Don’t You Love a Good Surprise?

This past weekend, my significant other surprised me with an evening enjoying the live theater of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the legendary village of Arcosanti in Mayer, Arizona. A little over an hour’s drive north of Phoenix, this architectural and artistic treasure does not disappoint.

Pictured: Arcosanti Vault Stage, photo by the Cosanti Foundation

The small theater at Arcosanti offers an intimate setting to enjoy the show. As the skilled actors deliver their fine performance, they switch back and forth from the small stage in front of the seating area to the gorgeous natural landscape behind your chair-thus placing me and the rest of the audience right in the middle of the unfolding action. I felt like I was a part of the story. It was truly a treat watching the “fairies” climb and perch themselves in the branches of the olive trees to spy on their human counterparts. The views of the giant Cypress trees against a starry Arizona night sky were simply stupendous. Most of the play unfolded in this setting.

Pictured: Arcosanti Grounds and actors 

We were all in for a surprise when we were informed that for the play’s final act, we would walk over to the Roman-style amphitheater. Sitting in this ancient-style stadium was a wonderful way to enjoy the end of a fantastic all-around experience.

If you don’t already know, the village of Arcosanti is what they call “an attempt at a prototype arcology, integrating the design of architecture with respect to ecology.”  The residents live and work together for the Cosanti Foundation. The site of Arcosanti was a vision realized by Italian architect, Paolo Soleri. There is much to learn about Arcosanti, so please click on the links included throughout my article to learn more. The Arcosanti artists are most known for creating casted bronze windbells and ceramics which you can purchase when you visit, or buy them on their website. It’s a fascinating place to visit and a treat for the eyes. Everywhere you look there is some created art object, workshop, or architectural structure to marvel at. Small structures are dotted throughout the village, and geometric shapes frame your views of the desert landscape.

Pictured: Arcosanti ceramics and shop

Something I didn’t know is that you can book a hotel room to stay onsite overnight. They also offer guided tours and hiking trails, and there is an on-site cafe. As our visit was in the evening, we weren’t able to enjoy the guided tour or trails, but we vowed to return to experience these very soon.

It’s such a surprise to me that a place like this exists so close to home. When you are in Arcosanti, you feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of urban Phoenix. I thought about the residents and what their life must be like here-living and working together in such a small space. I thought of the genius creative force that thrives here and the legacy of a great architect and artist who made this dream of his a reality.

When traveling, I always seek out the story -satisfying my yearning to connect to whatever place life has given me the chance to explore. Arcosanti’s story will fascinate any visitor, and the setting will inspire you. I highly recommend you put this place on your list! -Rachel

Pictured: Arcosanti Residences

ps. Paolo Soleri had a major influence throughout the valley. He came to Scottsdale to study under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. One of his last major works, Soleri Bridge in old town Scottsdale is a familiar site to valley residents.

Pictured: Soleri Bridge, Scottsdale, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Scottsdale Public Art are divisions of Scottsdale Arts. Copyright ©2023 Scottsdale Arts. All rights reserved.