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October 13, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Arizona Theatre Company

  |   Video
  • ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein discusses the Company’s original play, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, that makes its Phoenix premiere this week.
  • David Ira Goldstein - ATC Artistic Director
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, theatre, company, holmes,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: On tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat," "Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club." It's an original play commissioned by the Arizona Theater and runs until the end of the month at the Herberger Theatre in Phoenix. Here to tell us what goes into staging an original play is David Ira Goldstein, he's the Arizona fee they're -- Theater Company’s artistic director. Thanks for joining us.

David Ira Goldstein: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: What are -- a world premier. This is from bottom up.

David Ira Goldstein: From bottom up, about a year and a half ago Jeffrey Hatcher and I attend add different Sherlock Holmes plays in a different city, and at intermission we were saying, we could do a better one than this. So I said, prove it. And we commissioned him to write this play. He's a playwright we've worked with quite a bit. He's a nationally known playwright, so he wrote the play and we have gone through many drafts and here it is.

Ted Simons: Talk about the stressful nature of the rewrites and the getting the -- you're the artistic director; it's basically your baby in many respects.

David Ira Goldstein: You’ve got to be on the fly. I mean we’ve already had seven weeks of rehearsal and performances in Tucson. Now here we are in Phoenix and even today I'm putting in probably 20 pages of rewrites. So you have to have the right kind of artist whose are will to deal with that, especially actors that can deal with that on the fly.

Ted Simons: And working with designers, working with the actors, working with the whole nine yards.

David Ira Goldstein: Yeah. It's great fun. It's actually what we in the theater enjoy doing the most. When you have the playwright in the room, you really are close to the center of what theater is, which are plays, and words, and literature, and to get close to that and be in on the new play is always the most exciting.

Ted Simons: And if it's a hit, if it succeeds and other theater companies say I'm interested, I want to play too, your job, what happens next?

David Ira Goldstein: Sometimes the plays are very successful. We did a Sherlock Holmes play in 2004 by Steven Deets, it's now had over a thousand productions around the world. Jeffrey's "Jekyl and Hyde" was done in Czechoslovakia. It's great to put something into the world and we get a little money back, so that's -- as a nonprofit that's also a great way to earn a little extra money to do work here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Logistically, you must be a busy man.

David Ira Goldstein: Well, I spend a lot of time on I-10, let's put it that way.

Ted Simons: Phoenix and -- is ATC the only theater company?

David Ira Goldstein: We're the only legion of regional theaters, the 86 major that terse around the country. We're in that group. We're the only one that is statewide and performs in two cities. We actually have subscribers from every county in Arizona. We do education programs in every county in Arizona. So it's a lot of time on the road, but we love it. At least it's a beautiful state with straight roads.

Ted Simons: And you obviously like -- you've been here -- this is your 20th anniversary?

David Ira Goldstein: 20 seasons.

Ted Simons: Did you think -- 20 years ago did you see yourself doing this in 20 years?

David Ira Goldstein: No, but I fell in love with the valley, I fell in love with Arizona theater company, and our audiences, and we have of course anybody who's been to the will Herberger knows it's a top-notch, beautiful facility.

Ted Simons: Talk about the as theater company's status. When people think of thee they're do they think of Arizona?

David Ira Goldstein: We hope so. We've been getting a growing amount of national stress. There was a full-page story in the "New York Times" a few weeks ago about upcoming productions of a play called "red" and they featured our production. We have a play that's opening on Broadway next week that we did work on here; a play by Elaine may call Georgia's dad, which is opening on brad way next week at the brooks Atkinson Theater. We like to think that we bring honor to the state and our work does get out there, but by getting our name out there, what's important is then the really best theater artists in the country know about it. And they come here to work. So it's got a real advantage to us.

Ted Simons: And another advantage I would think, especially in tough economic times, it sounds like you're doing welcome paired to other groups.

David Ira Goldstein: It's a challenge this economy for every nonprofit, raising money is tough in these days. But we're holding in there. We still have about 15,000 subscribers and we have many, many generous donors. But certainly we are fighting to get through this recession like every other nonprofit.

Ted Simons: And in the nonprofit world, earned income is big.

