Valery Kuleshov: In retrospect, isn't it strange that the former Soviet Union often made exceptions (albeit heavily guarded ones) for its most talented artists when the time came to export Russian influences throughout the rest of the world? That suggests there has always been, in many of the most restrictive regimes all around the world, an acknowledgment of the universal significance of art. Although the young Russian pianist Valery Kuleshov made his North American debut less than two years ago, he still flourished after the Iron Curtain had fallen in his native land within a specialized circle of tutors and peers who kept him isolated from the everyday turmoils of his less fortunate fellow citizens. Kuleshov won the silver medal that year, was booked for two seasons of American recitals, and saw his triumphant performance released to glowing critical notices on the Phillips label. He currently makes his home in Moscow, where his interpretations of the great European composers have served as something of a consolation to many impoverished Muscovites who've discovered that life in the newly established free market can be even more brutal than the daily deprivations of Communism. Valery Kuleshov performs as part of the Cliburn Concert Series at 8 pm in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10-$30. For more information call 335-9000.
Lawrence Otis Graham: There's a quiet revolution going on in many parts of the African-American community, what with intensive Republican efforts to tap core conservative black voters as well as a concerted white effort to roll back many of the federal programs that civil rights-era blacks worked so hard to implement. But the attitudes that lay behind the powerbrokers' activities have yet to be explored. We know that beneficiaries of the recent Republican landslide are overwhelmingly white, male, moneyed, and law-degreed--traditionally, the same constituency that fought voting and other civil rights advances a generation ago. Have the opinions toward racial equality and class tolerance really changed among the country club set? Lawrence Otis Graham, a corporate attorney and graduate of both Harvard and Princeton, decided to find out for himself. He went undercover as a busboy in a prominent (and lily-white) Connecticut country club to record what he heard and how he was treated. His experiences are now in development as a feature film from Warner Brothers starring Denzel Washington, but you can hear the tales firsthand when Graham speaks in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theatre, 3140 Dyer St, on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. His presentation is free and open to the public. Call 768-4400.
Anything Goes: While social oppression is a horrible thing for any individual to undergo, it's also true that the most cunning and creative of the oppressed find inspirational opportunities for expression they wouldn't otherwise have had. Take Cole Porter, one of the greatest songwriters America has produced in this century and also one of the gayest men who ever lifted a martini among shady, decadent after-hours company. While only a resurrected Porter himself can testify whether the severe moral constraints of his era were worth it, the rest of us can savor his energetic, intuitive craftsmanship--and the provocative sexual flavor that informed it. He combined elaborate melodies with a lyrical acuity that's left contemporary greats like Randy Newman and Elvis Costello in awe (and in debt). The Fort Worth Theatre stages another incarnation of Porter's venerable musical farce Anything Goes, in which such classic American archetypes as the gangster, the heiress, the diva, and the banker collide on board a ship destined for True Love. This work has been interpreted a number of ways (including several sparkling all-male productions across the country), but you really must catch the original context of the title song, You're the Top, and I Get a Kick Out of You to appreciate Porter's artistry. The Fort Worth Theatre performs Cole Porter's Anything Goes Thursday afternoons and Friday and Saturday evenings through March 4 at the W. E. Scott Theatre, 3505 W Lancaster in Fort Worth. Tickets are $7-$16. For times and other info call (817) 738-6509.
Edward Albee: Speaking of gay writers who don't specialize in gay subject matter, playwright Edward Albee has never been afraid to talk openly of his life, even at a time when the so-called "Sexual Revolution" of the '60s (the decade when Albee enjoyed his greatest celebrity) excluded men and women who confessed their same-sex preferences. And in the post-Stonewall '70s and AIDS-stunned '80s, he was widely criticized for almost never addressing gay issues in plays that had become so baroque, obscure, and verbally driven they'd alienated audience members of every stripe. Yet if Albee has only recently matched the fiery theatricality of early successes like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance, his mid-period work should not be ignored. Plays like Tiny Alice and Seascape may have curdled in production, but they flower on the page, where the author's eloquent ear for language--not exactly how we talk, but how the most noble part of us would express our deepest conflicts--sings with a melancholy rapture no other American playwright of this century can match. The three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner reads as part of the "Distinguished Writers" series of Arts & Letters Live at 8 pm in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Although the show is sold out, released tickets may be available 30 minutes before the evening begins. For more information, call 922-1220.