fearless leader Cynthia Lancaster, who is leaving us at the end of this semester. It’s tough to put into simple words what her influence has meant to me. Travel safe and enjoy your retirement, Cynthia.

The newsroom has been a blessing to me in times when I needed a second home. It’s a serious yet joyful place, full of humor and, let’s not forget, dope music.

Director Andres nominated for prestigious award

Director Andres nominated for prestigious award

David Andres shows off artwork titled “The Genetically Modified Forest” by Sean-Paul Pluguez in the West Campus Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery.


Pima Community College’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery director David Andres works in his office, sorting through images to send to panels of volunteers who evaluate nominees and choose winners for the Governor’s Arts Awards.

Bailey Doogan, a friend and fellow artist, nominated Andres for the Governor’s Award. Doogan is an emeritus faculty member at the University of Arizona.

The Governor’s Awards cover seven categories based on contributions, accomplishments and commitment to the arts. There is also a separate philanthropy award.

The nomination is not Andres’ first honor. He won a Lumie Arts Educator award in 2012 from the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Lumies celebrate art and its impact in Southern Arizona.

“All of those things are such a surprise to me,” Andres said. “There are so many more deserving people. I was totally honored to be nominated.”

Carol Carder, marketing/public relations director for Pima’s Center for the Arts, is assisting Andres with his art submissions.

“Usually the winner is someone with a doctorate who lives and works in the Phoenix area,” Andres said. “However, Carol told me to ‘have faith!’”

Andres is nominated in the Arts in Education – Individual category. The Arizona Citizens for the Arts website describes nominees as follows:

“This award recognizes educators, teaching artists, school administrators or school volunteers that have demonstrated significant support or participation in activities which foster excellence in, appreciation of, or access to arts education in the State of Arizona.”

Andres grew up in Kansas and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Kansas State University, where he met his wife, Julie, who is a sculptor.

They later moved to Tucson, where Andres obtained his Master of Fine Arts in arts education at UA.

He took a position as an Artist in Residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and worked with teachers for 15 years on integrating art into classroom curriculum. He traveled from Page to Nogales and from Yuma to Show Low.

Andres later worked as an Artist in Residence at the K-12 level in Tempe, commuting three days a week from Tucson to spare his family a move to Phoenix.

As an artist, Andres incorporates ocean themes into his work, inspired by his adventures as a scuba diver. He has been a diver for more than 30 years and lived for a time on a sailboat in San Carlos.

Andres’ “Entanglement” shows algae trapped in a fragment of gillnet in the Sea of Cortez

He also does underwater photography in the Sea of Cortez and in the Pacific Ocean near Catalina Island. Most of his photography takes place during night dives.

Andres has worked on a gillnetting art series for 15 years. Some hauntingly beautiful compositions depict sea creatures trapped in pieces of net.

He’s noticed a big drop in the number of mantis and sharks over the years, mainly in the Sea of Cortez, due to the practice of gillnetting.

“What I’ve seen when I’ve been diving is you don’t even notice it, and then all of a sudden it’s on you, fragments of it, not like one big gigantic net,” Andres said. “So this has been my attempt at bringing awareness about the problems with it.”

One 2007 piece, “Entanglement,” depicts algae interwoven in a piece of gillnet.

Andres sets out the pieces and paints on different colors, one layer at a time. He allows each layer to dry and blends a new color with the last, forming a unique color pattern.

He’s one of 24 artists currently exhibiting at the Arizona Museum of Art. His art also represents the Sea of Cortez in a group show about the Sonoran desert at Tohono Chul Park.

In addition to serving as director of the Bernal Gallery, Andres works as an adjunct at Pima. He teaches gallery and museum practices, printmaking and design.

“I didn’t want to give up teaching,” he said. “I’ve been teaching a long time. I’ve taught K-12, but like this age best. It’s such a wide variety of students.”

‘IN THE HEIGHTS:’ Musical features all-Latin student cast

‘IN THE HEIGHTS:’ Musical features all-Latin student cast



Costumed actors mill around, waiting for rehearsal to begin. Todd Poelstra, the director for “In the Heights,” stands at a lighting station on the Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre stage.

Choreographer Mickey Nugent arrives to work with his singer/dancers. Although he’s choreographed hundreds of shows, he’s excited about working for the first time with hip-hop dance.

“We base our choreography on the original,” he says. “Not copying it exactly, just using the Latin flavor of the rhythms.”

“In the Heights” was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has recently gained fame for his award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton.” In true Miranda style, “Heights” features hip-hop lyrics, Latin rhythms and dance.

