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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

New Arizona theater company inspires audiences to think about universal human rights issues

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A Tucson human rights lawyer saw a need to create a conversation about issues within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tucson’s newest theater company Teatro Dignidad produces plays about matters of human rights to open dialogue. When Stage Director [of this specific production] Barclay Goldsmith was introduced to the play he felt that it was “begging” to be put on. “This play found us,” Goldsmith said. He then came to the local human rights lawyer, who was once his student, with the one-woman one-act play Digna, which tells the story of the famous Mexican human rights lawyer in a lecture setting. “The role of Digna Ochoa spoke to me on a personal level, and it’s the reason I studied law,” Alba Jaramillo, Teatro Dignidad’s company chair, director, and lead actor said. “So, when I saw this play about a...

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Why late Edith Head’s doppelgänger will never leave Tucson

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Each Thanksgiving Day, one of Arizona’s “48 Most Intriguing Women” becomes a clown. But when it comes to her career, the 5-foot Tucsonan is anything but clownish. Susan Claassen’s energy, style and taste makes her an all-around class act. She not only runs Tucson’s Invisible Theatre, but she acts, writes and directs. “She’s not afraid of big projects,” said Molly McKasson, Claassen’s lifelong friend. “She’s willing and able to take on all of the work.” Claassen’s surreal physical resemblance to late Hollywood designer Edith Head changed her acting career forever. Years ago, she did a double take while watching a television biography of Head and knew there was a story to be told. In 2002, her one-woman show A Conversation With Edith Head was born and has been running ever since — earning her an Ovation Nomination, the Los...

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Rural community theater’s across Arizona struggle to survive

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In a world with limited arts funding, community theaters across the state of Arizona struggle to sustain themselves. According to Arizona Commission on the Arts, in rural areas only 52 percent of students have access to arts education programs in their school. The value community theaters bring to students and schools is being completely diminished due to lack of funding. Over 20 nonprofit community theaters in Arizona look to Arizona Commission on the Arts, which is funded in part by National Endowment for the Arts, to help fund their programs. The agency released $2,354,500 in grants for fiscal year 2018. In 2013, Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Department of Education conducted an arts education census that revealed that out of the 2,261 schools in Arizona, only 91 offer theater. That is only 4.9 percent. “Fortunately, we haven’t...

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