Bill Binder: The Torch Theatre Improviser

Bill Binder, photographed at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix by Nicki Escudero

Bill Binder, photographed at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Bill Binder
twitter.com/whbinder

Bill Binder is a fixture of the downtown Phoenix arts scene — he even lived in a tree in front of The Trunk Space for a couple days. While you might see him running around town supporting local artists, he’s also responsible for helping foster longform improv in the Valley. As a founding member of The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, Binder has helped put on the Phoenix Improv Festival for the past 11 years of its existence, and he currently is an instructor with The Torch Theatre as well as one who travels around the country teaching improv, in addition to performing in festivals. Learn what brought the Detroit native to Arizona, as well as hear five reasons that are keeping him here, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here in the very beginning of 2001. I was living in Michigan at the time, and I was doing improv there. I loved the people there, but it was kind of at the limit where I could grow as an improviser, so I started looking into moving to some of the more established cities. They’re amazing, but I knew that I would be 1 of 1,000 people who were on the same path. So I looked for a place that really didn’t have any improv, where I kind of would have to fight for what I believed in and build the kind of improv that is what I wanted to do, knowing struggle would be good for me as a performer. Phoenix is one of the cities I looked at and one of the nicest, and my parents also live in Arizona so I could be close to my family. Continue reading

James Keenan: A Life of Science Musician, Spark Design Graphic Designer

James Keenan

James Keenan, photographed at Shady’s in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

James Keenan
twitter.com/jameskeenan

James Keenan may seem like a calm, laidback guy on the outside, but brimming under that friendly exterior is a whole lot of passion for the things he loves most. The 29-year-old is a graphic designer by day and a musician and writer by night, extending his professional talents into his musical world through crafting colorful and fun music videos for his band A Life of Science. He’s not just good with a computer, though — Keenan also wrote comic books for the band, too, and came up with the treatment for the band’s novel,¬†The Apneist. He also serves as art director for local label Sundawg Records and deejays as Ex-Ghost, but just because he’s busy doesn’t mean he doesn’t take a breather at Shady’s every once in awhile for a beer. See Keenan play with A Life of Science Saturday, September 29 at Martini Ranch, and keep reading to watch him list five reasons why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’ve lived here my entire life. I was born in Phoenix at St. Joe’s and raised in Phoenix and went to Shadow Mountain High School. The only time I left Phoenix was for college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Continue reading

Amy Donohue: Owner of The Fab Social, Kidney Donor, Comedian

Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue, photographed at Windsor in central Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Amy Donohue
twitter.com/thefabulousone 

You’ve probably heard of Amy Donohue if you’ve lived in the Valley the past couple years. The self-proclaimed shameless self-promoter, 41, has not only turned her passion and savvy for social media into her own business (The Fab Social), but she’s also garnered national attention for her donation of her kidney in 2011, which came about through Twitter. Donohue, who has lived in the Valley for 10 years, has also been a strong female force in the local stand-up comedy scene, as well as a radio personality on local station KWSS 106.7-FM. Read on for what brought her to the Valley and how her organ donation has changed her life — including more on her documentary that’s currently in the works — and scroll down to hear Amy tell you five reasons why she loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came here on vacation in July 2002 to visit my best friend from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in like 10 years. I was here during a monsoon, and I was like, ‘This is the greatest thing ever.’ I was living in upstate New York at the time in Saranac Lake, 5 hours north of New York City. I thought Phoenix was just sand and cactus. I didn’t know there was so much to do in the city, and I was going through a divorce and needed a new start. Before I went to the airport, I put a deposit down for an apartment and moved here 6 weeks later. I sold everything I owned–I fell in love with it!

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