“When I was in New York teaching, one of my students was in the original cast of ‘In the Heights,’ which was the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first production,” Nugent says. “I met him and he was so kind, just as he is today.”

Nugent is also very proud that “Heights” features the first all-Latin cast in the history of Pima Community College.

Martha Reed, a piano teacher and the Fine Arts department chair at Tucson High Magnet School, is the musical director. This is her fourth show with Pima, although she has worked with Nugent previously.

“My job with the cast is to teach the songs and give vocal direction,” Reed says. “And I work with Mickey on some character development during the songs. It’s all a collaborative effort.”

Reed also works with pit orchestra conductor Mark Nelson on the music that underscores the dialog.

“In the Heights” is based on a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It tells the story of Dominican immigrants in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Usnavi, the main character, observes his fellow residents in his bodega. He shares their dreams for the future as they learn to blend Dominican traditions with their new culture in Washington Heights.

Tickets cost $18, with discounts available at


“In the Heights”

Where: Proscenium Theatre, West Campus CFA

When: Feb. 23-March 5 Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $18, with discounts available

Box office: 206-6986

Opening night features Carnaval Del Barrio

 The Center for the Arts will host an opening night pre-show celebration for patrons who purchase a ticket to the Feb. 23 performance of “In the Heights.” The Carnaval Del Barrio neighborhood intercultural party will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the CFA courtyard.

Activities will include a hip-hop dance-off, rap demonstrations, graffiti walls, a photo booth, trivia and Spanish word contests.

Refreshments include café con leche, horchata, plantano chips and empañadas.

Local businesses have donated prizes ranging from an iPod to theater tickets and gift certificates.

In addition, opening-night patrons will be entered into a grand prize Golden Ticket drawing for a pass to every PCC performing arts production in the 2017-18 season.


Usnavi de la Vega: Lucas Rodriguez

Nina Rosario: Angelica Ornelas

Kevin Rosario: Jonathan Heras

Camila Rosario: Leticia Gonzalez

Benny: Jeffrey Baden

Vanessa: Taylor Falshaw

Sonny: Hernan Gonzalez

Abuela Claudia: Oksana Perez

Carla: Nathalie Rodriguez

Daniela: Bianca Regalado

Piragüero: Rafael Acuña

Graffiti Pete: Cole Potwardowski

Ensemble: Savannah Martinez, Sergio Munoz, Adrian Encinas, Xstasi/Marco Gutierrez, Marchus Lewis, Eduardo Rodriguez, Taylor Hernandez, Clarrissa Rodriguez, Moira Carrillo, Veronica Conran, Alyssa Furtado

Taylor Falshaw, Bianca Regaldo and Nathalie Rodriguez pamper Angelica Ornelas in Daniela’s Salon in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights.
Robyn Zelickson/Aztec Press


From left, Sergio Munoz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Adrian Encinas, Marco Gutierrez and Marchus Lewis check out Taylor Falshaw in a scene from “In the Heights” playing at the Proscenium Theatre Feb. 23 – March 5.
Robyn Zelickson/Aztec Press

Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’

Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’


Christian Youth Theater will stage its production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Feb. 3-5 in the Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre. Performances run Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The young actors are divided into two casts of 22 performers.

In one cast, Nathanial Ullman plays Charlie Brown. Ullman has been with CYT since its 2011 production of “Secret Garden.”

“I’ve always been in the arts and enjoyed music,” he said.

Ullman attends Empire High School and will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall on a scholarship, where he will major in music.

In the other cast, Tristan Acevedo plays Linus Van Pelt. Acevedo joined CYT in 2008. His first performance was in “Les Miserables.”

He is active in the Cienega High School marching band and just completed fundraising for a trip to Orlando to perform and to attend master music classes.

“This will be an opportunity of a lifetime for me,” Acevedo said of the Orlando trip. “I would also like to do community theater and perform in ‘Cats’ with Arts Express.”

Clark Gesner originally brought Charles M. Schultz’s “Peanuts” characters to life in a 1967 musical comedy.

The book for the show was credited to John Gordon, a collective pseudonym that represented the cast and production staff who all worked together to create the script.

In the beginning, Gesner’s music was merely a concept album and was produced on stage as a series of vignettes with musical numbers for each. Ultimately, an off-Broadway production was created, featuring Gary Burghoff as Charlie Brown.

In 1999, Gesner’s creation morphed into a Broadway musical comedy by director Michael Mayer and various collaborators, with new songs, choreography and sets.

Kristin Chenowith played Sally Brown and Roger Bart played Snoopy, with both winning Tony awards for their performances.

CYT director Sean William Dupont’s production honors Gesner’s version in a series of vignettes. Although Dupont started with CYT last fall, he has been involved in theater since his high school days at Santa Rita High School.

