Zoo, Arts & Parks Blog
Ingredients for a Thanksgiving Dinner
A whole lot of turkey
33 pints cranberry sauce
134 quarts mashed potatoes
60 quarts homestyle gravy
At least three different kinds of pie
4 rows of tables and handmade decorations
1 basketball court
than your average recreation center, Central City has been serving up resources, fitness opportunities, youth programs, and community connection since it opened 50 years ago on the corner of 600 South and 300 East in downtown Salt Lake. For
nearly half of that time, those servings have included a free turkey dinner on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
The neighborhood tradition has seen a lot of changes over the years, initially starting as part of an open rec program, where youth would put on the dinner for their families. “We no longer have the open rec program, but it’s cool to see the event continue
with Utah Valley University. It means a lot to the families that come back every year,” said Darian Abegglen, Associate Director of Recreation.
Central City has since developed a partnership with UVU Culinary Art Institute, and the dinner has since become a holiday treat for the neighborhood. The culinary students both prepare and serve the meal, getting a chance to share their new skills with
the community and witness the resulting smiles from their pumpkin pie, turkey, and all the fixings.
It’s an evolution on a spirit of service that allows for more connection and full stomachs during the holidays, and who couldn’t use a little more of that these days?
Central City Recreation Center is supported in part by Salt Lake County residents like you through Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks. For more information on recreation centers and community events with Salt Lake County Parks & Recreation, visit recreation.slco.org.
Plan-B Theatre brings Good Standing to life on stage, a love letter to uncertainty and complicated faith
UPDATE: Plan-B has announced there are only 90 tickets remaining in Good Standing's run. Tickets can be purchased through planbtheatre.org.
By Matthew Greene
It’s possible that if I hadn’t spent so many years in the proverbial closet I never would’ve become a writer. It’s the oldest story in the book, isn’t it? Creativity born out of private pain. I spent my days playing the perfect Mormon, slipping that ill-fitting
costume on over the self I’d learned to loathe and trying my best to walk a path that was, frankly, killing me. My solace in those dark days was the pen and the page. In the fictional worlds I crafted, nothing could stop me from exploring the tantalizing
gray areas and questioning tenets of belief that were supposed to be taken as gospel.
The heady, emotional conflict taking place between these two characters onstage was just a reflection of the debate running constantly through my own confused, closeted head
day and night.
I was an undergrad at Brigham Young University (that’s right, Mormon Mecca) when Proposition 8 rocked California and, in turn, the world. Desperate to make sense of the divisive and disturbing rhetoric I heard every day, I wrote a play called ADAM & STEVE
AND THE EMPTY SEA, exploring what the gay marriage debate did to two friends, one openly gay and the other openly Mormon. After nearly getting me kicked out of school, the play received its world premiere at Plan-B Theatre in 2013. People were quick
to identify Adam, the devout church member, as my onstage stand-in, but who, they all seemed to ask me, was the inspiration for Steve, his gay best friend who wanted simply the freedom to love? I capitulated and talked around the question, not wanting
to reveal the truth: the heady, emotional conflict taking place between these two characters onstage was just a reflection of the debate running constantly through my own confused, closeted head day and night.
Years have passed since then, and I’ve changed the narrative quite a bit. I’m now an out-and-proud gay man who made the choice, in a moment of crisis, to love himself no matter what. I worried, though, as I crawled out from under the weight of religious
expectation, if I’d lose the drive to write now that I felt so liberated, so unburdened. It turns out, once again, that I was naive. Taking a step (or two or three) toward authenticity didn’t make the world any less complicated. Allowing myself to
truly fall in love (surprise surprise) led to more emotional tumult than I’d ever imagined. And stating emphatically all the things I didn’t believe in could only go so far in helping to make sense of this murky mess of a world.
There's no way to untangle the threads of identity that have made me who I am...
The truth is, life is tricky even after you’ve gone through a “personal renaissance” and my new play GOOD
STANDING is proof of that. But unlike ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA, I’ll own up to the true inspiration behind the script’s central figure: it’s me. The man onstage torn between love and belief was born out of the internal debates I’m still having.
There’s no way to untangle the threads of identity that have made me who I am and I’ve got Mormonism practically woven into my DNA. I treasure the new life I’ve crafted for myself, but I mourn the loss of innocence I knew within comfy church walls
and regret the pain I’ve caused to those who love me.
