Malignant Redemption: Goethe's Faust legend has for centuries now served as a neat microcosm of humanity's search for experience beyond the physical realm. Its protagonist can be displayed as cocky or well-meaning, the antagonist as evil or fateful, but always, the action forces us to consider the consequences of a pride that would transcend death. Coincidentally timed to the release of Randy Newman's stage production-cum-album Faust, the local theater company Extra Virgin Performance Cooperative has dedicated its entire 1995-'96 season to an exploration of the Faust myth--a brave undertaking in a town not known to support classical theater unless you can drink wine and beer and chat during the performance. Extra Virgin has recently wrapped up a three-hour version of Faust's original play, and now moves on to Malignant Redemption, a loose adaptation by local playwright Dalton James. As much a parable for the age of AIDS as a literary adaptation, Malignant Redemption runs Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through December 16 in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 941-3664.
Barbra Cook: Cabaret seems hopelessly archaic in the context of contemporary popular music. Then why has Tony Bennett become a hit among folks who were born about the time Bennett entered his third decade of performing? It could be because cabaret and "alternative" music are highly stylized breakouts from their respective pop mainstreams that pay close attention, nevertheless, to the essentials of popular songs. Barbra Cook has spent four decades singing in stage musicals as well as being a solo performer who packs 'em in at the snazziest jazz halls around the world. Cook, like many from her generation and medium, has been trained to perform in a variety of styles--based on whatever the songwriter demands. It's this reverence for the lyric that distinguishes Cook and other cabaret artists, and the major reason why you should attend this evening of classic and contemporary American songs. Tony- and Grammy-winning veteran Cook performs with her long-time arranger-pianist Wally Harper December 7-9 at 8 p.m. at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. All tickets are $40. Call 521-7666.
A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols: In their efforts to gleefully celebrate Christmas, people often bypass the scriptural significance of the event altogether. Still, for many, Christmas offers a challenge to find a personal meaning within one of the Bible's most compelling supernatural stories. Southern Methodist University holds its annual Christmas Worship Service that is, for both families and individuals, an excellent chance to unite the need for fellowship and consideration of a purpose bigger than yourself. A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was first performed in England 77 years ago, and features the story of man's salvation from Genesis to John the Evangelist. There will be live performances by SMU choirs and instrumentalists as well as talks from various SMU theologians. The event happens at 4 and 8 p.m. in Perkins Chapel on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. It's free. For info call 768-2348.
Dallas Finn: Westerners often think of the Victorian Age as a strictly Anglo affair, an era in which technology was as worshiped as sexuality was policed. But during what is known as the Meiji period of Japan (roughly, 1868-1912), the Japanese were influenced by certain aspects of Victorianism--aspects which were, amazingly, very natural extensions of their highly developed culture that, though mostly isolated from the West, ran on a very similar track. To further enlighten us on turn-of-the-century Japan, the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth hosts a talk by internationally renowned historian Dallas Finn, author of the new book Meiji Revisited: The Sites of Victorian Japan. It was during this 42-year period that Japan transformed itself from feudalism into the sleek and efficient world producer it is today. Finn uses Japanese architecture to illustrate how Japan became increasingly Westernized--just like its culture. The talk begins at 6:30 p.m. in the University of Texas at Arlington's School of Architecture. It's free. For info call 761-1791.
Kwanzaa Celebration: By now you've probably heard a certain African proverb repeated so many times in the media, you could throw up: "It takes an entire village to raise a child." While often invoked for strictly partisan reasons in America, the phrase carries great weight among tribes across the African continent, which fight among themselves with the same bloodthirstiness as the rest of the world yet also seem to respect collective effort and the traditions of family more than most contemporary societies. Project Bridge, a community-based arts education program funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts and sponsored by Junior Players, presents a celebration of Kwanzaa, which is a late-year commemoration of seven basic African principles. The event happens 5-7:30 p.m. at Rhoads Terrace Recreation Center, 5712 Pilgrim in South Dallas. For more information call 526-4076.
Alternative Holiday Bazaar: Paranoid about buying gifts that may have been manufactured by legions of women and children earning a few cents an hour in Third World sweat shops? Take your shopping list to the Alternative Holiday Bazaar, which promises to sell only "socially responsible" gifts during its three days. This year marks the fifth Bazaar, which is co-sponsored by the First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, the Fort Worth Friends Meeting, and the Catholic Diocesean Parish Justice Committees. There are the usual hand-made items, calendars, and T-shirts with "peace" messages as well as crafts and clothing from Pueblo to People, a non-profit organization that imports stuff from Latin American cooperatives. You also can chat at the numerous social service booths, representing everything from UNICEF to Amnesty International to the Sierra Club. The Bazaar will take place on December 8, 7:30 p.m.; December 9, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and December 10, noon-5 p.m. at the First Jefferson Church, 1959 Sandy Lane in East Fort Worth. Call (817) 467-5698 for more information.