He has directed and performed in shows from Tucson’s Invisible Theatre to London, England’s East 15 Acting School, where he received his MFA in theatre directing.

He taught Introduction to Comedy for CYT in the fall and will teach other classes in the future. Dupont has experience in many areas of theater, including design, set building and lighting.

His biggest challenge in “Charlie” is managing the large group.

“Each cast has to get a fair share of rehearsal time but they watch and learn from each other,” Dupont said. “They encourage each other in order to put the best show forward.”

CYT is in the middle of its 11th season in Tucson. It began 32 years ago in San Diego and now has companies nationwide. Locally, CYT stages three shows per year, one each in fall, winter and spring.

The company hosts two summer camps and offers classes throughout the school year. Subjects range from basic theater through vocal and dance to backstage and technical arts. Often, the classes emphasize what will be needed for upcoming productions.

Heather Kerr, CYT’s artistic director since 2015, will also be the director for an upcoming production of “James and the Giant Peach.” Auditions will be held Feb. 17-18.

Kerr describes the scenes and costumes for “James” as having a unique steampunk design.

“We will be the first in Arizona to offer the full musical version of ‘James and the Giant Peach,’” Kerr said. “We will offer a puppetry class so that we can make the puppets for the insects inside of the peach.”

“Charlie Brown” tickets cost $15, and can be purchased online. For further information, visit or call 751-7510.


“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

Where: Proscenium Theatre, CFA, West Campus

When: Feb. 3-5

Admission: $15

Phone: 751-7510


“Charlie Brown” cast includes Ben Busarow as Snoopy and, back row from eft, Debroah Christenson (Lucy), Ben Witham (Linus), Nathanial Ullmann (Charlie Brown), Alden Lester (Schroder), Lauryn Wallentin (Sally)
Photo by Darin Wallentine

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’


The Pima Community College Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery will host an art exhibit titled “Stillness” through March 5.

Bernal Gallery, under the direction of curator David Andres, is located on the West Campus in the Center for the Arts complex.

A reception will be held on Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. and the artists will discuss their work in an art lecture on March 1 at 7 p.m.

The exhibit highlights work by photographers Colin Blakely, Kate Breakey and Claire A. Warden and by sculptor Sean Paul Pluguez. Each artist has found a way to bring to life the concept of motionlessness in order to provide a mood of silence for the observer.

The mediums are distinct and varied, and showcase each artist’s individuality.

Blakely, the new chair at the University of Arizona School of Art, specializes in large-scale archival pigment prints with a focus on landscapes.

“Distinct from the notion of land, untrodden by human feet yet completely ravaged, the landscape exists only as an embodiment of our collective cultural imagination,” Blakely says in a news release.

Breakey uses a style known as encaustic to depict figurative archival digital prints with wax. She displays each still life in a distinctive frame.

She calls her motivation for photographing and displaying certain images a mystery but says she feels compelled to remember the objects.

“Maybe it is to remind myself that I am part of the grand taxonomy of all living things, and perhaps it is so I can know them better, and in so doing know myself,” she says.

Pluguez is displaying a large-scale installation from his AU79 Gold series. It is composed of lumber pieces and an 8-foot grape stake with 24-karat gold leaf, mounted on bases made of Baltic birch.

He says the piece represents man’s imperfections in dealing with our planet, noting “Nature itself is our harshest critic. The stillness of the forest is not indifference, but bemusement.”

Warden is exhibiting a series of pigment prints. Her technique involves using saliva and mark-making to represent issues of identity, knowledge and power.

“This process produces a series of images that reveal certain truths in identity and simultaneously the inadequacies of language to describe oneself,” she says.

The Bernal Gallery and its programs are free and open to the public. The facility is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., on Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and before most evening performances in the Center for the Arts theaters.

Additional “Stillness” images will be on display at the Tucson International Airport gallery through March 30.

For more information, call 206-6986, visit or email









Where: Bernal Gallery, CFA, West Campus

When: Through March 5

Admission: Free

Phone: 206-6986




Talks to explore ‘Frida’ topics

Two upcoming talks will explore aspects of artist Frida Kahlo’s work as part of an ongoing exhibit at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Pima Community College’s district office will host a free Feb. 3 lecture by Edward J. Sullivan, “Frida Kahlo as Subject and Object in Contemporary Art.” Sullivan, an art history professor at New York University, will speak from 6-7:30 p.m. The district office is located at 4095 E. Broadway Blvd.

Guadalupe Cruikshank, chair of PCC’s world languages department, will talk Feb. 9 on “The Popul Vuh: The Sacred Stories of the Maya Guadalupe.” Her talk will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Admission is $10.