David Ira Goldstein: About 73, 74% last year. That's really healthy. And we've always been very fortunate. Having two cities has really helped us economically. Because you only have to produce the play once, you only have to rehearse it and build those costumes and sets once, but you can sell it in two cities. So we have an advantage I think that a lot of other groups that are just in Phoenix or just in Tucson don't have.

Ted Simons: Generally speaking, can theater survive, iPads, big-screen TVs, cell phones, iPhones, and androids?

David Ira Goldstein: It's scary, but it seems to be that it's actually the opposite. That theater around the country, internationally, people are craving more of that real life true experience of being in the room with the performers. And that kind of immediate storytelling. It's really, you look at Broadway grosses are at record levels. People are paying over 400 a ticket to see the book of Mormon on Broadway. So I think theater going to do quite well. And I think what we have in our favor. They're always our news stories to tell and new people that want to tell their story.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, I'm curious as to when people knew they were go to do what think wound up doing. When did you know that theater was either in your blood or was going to be your future?

David Ira Goldstein: I think I sort of knew in high school and junior high school. I tried to kid myself and study journalism for a while and studied Russian for a while, and studied psychology, but I always find myself performing in the plays and realized that's where my heart was, where my passion lay. I'm so glad. It's been a wonderful life, and it's just allowed me to learn about so many exciting things.

Ted Simons: And for the next 20 years at Arizona Theater Company, what do you want to see? What needs to be improved, what challenges are still out there?

David Ira Goldstein: We want to be able to do an increasing variety of work, increasingly diverse work for an increasingly divorce state. And I think hopefully as go forward that's what will happen.

Ted Simons: That's a balancing act. People want to hare the war horses, not necessarily the modern experimental stuff.

David Ira Goldstein: That's where the theater has an advantage over symphony or opera. And I love both of them. I directed for Arizona opera last year. But people want -- they won't want to hear the same Stover they heard last night. In the theater they want to hear a new story. Even if it's not a world premier, everybody play on our season is a play that hasn't been done in Arizona. So I think in the theater, in the spoken language arts people want to see a new story.

Ted Simons: Good luck with Sherlock Holmes, and congratulations on 20 years and many more at ATC.

Expediting Electrical Transmission Lines

  |   Video
  • President Obama’s plan to fast-track the permitting and construction of major electrical transmission line projects - including one in Arizona - is touted as a way to create jobs; increase capacity and reliability of the nation’s electrical grid; and accelerate the growth of domestic clean energy. Find out what the plan means for Arizona from Kris Mayes, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner who is now in charge of the Program on Law and Sustainability at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and Sandy Bahr, Director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.
  • Sandy Bahr - Director, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Chapter
  • Kris Mayes - ASU professor of Law and Sustainability at the Sandra Day O'Conner College of Law, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: obama, president, electric, lines, debate,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: President Obama wants federal agencies to work together, and work faster to build electric transmission lines across the country. The goal is more jobs and more reliable electricity. But critics say that putting transmission projects on a fast track could compromise environmental safeguards. Here to tell us what they think about the plan is Kris Mayes, a former Arizona corporation commissioner who's now in charge of the program on law and sustainability at ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. And Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club. Good to see you both here.
Kris Mayes & Sandy Bahr: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us. This is a pilot program to expedite this process; this includes a transmission line across parts of Arizona. True?

Kris Mayes: Absolutely. This is an effort by the Obama administration to try to speed along the construction of new transmission that would be designed to not only bolster the reliability of our grid, but also to deliver more renewable energy across the west and the entire United States. So they've identified seven different projects, one of which is right here in Arizona, it's a project called SunZia, and they're going to assign people to ride herd on the federal agencies that are responsible for permitting these projects. And to try to speed things up a little bit.

Ted Simons: The administration says it will modernize the grid, make for more reliable power, and reduce blackouts, what's the problem here?

Sandy Bahr: Well, I think they should have been more careful about selection of the projects. This project is hugely controversial in Arizona, and expediting, if it means having the proper reviews and not setting aside important protections, that's not an issue. But we're really concerned because the proponents of this program have a history of trying to go around local people. They tried to get a special law passed at the state legislature this year to exempt them from going through the power plant and line citing committee, which is Arizona’s process for citing. And this proposed line would go through some very sensitive areas if they get the citing they want. There's the Aravaipa Canyon area, the San Pedro, many people, agricultural interests, conservation interests, the military, a broad range of people have huge concerns about this line. So I think they need to be very careful about what they're doing.

