The Hothouse: 11th Street Theater Project stages the work of one of the murkiest, most cerebral of British playwrights for its latest production. Dialogue in a Harold Pinter play isn't explanation; it's clue. His deliberately ambiguous themes and situations often take audiences on a scavenger hunt. It's difficult to find a tone and pace that does Pinter justice, but when all the elements click, you're sent on a safari into the tangled brush of "civilized" white-collar class psyches. The Hothouse is one of Pinter's wry comedies, a look at the internal politics--including sexual--of a mysterious British government agency. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. through August 23 at St. Matthew's Cathedral, 5100 Ross at Henderson. Call (214) 522-PLAY.
Beyond Life With Timothy Leary: There was so much more to Timothy Leary than LSD, although cultural traditionalists would have you believe Leary's fling with the notorious hallucinogen was the illicit sum of his contribution to American popular thought. As sober and intelligent a documentary as any countercultural icon could hope to receive, Beyond Life With Timothy Leary, being screened by the Video Association of Dallas in connection with CineMAC, interviews a number of the famous and infamous connected with Leary from the 1960s through his death last year. The title is a pun, both on Leary's recent death and his whole quasi-spiritual philosophy--his sense of the human imagination as God's greatest gift, allowing us to transcend physical limitation. Screenings happen Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $5. Call (214) 651-8600.
Heather Gorham: Washington, D.C., native Heather Gorham's brightly colorful paintings create a cheeky, sometimes vaguely sinister world where animals of different species collide and reform in different combinations. With her new one-woman show at State St. Gallery, Gorham culminates four years of various group shows across North Texas. She is a viewer's painter, which is to say she's more interested in relating universal experience (albeit in a surrealistic way, and with fantastically vibrant colors) than messing with the form of painting itself. The new show of her paintings opens with a reception August 8, 7-9 p.m. through September 5 at State St. Gallery, 2606 State St. Call (214) 220-0556.
Grandma Had It, Now I Do--So What Is It? Yes, she was supportive, unconditional in her love and encouragement, but there's still the bottom line that death draws between the deceased and their survivors: Is all the old stuff left in her estate worth anything? In the first of its series of antique programs, Lower Greenville Antique Mall offers an appraisal-workshop--"Grandma Had It, Now I Do--So What Is It?"--that whisks participants through the current market value of furniture, tableware, and other household accessories as well as an educational overview of five periods from 1890-1950. If there's time, the workshop conductors will offer preliminary evaluations of items brought by participants. The event starts at 2:30 p.m. at Skillman Southwestern Branch Library, 5707 Skillman. Call (214) 670-6078.
Texas Establishment For Animal Rights: Last month's issue of Harper's contained a thoughtful, sometimes indignant call for tolerance on the part of one of America's most suspect political movements--animal rights. It's about as fair to equate the extremists who shoot out the windows of research universities with the majority of animal rights proponents as it is to compare the Ku Klux Klan with the Religious Right (on second thought, let's try a better example...). The nonprofit organization known as T.E.A.R. (Texas Establishment for Animal Rights) includes in its manifesto that the group "confronts and challenges animal exploitation on an ethical basis and with fact-based research." Yes, they do challenge certain types of medical experimentation on animals that explores human treatment alternatives. But as the Harper's piece pointed out, many researchers, when pushed, will admit that transspecies experimentation yields little that can be practically applied to humans. T.E.A.R. meets at at 1:30 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak. It's free. Call (972) 623-6170.
The Baltimore Waltz: With Paula Vogel's searingly intimate study of incest and exploitation, How I Learned To Drive, currently providing Mary Louise Parker and David Morse with a vehicle to wow 'em Off Broadway, Kitchen Dog Theater dips back into the Vogel canon to stage arguably her most famous work, The Baltimore Waltz. It's true that the play, which concerns a brother and sister traveling together on an imaginary European adventure, has its tragic side--the brother is battling a fatal illness, not unlike Vogel's late sibling, who died of AIDS. But Kitchen Big Dog Joe Nemmers wants people to know that the show is essentially a comedy about how to live in the shadow of death--a place where all of us dwell, regardless of our HIV status. Performances happen Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through September 14 at 3120 McKinney. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Eighth Annual Big Cat Weekend: Barbara Ehrenreich's brilliant nonfiction tome on the origins of war, Blood Rites, makes a startling yet commonsensible hypothesis: Humankind's bellicosity comes from our memory of pre-civilization, when we hadn't discovered fire and hand tools and were extremely vulnerable to larger, hairier, faster, clawed mammals. A few million years of evolution have turned the tables, as activities like the Dallas Zoo's Eighth Annual Big Cat Weekend prove. Our developed brain stems have put the big cats at our mercy, a quality humankind tends to serve in teaspoonfuls. Cat keepers on hand to discuss preservation work will focus on the endangered status of these beautiful, sometimes still deadly creatures, and to assert how their survival benefits everyone. There's live music, a roaring contest, arts and crafts, and special exhibits of big cats receiving yummy treats like "bloodsicles." Activities happen August 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and August 10, 1-5 p.m., at the Dallas Zoo, 650 R.L. Thornton Freeway. Admission to the zoo is $2.50-$5. Call (214) 670-5656.
Hunger: Youth Could Know Theatre Company's co-artistic director Matt Zrebski asserts: "There's nothing more depressing than staging a big musical for an audience of three." Hence, your presence is requested--nay, implored--at Youth Could Know's final summer 1997 show, an original songfest with book, lyrics, and music by Zrebski called Hunger. That prefab "Baby, I'm Gonna Be a Star" showtune vibe creeps out "Calendar" as much as the next Joe or Jane, but the press material for Hunger suggests Zrebski and Youth Could Know have bigger ambitions than letting frustrated opera students strut their vibrato. The play incorporates political and fantasy elements to create a vision of the millennium's end where the interests of a farmer, a swan, and a family created by remarriage converge. Performances happen Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through August 17 in the Basement Theatre B-450 in the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University. Donations are accepted at the door. Call (214) 739-4710.
Letter From Waco: Anyone who saw Don Howard's sardonic love letter to his hometown, Letter From Waco, at this year's USA Film Festival knows that Howard accomplished a small miracle--making one of Texas' least charming cities into a place of nuance, intrigue, and complexity. Of course, Howard knows that even the dullest, most barren region on the planet contains fodder for analysis if it contains that curious species known as homo sapiens (Lubbock is the sole exception to this; even with humans, it's a dull, barren region). Letter From Waco weaves the Civil War, Dr Pepper, David Koresh, Indian folklore, and ravaging tornadoes into a heartfelt but never sappy essay/prose poem/documentary about the history of Waco, including his life there. Letter From Waco makes its national broadcast debut as part of the Independent Television Service at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
New Acquisitions: During the last few weeks of summer, Photographs Do Not Bend has decided to display its new photos the way a kid displays new clothes at the start of the fall semester. New Acquisitions is the name of a photographic grab bag that introduces viewers both to the newest purchases made by the galleries and, among them, the new artists who've never shown there before. They cover the waterfront from John Albok's urgent, noirish photos of New York City in the 1930s to Imogen Cunningham's abstract renderings of reflected images to William Christenberry's tours of the late 20th century South. The show opens August 8 with a reception 6-9 p.m. and runs through August 30 at 3115 Routh. Call (214) 969-1852.