For further information, visit or call 326-9686.

-By Daniella Campuzano


Vocal recital set for Feb. 12

PCC music instructor Jonathan Ng will perform a vocal recital, accompanied by Marie Sierra, on Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. in the West Campus Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

Aside from his teaching responsibilities, Ng is a lyric tenor who has performed across the U.S., Europe and in Hong Kong. The recital will explore various musical styles from Baroque to the 20th century.

Ng will perform selections for tenor by J.S. Bach, Benedetto Marcello, Franz Schubert and Roger Quilter. He’ll also include pieces for counter-tenor by Handel and Vivaldi.

Tickets are $8, with discounts for students/ seniors/ military/ PCC employees and groups of 10 or more.

For more information, call 206-6986, visit or email

 -By Robyn Zelickson


Submit SandScript entries by March 3

PCC’s award-winning literary magazine, SandScript, is accepting submissions from students for the 2017 edition. Deadline is March 3.

Guidelines are specific and must be carefully followed. No previously published work will be accepted and hard copies will not be returned.

Students may submit visual art, poetry, prose or a combination of all three. Each entry requires a separate form.

SandScript adviser Joshua Cochran is proud of the work published each year, and said participation continues to rise.

“Last year, the Downtown Campus was extremely well represented in submissions, and we could always use more from Northwest, East, Desert Vista and Community,” he said.

For more information, email For complete submission criteria, visit or

-By Robyn Zelickson


 ‘Heights’ contest entries due by Feb. 20

The theater arts program is sponsoring two contests as part of upcoming “In the Heights” performances.

The first contest is all about food and recipes. The idea is to share a favorite recipe that has been passed down in your family and represents your culture.

The second contest is about your neighborhood. Use a story, poem or photo to describe the neighborhood in which you live or work.

Each submission will be entered into a drawing for prizes. Prizes include gift cards to Drop Dance and Breakout Studios, Movement Culture, Harkin’s Theaters, Old Tucson Studios, Roadhouse Cinema and more.

Recipes and stories will be exhibited at the Center for the Arts during an “In the Heights” opening night Carnaval Del Barrio celebration on Feb. 23.

To enter, email your entry to by Feb. 20 with “In the Heights” contest in the subject line.

-By Robyn Zelickson


Gallery director receives award nomination

David Andres, the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery director and an adjunct instructor, has been nominated for a 2017 Governor’s Arts Award. Finalists for the prestigious award will be announced on Feb. 20, and honorees will be named May 4.

Nominees come from 20 Arizona arts communities, 17 of which are in Tucson.

For further information, visit

 -By Robyn Zelickson


Dancers show off beautiful moves

Dancers show off beautiful moves


Afternoon sun pours into the Pima Community College dance studio, reflecting off a wall of mirrors. Music flows through the air and dancers move gracefully to its rhythm.

Dance instructor Nolan Kubota sits quietly on a chair in the corner of the studio, studying the scene as choreographer Kyle Reza works with PCC Dance Ensemble dancers preparing a piece for “Signature Selections 2016.”

“These are the most talented dancers,” Kubota said. “I’m excited about a jazz piece where the dancers eat chips. They have to remember to chew in rhythm.”

The dancers will perform at the West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre on Dec. 9-10 with concerts Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8-$10, or $5 for students with ID.

Student Christina Palermo couldn’t fully participate in the rehearsal because she has tendonitis in her ankles.

“I can’t relevé,” Palermo said. “That’s a movement where the dancer rises on the tips of the toes.”

Taljah Blue can relate. She broke her foot two years ago, an indication that dance injuries are commonplace.

“People don’t understand that dancers are athletes like football players,” Reza said. “They have the same limited career. By the time they get to a certain age, their bodies can’t take the punishment anymore.”

“But it’s all worth it,” student Hailee Kayfes said.

Blue and Palermo agree.

Dance is their life, their passion and the way they stay balanced. It’s therapeutic to express emotions rather than bottling them up.

Blue said she wouldn’t be where she is today without dance and the close bonds she has developed with other dancers.

Kubota has been teaching at PCC since 2011 and has danced for 28 years. He uses all styles of dance in his teaching and choreography: ballet, modern, jazz and even go-go and burlesque.

Newly crowned as Mr. Tucson Entertainer of the Year, Kubota obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of California-Irvine. After graduating, he worked at Disneyland by day and as a club go-go dancer at night.

Before moving to Tucson to attend graduate school, he spent several years as a soloist with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The company performs classical ballet, but with humor

“I was the joke dancer,” Kubota said. “You perform the same joke over and over again every night. To you, it’s not funny anymore but you have to keep it fresh for the audience.”