Kris Mayes: In defense of the company, I think this is an incredibly necessary transmission line, that is going to be designed to take wind from New Mexico and solar from Arizona and potentially deliver it to California. With regards to SunZia, it's my understanding it's already gone through exhaustive scoping processes and I don't think they're talking about cutting any corners. I think what they're talking about is trying to get this project and in particular those agencies that might be a little bit slow in processing the permits going a little bit. And quite frankly, if we're going to be serious about doing something about carbon in this country, reducing carbon emissions, about renewable energy and getting our renewable energy economy going, we have to have projects like this. And frankly, this is one of them.

Sandy Bahr: We disagree. There's no guarantee this line will be carrying renewable electrons, if you will. That's one of the things that have been clear, they can't do that. They can't legally do that. And so -- there's a lot of skepticism about whether a number of these lines will end up carrying traditional dirty coal and other types of resources. So there are no guarantees on that. And even if the line is necessary, there's no reason to cite it in a way that it's destructive of important areas. And in Arizona, if you’re -- the Sierra Club is very selective. We are very selective. We look at what the impacts are. This is one we've looked at carefully as have the people of southern Arizona, and it has huge issues, whether it's the Air valley, or San Pedro, those are all very important areas, and instead of looking at existing routes, they want to cut through what's really some amazing land.

Kris Mayes: And I don't think we're here just to talk about SunZia. This is an effort that's going to be nationwide. But I think you're seeing the problem, which is that every time we come up with a transmission line that's important for the state or for the country, somebody is going to object. And what we're seeing is a lot of these projects are getting bogged down inside agencies, and I think that -- it's interesting that we have a Democratic president who's making a proposal to speed up these projects and to streamline regulation. It shows you that we have a problem on our hands when a Democratic president is saying; we need to cut down on some of the regulation and speed up some of these processes.

Ted Simons: Same question, but different angle here. When is expediting the process, when does it go too fast?

Kris Mayes: Let me tell you, the process is not going too fast. I don't know too many people, who are involved with energy in this country in any respect, especially renewable energy developers who think the process is going too fast, it's going too slow if anything. I'll give you an example.

Sandy Bahr: Funding is what’s slow --

Kris Mayes: No, it's really not. Now let me complete, hang on. I'll give you a real life example. When I was an Arizona corporation commissioner we had a critical transmission line that was going to run from Tucson to Nogales that was stopped by a single United States forester, one woman, who was responsible for one forest in the state of Arizona, who said, not through my forest. And the entire state of Arizona, in fact including environmental groups had said, this is OK, but one forester stopped it. And that's what I think President Obama's certain trying to get at. To say, OK, look. If that forester has a problem, let's go talk to her. Let's have all the agencies get together and resolve these issues in a quicker manner.

Ted Simons: Same question, different angle -- when is the process too slow? When is it just -- when is it basically slow going it and hoping it all goes away?

Sandy Bahr: Well, I think that if they have done their due diligence and have given the public an opportunity to review, this transmission line is big. It crosses 460 miles. And I am going to focus on Arizona, because that's what I focus on. But it crosses 460 miles through New Mexico and Arizona, that is a lot of land. And if they would look at existing corridors, existing transportation corridors, that makes it go a lot faster. But if they're going to go across such a large area and look at some of the most amazing land, biologically diverse areas in our state, then that needs due diligence. They need environmental review and analysis; they need to give the public an opportunity --

Ted Simons: Can those particular aspects be sped up a little bit? Be expedited?

Sandy Bahr: They could be. But our concern is, considering the history of the proponents of SunZia, it will be used to cut people out. That's what they tried to do already at the state legislature.

Kris Mayes: There's no evidence --

Sandy Bahr: No, no. At the state legislature they did that.

Kris Mayes: There's no evidence that this particular project has cut any corners. It's already been through two years of scoping Sandy. So I'd --

hang on.