Life didn’t magically become easier when I finally admitted that I, like Curtis in this play, dreamed of finding a husband, not a wife. What’s different, I guess, is an enhanced ability to feel joy and to claim it as my own. But the search continues:
the search for meaning and for purpose and for the light I know is out there. GOOD STANDING is another step in that ongoing journey, a love letter to uncertainty and to complicated, problematic faith.
Playwright Matthew Greene premiered his play
ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA at Plan-B Theatre Company in 2013; it then
played the New York International Fringe Festival. His latest, GOOD STANDING,
opens Plan-B’s 2018/19 season October 18-28 and will also play the United Solo
theatre festival in New York. Tickets and details at planbtheatre.org
Plan-B World Premieres ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, a Create-Your-Own-Adventure-play
by 11-year-old Oliver Kokai-Means
IS THIS THE SAME ONE?!
My name is Oliver. I am a kid who likes soccer, who likes sports, and who likes and is really good at reading, and video games, and is not what some people would say normal is. Because I have anxiety.
My anxiety has caused problems for me because I don’t like being with people I don’t know, so first days are extra hard for me. It has also caused me problems with teachers who don’t understand, and with making friends.
Our play ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is about a pig named Pig and a nine-year-old kid named Sam who has anxiety [I was nine when we started writing the play]. They are in a video game and they go on an adventure with different levels and try to beat them, but they
have a hard time and they fail most of the time. They try and work on it and then they finally beat a level and then they have to fight The Machine. They technically beat The Machine but it doesn’t go away because you can’t beat anxiety. The audience
gets to make a lot of choices in the play, like they’re the ones playing the video game. I identify with Sam.
One of the things that happens in anxiety is you get scared of all this stuff, and some of the stuff that you’re scared of doesn’t even exist. Zombie Thoughts are where you do something but you don’t think about it first. You just do it. Like, one of
the things about anxiety is you don’t stop and think about what you’re scared of. You don’t stop and say, wait, zombies aren’t real.
I learned about Zombie Thoughts from my old therapist, Gennie. Every week I would see her and talk about stuff involving this topic and, based on what she knows, she would give me some ideas and I would try them and if they worked I would tell her and
continue them and if they didn’t, I would tell her and we wouldn’t use them. In the play, Pig teaches Sam some of the things I’ve learned. You shouldn’t get mad at people. If someone suggests something that scares you, you shouldn’t get mad at them,
you should say, “I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”
I refused to go on Space Mountain and threw a fit. But when I actually thought about it and went on it, I loved it and now it’s one of my favorite rides.
To write the play my Mom and I had a lot of conversations about what could go in it. Then we decided to make it like a video game. There aren’t that many choose-your-own adventure plays, so I like that, and I really like video games. I gave my Mom the
ideas and the characters and she wrote the words.
I like how the play goes right to the topic and doesn’t kind of talk around it. It doesn’t have an end really. That’s what some people wanted, but it doesn’t really make sense because of what the play is trying to convey. It has kind of a happy ending,
but it doesn’t use sweet words and avoid the topic it’s trying to talk about. Adults will talk about anxiety and things like that, but they’ll kind of talk around what it is and they’ll use words that make it sound like this cute little thing and
not a big issue that you should worry about.
I hope that kids who see the play understand that those people with anxiety aren’t just scared, they’re scared in a way they can’t help, and you shouldn’t make fun of these people for being scared because they can’t help it. I also hope that if they have
things they’re scared about, the ideas in the play help them learn how to feel better.
ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, co-written by Jennifer A. Kokai and her
son Oliver Kokai-Means, receives its world premiere as Plan-B’s sixth annual
Free Elementary School Tour, serving 8,000 elementary students, grades K-6, at
46 schools in 12 counties beginning October 1. Public performances October 8
(Weber State University, $5) and October 13 & 25 (Salt Lake City Public
Library branches, free). Details at planbtheatre.org.
Congratulations to the 2018 ZAP Tier II Grant Recipients!
On August 28, 2018, Salt Lake County Council unanimously approved $2.2 million of funding recommended by Salt Lake County’s ZAP Tier II Advisory Board for local arts and cultural nonprofits. The nonprofit grant recipients represent a wide range of disciplines, including community symphonies, historical museums, dance companies, visual arts programs, theatre companies, art and ethnic festivals, natural history organizations, folk arts groups, botanical gardens, and more. Recipient organizations span every district in the County.