His passion these days is burlesque, which he describes as a truly American dance form that grew out of vaudeville.

He also works with co-director Karenne Koo at Arts for All, a nonprofit that teaches dance to people with mixed abilities.

Arts for All’s Adult Dance Ensemble will collaborate with PCC’s Dance Ensemble for the “Signature Selections” concert. Arts for All will perform two pieces on Friday night and at the Saturday afternoon presentation.

In the first piece, 10 Arts for All dancers will present a modern piece called “Silence” to the music of Disturbed’s version of “Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon.

The second piece will showcase the collaboration of both ensembles. Six PCC dancers will join with Arts for All’s troupe to dance a structured improvisation piece called “Just a Little Hello.”

“Signature Selections” will allow the dancers to share their creativity and emotions with each other and with the audience.

“We are all really thrilled to have this opportunity to collaborate,” Koo said.

For further information, call the box office at 206-6986, visit or email


“Signature Selections 2016”

Where: CFA Proscenium Theatre, West Campus

When: Dec. 9-10, Fri-Sat at 7:30 p.m., Sat at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $8-$10, $5 with student ID

Box office: 206-6986


Pima Community College ensemble dancers rehearse for the Dec. 9-10 concerts. (Photo by Carol Carder)





Northwest Campus hosts ‘ugly sweater’ party

All Pima Community College students are invited to attend an ugly sweater party at Northwest Campus on Dec. 8 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Student Life Center.

The party will honor students and staff who have been a part of Student Life this semester.

For more information, call the Student Life Center at 206-2121.

-By Brittney Young


‘Show Tell Give’ event spotlights storytelling

Downtown Campus will host its annual “Show Tell Give” event Dec. 8 from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Writing Center, LB-140.

Instructor Molly McCloy will oversee a storytelling contest with a “holiday disaster” theme. Students will also read short stories and essays, and participate in a book drive to benefit Casa de Los Niños and Old Pueblo Children’s Home. Student Life will provide refreshments.

For more information, call Josie Milliken at 206-7156.

-By Casey Muse Jr.


PTK chapter works to help ‘Woman Warriors’

The Alpha Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honors in Action will help homeless female veterans with a “Woman Warriors” event on Dec. 21 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Downtown Campus.

Students have worked with community agencies to provide food, entertainment, female hygiene products, clothing and haircuts.

“There are a lot of services for male vets but you very rarely hear of any for our female veterans,” event chair Karen Kuciver said. “There are quite a few females out there. We just wanted to reach out to them.”

The Pima chapter began its “Woman Warriors” project as a part of Phi Theta Kappa Honors in Action’s program called “How the World Works: Global Perspectives.” The program offers eight themes, and chapters can choose any theme to build a project around.

The chapter created a presentation on post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness of veterans. Kuciver said many veterans fall through the cracks in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system and become homeless through substance abuse and mental illness.

Often, injured vets are over-medicated and many get addicted to the medications, Kuciver said. If they aren’t treated correctly, many start self-medicating with alcohol and heroin. This becomes a downward spiral in which vets can’t hold a job and become homeless.

Female veterans suffer the same issues. The Pima chapter sponsors a woman through Project Action for Veterans, which houses homeless veterans.

Kuciver said the woman was a medic in the Army. The veteran has severe depression and anxiety, and just got off the streets with her two boys.

VA agencies participating in the “Woman Warriors” project provide counseling, employment, housing, health and transitioning services.

They include Project Action for Veterans, Tucson Vet Center, Women’s Health Clinic, Tucson VA Transition Program and Homeless Employment.

For additional information, contact Honors in Action chair Alliyah Graham at 730-2107 or event chair Karen Kuciver at (928) 322-2444.

-By Robyn Zelickson


Mexico awards PCC scholarships funds

A Mexican agency has given Pima Community College $80,000 to fund scholarships for immigrants and Americans of Mexicans origin. 

Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, presented the award during a ceremony at the Mexican Consulate in Tucson.

The funds come from the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Institute for Mexicans Abroad.

The award marks the third scholarship grant PCC has received from IME since November 2014, for a total of $260,000.

-By Maria Angulo


Social services students aid single-parent families

Social services students in PCC’s community organization and development class sponsored an event Dec. 4 for single-parent families.

The students provided free food, games, jumping castles and other entertainment activities. They also gave holidays stocking to each child attending.

Participating social services organizations educated families about available Tucson resources.

Students spent weeks securing donations from local businesses and community members.