Sandy Bahr: So at the legislature -- if they could, but --

Kris Mayes: Hang on. Hang on. It’s already been through two years of scoping. We're nowhere near being finished with this critical transmission line, which could deliver thousands of jobs to the state of Arizona and to New Mexico. We're talking about tens of thousands of jobs that could be created through this initiative of the Obama administration to try to streamline these projects.

Sandy Bahr: Let me tell what you they did in the beginning.

Ted Simons: We got to make it quick. Last point goes to you. You’ve got to make it quick.

Sandy Bahr: They did all their scoping in the beginning primarily in New Mexico. They had one meeting in Arizona. They have given Arizona short shrift on this. Everyone needs to have a voice in it. Yes, it can go faster but it needs to protect the resources as well.

Ted Simons: We've got to stop it there. Good conversation. Thank you both for joining us.

Sandy Bahr: Thank you.

Occupy Phoenix

  |   Video
  • The “Occupy Wall Street” movement spreads to the Valley. “Occupy Phoenix” spokesperson Apollo Poetry talks about what the group hopes to accomplish.
  • Apollo Poetry - "Occupy Phoenix" spokesperson
Category: Community   |   Keywords: occupy, protest, phoenix, wall street, ,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Corporate greed, government corruption, and a financial system that favors the wealthy. Those are among the sources of anger and frustration protestors say are fueling their occupy Wall Street movement. For nearly a month, protestors have camped out in New York, but the movement is spreading across America. And on Saturday, occupy Phoenix is planning a demonstration at Caesar Chavez park in downtown Phoenix. Joining us now to talk about the event is Apollo poetry, a spokesperson for Occupy Phoenix. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Apollo Poetry: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: Why Phoenix, why now?

Apollo Poetry: I think people all around the country were watching New York, and they felt like they were tapped into the frustration but didn't know how to be a part of it, so we came with the idea to create it in our own cities. It's actually spread to over 1500 cities around the world.

Ted Simons: Have you had contact with other cities, with people in New York or other communities that have had these demonstrations?

Apollo Poetry: All the organizers are trying to e-mail each other. Every time there is some important information.
Ted Simons: Okay, so there is some sort of plan afoot?
Apollo Poetry: Yes.

Ted Simons: Okay. How are the Phoenix demonstration, protests, different from others?

Apollo Poetry: We're standing in solidarity with the others, so we're all connecting with the same message.

Ted Simons: Logistically, similar things happening? Is there a different march? A different demonstration or a ---?

Apollo Poetry: Each city is doing their own thing. This grew in only a few weeks. So each city is organizing it on their own, but we're doing it in a solidarity with each other.

Ted Simons: So who is leading this particular demonstration? Who is organizing this thing?

Apollo Poetry: We pride ourselves in being leaderless. We like it that way. And we're trying to practice what a Democratic process is supposed to be. We call ourselves organizers or facilitators rather than leaders. Facilitators don't have followers but leaders do.

Ted Simons: Who is facilitating, then? How to you figure out who is going to facilitate?

Apollo Poetry: Anybody who wants to get involved and help, this is a people's movement.

Ted Simons: How do you make sure the people involved aren't going to do bad things down at the park or in surrounding neighborhoods?

Apollo Poetry: We've done a lot of meetings, pretty much every day throughout the last few weeks. We've been contacting each other, we've done nonviolence training. We're organizing it in a way; we want it to be as peaceful as possible.

Ted Simons: When you say we, we are organizing, we are the non-violent facilitators… who is the "we"?

Apollo Poetry: Just everybody who showed up to the meeting. When we showed up we said, what skills do you have that you can bring? And then we just associate it. It's a people's movement, there isn’t a leader. I think that's why the media struggles trying to understand it.

Ted Simons: Yeah. It is -- there is a struggle, because someone's got to say we're going to do this or that, I realize there's a vote taken, but usually there are folks who move to the floor, whether it's in the '60s or even now.

Apollo Poetry: We're having a general assembly, that's what Saturday is for.

Ted Simons: OK. What do you hope to accomplish?