$2.2 million in approved grant funding
for the 2018 funding cycle is split between 183 organizations. 20 of these
organizations are brand new to ZAP this year. This 7% increase in applicants
beats out 2017 as the highest number to date, meaning the ZAP program is
providing more support to growing arts and cultural organizations each year
thanks to tax payer support.
year’s applications from ZAP grantees show these dollars being put to
incredible use. “With ZAP funding we serve people who primarily are not served
by other performing arts projects. Heart & Soul brings over 900 live
concerts each year to Salt Lake County residents.” said Janna Lauer of Heart
& Soul, a Salt Lake County nonprofit that brings live local music and
performances to disadvantaged, marginalized, and isolated individuals. These performances
represent a small (but vital) fraction of county residents reached through ZAP
from the remarkable range of work include:
- 18,433 events provided (a 34% increase from last year)
- 2.9 million attendees/participants
- 1.7 million free admissions to events and programs
- 35% increase in full and part-time jobs provided (1479 to 2009
- 46,683 contracted positions, from artists to photographers to
scientists and more
- 30,426 volunteers
For many arts and cultural organizations, ZAP funding represents
integral community support for their organizations. “ZAP provides critical
funding to…encourage residents to engage with their neighbors through art
events.” shared Sheryl Gillian, executive director of the Holladay Arts
Council. Their Recent Crossing Paths
project by local artist Jim McGee pulled residents from all over Holladay to
their City Hall during its month-long showcase.
Over 400 hours were spent by the ZAP Tier II Advisory Board in
carefully reviewing applications, plus another 30 hours discussing, scoring,
and determining funding amounts. $3.4 million was requested by 187 total
applicants, and through this diligent review process the Advisory Board
determined the $2.2 million in funding approved by County Council on Tuesday.
With funding recommendations now approved, the 2018 Tier II application process is now complete. Organizations funded in Tier II can expect to receive funding in two installments in January and May of 2019.
Applications for 2019 will open in January.
Want to learn more?
1. View acomplete list of funded organizations.
2. Learn more abouthow to apply for ZAP funds.
BREAKING NEWS: the theme for the 7th Annual ROSE EXPOSED is … wait for it … BREAKING NEWS!
Roland and Kary Billings from Gina Bachauer
During the hour-long program on Saturday evening, August 25th, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, newly-created short works illuminating the nature of Breaking News in our present-day world will be performed by resident companies Plan-B Theatre,
PYGmalion Theatre Company, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, and SB Dance. Repertory Dance Theatre will weave the pieces together with dance interludes, all accompanied by live performances of pianist Josh Wright, representing Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation.
ROSE EXPOSED was launched initially to spotlight the art performed at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (also known as “The Rose”) and also to raise the profile of this under-appreciated venue to something beyond “the building across the street
from Squatters.” We six resident companies happily co-resided within the facility for years. Creating this now-annual event together has taken us from neighbors to collaborators, and is a welcome opportunity to share and explore each other’s distinctive artistic personalities.
It is a joyous thing to collaborate on a “one night only” performance, bringing to light what Stephen Brown of SB dance calls “the richest part of the local cultural ecosystem.” The synergy of making cooperative performance art has proved energizing to the
performers and creators and has delighted audience members for the past six years on the last Saturday in August.
Initially, the event was a day-long festival culminating in a variety show featuring each company in a ten-minute performance created that day. An early afternoon child-friendly program was also a feature the first two years. For example, a collaboration
between Plan-B and The Bachauer, brought forth an interactive theater piece telling the story of “Peter and the Wolf,” which was subsequently performed in more than 25 elementary schools.
From 2014-2016, we made a more direct impact by donating the evening’s proceeds to a community-based organization from whose work we could draw inspiration. The Road Home was the recipient of the 2014 gift, and the partnership influenced the art with each
company creating a piece based on the theme of “Home.”
In 2015 Art Access shaped the “Dreamers” theme, and in 2016 a partnership with the Tracy Aviary inspired works that took “Flight.”
In 2017, we introduced a connective through-line, with Chicken Little and Turkey Lurkey moving from piece to piece frantically and repeatedly telling each other and everyone else that “The Sky is Falling!”
In 2018, ROSE EXPOSED will again employ a through-line, with dance, theatre, and live piano music working together to bring you BREAKING NEWS, highlighting the immediacy and urgency that the world around us seems to demand.
Don’t miss opening night on August 25. In our high-paced world, opening night and closing night are one and the same!
Tickets are $15 at