-By Francisco Zapata


Unscrewed Theater lets actors cut loose

Unscrewed Theater lets actors cut loose


They say laughter is the best medicine. One of the best places in Tucson to find family-friendly laughter is at “Unscrewed Theater,” 3244 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $5, so the cost is minimal and the laughs plentiful.

Unscrewed Theater does short-form improv comedy and, yes, there is long-form improv comedy as well. When thinking of improv, we typically think of comedians like Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and the late, great Robin Williams.

The theater’s executive director, Chris Seidman, moved to Tucson in 2004. His bio on the Unscrewed Theater website identifies his previous occupation as a Disneyland Jungle Cruise captain, which seems like a punchline in itself.

The nonprofit theater is run 100 percent by volunteers, from ticket-takers to performers. The main house team, which is called Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed or NBOJU, has performed every weekend in various locations in Tucson since 2002.

“There are so many different people in the organization with so many different jobs,” Seidman said. “We have teachers, a couple of engineers at Raytheon. We have an astrophysicist. One of our people is at the University of Arizona in the theater department.”

The diverse group has one thing in common – a love of improv.

NBOJU is comprised of 22 members who rehearse once a week, running sample games and scenes in order to stay comfortable with each other, to build chemistry and to keep their skills sharp.

Each show is comprised of six improvisers and a “host.” The host designs the line-up of games and notifies the cast the night of the show which games will be played. If you’ve seen the TV show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” you have an idea of what to expect.

Unscrewed Theater opened its current location on Speedway Boulevard in January 2014. Having a permanent location has allowed the troupe to build a following that doesn’t have to search out where they are performing each weekend.

Troupe members also teach classes in improv.

The classes run for eight weeks at a cost of $150 per session. The fee includes an optional student showcase at the end of the session. If you pay in full when you sign up, you get a free T-shirt.

The current class will present its showcase in early December. The next session starts Jan. 4.

Class participants don’t have to perform if they choose not to do so. Learning the principles of improv is still valuable not only in everyday life, but in business and personal relationships, Seidman said.

“It gives you the confidence to know that if you don’t have anything to say, you can trust in the fact that you will have something to say,” he said. “Basically what we’re doing from the minute we wake up in the morning is improv, because life is unscripted.”

He notes it’s important in relationships to really listen and focus on what the other person is saying, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. In improv, your partner might say something unexpected, so you learn to listen and be present.

“Besides all that, our improv classes are really fun,” he added. “If you have the kind of job or a life where you could just really use a couple of hours every week to be goofy, our classes are great for that as well.”

Opportunities exist to blow off steam and be silly in a safe environment. There’s an Improv 101 class for beginners and an Improv 201 class for more advanced students.

Casey Sullivan, a musical improviser who is part of a house troupe called “From the Top,” is taking the Improv 201 class this session. She enrolled in the class after receiving encouragement from another improviser.

The most difficult aspect of improv is when, as a performer, you get ‘stuck in your head’ and can’t create a character or just go with the flow of the scene, she said.

The challenge and the rewards are all worthwhile though, she added.

“I’ve learned that it’s OK to let go of who you are and become someone else,” Sullivan said. “The trust and friendship that grows from the support of your partners brings so much joy.”

Unscrewed Theater occasionally brings in improv specialists to conduct workshops. In the past, they’ve had David Razowsky, who has worked since the ‘90s with Second City in Chicago and Los Angeles.

The troupe is currently looking forward to a workshop with Laura Hall from “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

Hall, who plays piano and specializes in music improv, has worked with Second City and is a published author. She developed improv karaoke and recorded tracks for improvisers who don’t have a musician.

For more information on Unscrewed Theater, visit or

Best of all, treat yourself to an evening of the best medicine you can find in Tucson.


Unscrewed Theater

Address: 3244 E. Speedway Blvd.

Phone: 289-8076

Tickets: $5


Improv entertainers with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, the main team for Unscrewed Theater, cut loose. NBOJU performs every weekend in various locations around Tucson.

Improv entertainers with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, the main team for Unscrewed Theater, cut loose. NBOJU performs every weekend in various locations around Tucson.

Four end-of-semester music concerts on tap

Four end-of-semester music concerts on tap

 Compiled by Robyn Zelickson

Pima Community College will stage four musical concerts Nov. 29-Dec. 4 in the West Campus Center for the Arts. Each performing group will present its final concert of the semester.

Tickets for each concert cost $6, with discounts available for students, seniors, military, PCC employees and groups of 10 or more.

For further information, call the box office at 206-6986, email or visit

Jazz Ensemble: Nov. 29

Director Mike Kuhn leads the PCC Jazz Ensemble in its winter concert on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre.

The program will spotlight the 1935-45 swing era and feature pieces by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton. Some modern jazz standards will also be included.