Apollo Poetry: Well, one of the big criticisms we always get is what is the message, what is the message? I'm sure you've heard that. One of the biggest things is really to raise awareness on the corruption that takes place in the political and monetary systems and how it influences our society. Because this is an umbrella movement we have different messages that are coming forth but the one starting to emerge is separating corporate money from government.

Ted Simons: Are you trying to influence people, are you trying to -- average folks? Are you trying to influence politicians? Or trying to influence anyone at all?

Apollo Poetry: The fact we separate regular people from politicians I think is one of the biggest issues right there. The politicians are placed there in order to represent the people, not the corporations. That's what we're trying to change. We're trying to bring the power more from the top and spread it towards the people.

Ted Simons: Until that happens, where is the message focused?

Apollo Poetry: Everyone. It really is -- we are the 99%. It really does incorporate everybody. We have democrats, we have Republicans, and we have pretty much everybody from every part of the political spectrum involved in this.

Ted Simons: What would you want to hear the president say? All after these protests are done, after a particular protest, the president decides to address this more than he has already. What do you want to hear from him?

Apollo Poetry: I don't know if I want to hear anything from him specifically. I think the solution is starting to emerge. I don't want to say what the solution is, but we need an entire restructuring of the political system and the monetary system.

Ted Simons: How would you restructure that? Any ideas?

Apollo Poetry: There are lots of ideas. I'm not going to speak my personal beliefs. That's what's going to come forward in the in the general assembly that are happening. People have to realize this just started a few weeks ago spontaneously, so that might explain some of the chaos, but it actually is organized. Everybody has a different message so as time gives on; give us more than three weeks, all the other organizations, the Tea Party and all the others, which Tea Party members will be part of occupy. This does include everybody. They had lots of time, they had months, political funding, corporate funding, and they had a long time to merge their message.

Ted Simons: It sounds as if, if there is a message, it is - we're not happy. We don't like the way things are.

Apollo Poetry: Right.

Ted Simons: So change what's going on.

Apollo Poetry: Right. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I don't think anybody is happy with the current system.

Ted Simons: If the Tea Party folks want to change it more to a conservative bent, that's got an open forum too?

Apollo Poetry: Yeah. They're allowed to express their opinion. They want less power from the government, we want less power from the corporations, but the corporation and government are in bed with each other. They influence each other big time. So our message of the court is really the same, which is how much power is on the top compared to the rest.

Ted Simons: How did you become spokesperson for this?

Apollo Poetry: I showed up for the meetings and everybody kind of said, what are your skills, and we did it in a very Democratic process.

Ted Simons: I know everything is very democratic and there's a lot of ideas and we need to give you time to formulate those ideas. I'm talking to you personally. What do you want to see? What part of the political spectrum do you come from and what do you want to hear the president, congress, anyone with any kind of authority or any way of changing things, what do you want to hear them say?

Apollo Poetry: You asked me where I come from on the political spectrum. I've been independent my whole life. Right now I'm a registered Republican. Me personally, the reason I don't want to talk about what I personally want, I'm against the federal reserve but I don't want to get too much into that because the media will take that and say this is what they're about. They're just going to point their cameras at an individual and sway this message in the direction they want. That's why as a spokesperson I'm being very careful by saying this is the answer or that's not the answer.

Ted Simons: You understand why it's difficult for others who are watching, who might be curious about this, to know what exactly -- everyone needs a hook. It sounds like the hooks aren't there quite yet.

Apollo Poetry: They're forming, that's why we want everybody to come out and express their point of views. That’s what this is really about.

Ted Simons: How many folks are you expecting?

Apollo Poetry: Thousands.

Ted Simons: Are you preparing for it?

Apollo Poetry: Yes.

Ted Simons: Give us a date and location again and when this things get started.

Apollo Poetry: Friday at 3:00 we're meeting at downtown civic space. That’s just going to be a march. And the actual Occupy Phoenix is going to be at Caesar Chavez plaza at noon on Saturday.

Ted Simons: What happens the day after? What do you think -- what do you want to happen?

Apollo Poetry: We want the occupy to continue, we want the debate to continue. We want the ideas to keep spreading and like I said, 1500 cities in a few weeks is amazing. We're very excited to see the next step.

Ted Simons: All right. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Apollo Poetry: Appreciate it.