A highlight of the evening will be first trombonist Roger Wallace performing an arrangement of “Invitation.”

Wind Ensemble: Dec. 1

The PCC Wind Ensemble’s winter concert, directed by Mark Nelson, will take place on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre.

Selections include a diverse mix of music, both old and new. One highlight will be John Williams’ “Harry Potter Symphonic Suite” as a tribute to the new Harry Potter movie.

Woodwind, brass and percussion ensembles will perform a variety of numbers and the evening will conclude with Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”

Chorale and College Singers: Dec. 2

The PCC Chorale and College Singers, under the direction of Jonathan Ng, will celebrate the semester’s end with a selection of popular and holiday choral works on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre.

The Chorale is a larger chorus and the College Singers are a more select a capella choir. Both groups will perform a variety of selections.

The evening will conclude with the two groups combining, accompanied by Susan Simpson on piano and Tony Martin on percussion.

A highlight will be “When the Saints Go Marching In,” arranged by John Rutter. Ivan D. Duran will perform a clarinet solo.

PCC Orchestra: Dec. 4

PCC Orchestra, directed by Alexander Tentser, will perform works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. in the West Campus Proscenium Theatre.

At the conclusion of the program, the orchestra will perform a series of “Harry Potter” themes composed by John Williams.

The orchestra’s mission is to provide education about classical and other orchestral styles. The group is made up of high school and college students along with community adults.


POLICE BEAT: 88-CRIME offers reward for clues in murder case

POLICE BEAT: 88-CRIME offers reward for clues in murder case

In the early evening of Oct. 13, 2015, four masked gunmen entered a home in the 1400 block of East Grant Road, near Mountain Avenue. They threatened the home’s residents, assaulting two and shooting the third multiple times.

Emergency medical respondents were unable to revive the shooting victim. He was later identified as 20-year-old Zachary Alexander Corbut.

Tucson police detectives believe the home invasion was targeted and that drugs were involved. There are no leads to the assailants’ identity.

A reward of $2,500 was offered by 88-CRIME, Inc. An anonymous donor has contributed another $10,000 for any information given to 88-CRIME that leads to the arrest of those responsible.

At the time of his death, Corbut was attending the University of Arizona. He previously attended Pima Community College, studying general business.

According to his obituary, Corbut enjoyed sports such as basketball, baseball and football. He loved to snowboard and fish, and especially loved to hunt in Texas and Mexico.

His family has been devastated and his mother is desperate to find the people responsible.

“After more than a year, the pain and loss is unimaginable – it remains present every day with those of us that loved Zach,” Ann Corbut said in a telephone interview from her Houston home.

Ann Corbut plans to come to Tucson in mid-December to put up fliers at area Walgreens and other locations near her son’s former home. She will work with Homicide Survivors Inc. in the search for clues.

She believes someone has information that will assist police in finding the people who murdered her son, and thinks the culprits pose a danger to the community.

“They’ll do it again,” she said. “As violent as this was, these people will do this again, if they haven’t already.”

Anyone who calls 88-CRIME with information is eligible for the reward. All callers remain anonymous.

Ways to contact the organization include:

  • Call (520) 882-7463 (collect calls accepted)
  • Text 274637, enter “tip259” and then your text message
  • Go online to

Volunteers willing to help post fliers in December may contact Homicide Survivors at 207-5012.

Zach Corbut died in a 2015 home invasion.

Zach Corbut died in a 2015 home invasion. Photo Courtesy of Ann Corbut

'DRACULA' - Vampire re-awakens in student production at Black Box Theatre

‘DRACULA’ – Vampire re-awakens in student production at Black Box Theatre

Daniel Hagberg (Van Helsing), Chris Dobson (Dracula), Michaela Ivey (Lucy Seward). Photo by Carol Carder


 Some 630,000 people visit Bran Castle in Romania each year. The inspiration for Dracula’s castle can be rented for a wedding, a soiree or a corporate event.

 One lucky couple, winners of a promotion by Airbnb, slept in the castle this Halloween. After a meal of chicken paprikash, they were treated to a night of slumber in red velvet-trimmed coffins, as in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.”

If that prospect seems too spooky but you still want to enjoy the vampire legend, you can attend Pima Community College Theatre Arts’ presentation of “Dracula.”

Performances at the PCC Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre on West Campus will run Nov. 10-20. Thursday to Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $18, with discounts available

American Sign Language interpreters will be available Nov. 17.

Director Nancy Davis Booth has assembled a small cast of experienced student actors to bring to life Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston’s adaptations of Stoker’s novel.

Stoker was inspired by the tales of the cruel prince Vlad the Impaler, who ruled Wallachia, Romania, in the 15th century.

Stoker attempted to create a play from the novel in 1897, but was unsuccessful. In the 1920s, Deane searched for a playwright to adapt the novel and ultimately decided to write it himself. Balderston revised Deane’s adaptation in 1927 for the American production of “Dracula.”

Deane played the role of Van Helsing when the play opened in Derby, United Kingdom, in 1924. He had intended to play the role of Dracula but Raymond Huntley was cast to portray the Count.

When Balderston’s adaptation debuted on Broadway in 1927, the role fell to an unknown Hungarian actor named Béla Lugosi.

Booth said her actors share a dedication to the process and to each other.

“These actors support each other beautifully,” she said. “Some of them work full time or take three buses to get here. But the relationships between them give them the love and trust that they share. They’re like a family.”

Booth has directed four plays (“Inherit the Wind,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Laramie Project” and “A Piece of My Heart”) and three musicals (“Curtains,” “All Shook Up” and “Fiddler on the Roof”) for PCC.

She was presented the “Outstanding Educational Award” by West Campus Student Life for her work on both “The Laramie Project” and “A Piece of My Heart.”

For the last several seasons, she has worked in other arenas and was unavailable to direct PCC productions. Booth calls “Dracula” the perfect vehicle for her return.

The production is being performed in the Black Box Theatre, which seats the audience on opposite sides of the stage. Todd Poelstra has designed a Gothic and Art Nouveau set, the centerpiece of which is a Fibonacci spiral pattern on the floor.

Special effects include video, fog and surround-sound provided by eight speakers. A steampunk look gives the story a dark edge, transforms the space and brings the audience along on a journey with the characters.

“With all of these innovative special effects, we are exploring new ways to control fundamental energy,” Poelstra said.

The special effects provide an interesting learning process for the actors and crew. The sound and lighting must all be perfected at rehearsals in the same way as the acting.

“The process is what it’s about,” Booth said. “If you have a good process, you’ll have a good product.”

For ticket information, call the box office at 206-6986 or email


Miss Wells, maid: Beverly Ihli

Jonathan Harker: Rafael Acuña

Dr. Seward: Emily Fuchs

Abraham Van Helsing: Daniel Hagberg

R.M. Renfield: Cole Potwardowski

Butterworth: Daniel Burton

Lucy Seward: Michaela Ivey

Count Dracula: Christopher Dobson




Where: Black Box Theatre, West Campus Center for the Arts

When: Nov. 10-20

Tickets: $18, with discounts available

Box office: 206-6986

Arts Briefs

Arts Briefs

East Campus to unveil seven new sculptures

East Campus will host a Sculpture-on-Campus installation reception on Oct. 20 from 2-4 p.m. in the Courtyard. The event is free and open to the public.

Seven sculptures will be added to other works that have been installed since 2004. The new artwork will feature creations by artists Kevin Caron, Barbara Jo McLaughlin, Hector Ortega, Brain Painter, Andrew Turley and Joan Waters.

Attendees can meet the artists, take tours to see all campus sculptures and enjoy refreshments.

For more information, contact 206-7619.

 -By Francisco Zapata


Chorale, College Singers plan concert Oct. 23

The Chorale and College Singers will perform a fall concert on Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. in the

West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.

Music instructor Jonathan Ng directs both mixed-voice singing groups. The Chorale is a larger chorus and the College Singers are a more select a capella choir.

The Chorale program will include:

  • “Barbara Allen” by Linda Spevacek
  • “Locus iste” by Anton Bruckner
  • Three choruses from “Le nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”) by W.A. Mozart
  • “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera” (arranged by Ed Lojeski)
  • “This Little Light of Mine” spiritual (arranged by Mark Hayes)

The College Singers will perform:

  • “Ach, Weh des Leiden” and “Tanzen und springen” by Hans Leo Hassler
  • “The Boatman’s Dance” by Aaron Copland
  • “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi
  • “I Want God’s Heaven to be Mine” spiritual (arranged by Betty Jackson King)
  • “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” (arranged by Bob Chilcott, former member of King’s Singers)

The evening will conclude with both groups performing together, accompanied on piano by Susan Simpson and on percussion by Tony Martin.

Their selections will feature:

  • “Vive L’Amour” male chorus (arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw)
  • “Polly-Wolly-Doodle” choral scherzo (arranged by Gail Kubik)
  • “Geographical Fugue” by Ernst Toch
  • “Thanks Be To God” from “Elijah” by Felix Mendelssohn

Tickets are $6, with discounts available for students, seniors, military, PCC employees and groups.

For more information, call the box office at 206-6986 or email

-By Robyn Zelickson