Phillip Walker: This weekend, Teatro Dallas was all prepared to present you a theatrical troupe from Venezuela performing a political satire in which the two lead characters were prostitutes. We'd be lying if we said we weren't a little disappointed to hear that the theatrical company never even made it out of the Venezuelan airport--their exit visa was denied at the last minute. The replacement for this installment of Teatro's 5th International Theatre Festival is Mr. Phillip Baker, artistic director of the African-American Drama Company in San Francisco. His Can I Speak For You, Brother? is a one-man show about the widely varying perspectives of famous (and infamous) black leaders throughout American history, and how impossible it is to predict political or moral outlooks based on the color of a person's skin. The words of Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X are included. Performances happen November 28 and 29 at 8:15 p.m. at Teatro Dallas, 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $15. Call (214) 741-6833.
Pet Photos With Santa: Our pets more than deserve the pampering we give them, if only because they are (conveniently mute) blank slates onto which we can project our emotional needs. In the scheme of inter-species relations, making your dog wear a sweater is about as pointless an act as buying your potbellied pig a pair of earrings or making your cat pose for a picture with Santa Claus. Nevertheless, Operation Kindness once again gives you the opportunity to make Tabby earn her tender vittles by posing with Santa. Photo sessions happen November 28 and 29 and December 6 and 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Warehouse Photographic and Lab, 2225 Beltline at Kelly, Carrollton. Each photo costs $5, and all proceeds benefit the homeless animals at Operation Kindness. Call (972) 418-0938.
Cinderella: When you hear that Theatre Britain is going to stage a "pantomime" version of Cinderella for its new production, you might be struck by terrifying visions of a black-hatted, white-faced actress making the motions of trying on a glass slipper. Thankfully, Theatre Britain traffics in the older version of that word, which is an Anglo fairy tale that involves audience participation, musical numbers, and the like. Theatre Britain already served this cockney stew via a production of Sleeping Beauty this past year, and the results were a word-of-mouth box-office hit. They're hoping to repeat that success with parents itching to take their kids to some holiday entertainment. Matinees happen November 29 and December 6, 13, 20, and 21 at 2 p.m., with evening performances December 12 and 19 at 8 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre in Carrollton. Tickets are $4-$6. Call (972) 242-2775.
A Christmas Carol: 'Tis the season of Nutcracker and Christmas Carol burnout, for critics as well as audience members; our nuts are cracked, and our voices hoarse from all that "God bless us, everyone"-ing by the time December 25 rolls around. As you may have guessed, Dickens' oft-repackaged tale of a penurious old codger who redeems himself when confronted with the sins of his past makes "Calendar" feel all cold and sterile inside; with the exception of Rowan Atkinson's perennially replayed TV gem A Black Adder Christmas, it's always just the same old hard candy in a different dish. But we recognize that performing arts groups must tend their cash cows with reverence--if Dallas Theater Center's popular annual production of A Christmas Carol, directed this year by the Undermain's Raphael Parry, means that the DTC gets to do more potentially divisive stuff like Angels in America or The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, then by all means, Marley, rattle those chains. Performances happen daily except Mondays through December 26 at the Arts District Theater, 2401 Flora St. Call (214) 522-8499.
Greetings! Fort Worth's Stage West is attempting to inject a little variety into the season by importing a production that's already become a holiday staple in major cities across America. This will be the regional premiere of Tom Dudzick's Greetings!, the story of a dysfunctional Catholic family that's derailed even further off the family tracks by the announcement that their son is about to marry a Jewish atheist. A charming interloper comes to remind them that religion very often gets in the way of relationships. The performance at 7:30 p.m. November 30 is a special preview before the show opens December 4. The audience can ask questions of the director and the cast. Tickets are $13-$16. Call (817) 784-9378.
Cleopatra: Because of Mother Teresa's death earlier this year, we were all dragged backward in time on a seemingly endless retrospective of the courageous acts of her career. Starving children this, diseased pariahs that. It's all admirable stuff, blah blah blah, but pales in comparison with another selfless, startling act: Liz Taylor posed for pictures bald! This was, of course, to prepare us for the later sight of Liz Taylor gray. This was a courageous public act--almost a ritual suicide, really, to make room for rebirth--from one ballsy dame. If you doubt it, imagine having gone in three decades from being hailed as the most beautiful woman in the world to having John Belushi do you in drag. We've all been waiting for Liz to exhale, and what better way to celebrate than remembering a time not so long ago when studios recreated whole Egyptian empires and laid them at her feet. Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Cleopatra presages the gaudy special-effects feasts of today, but boasts a special effect that no computer can conjure--the veritable chemistry lab that Liz and Dick create every time they glance at each other with malice-laced affection. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $7. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Legacy: The latest screenplay to be turned into a staged reading as part of The Potlatch series is a script by a Texas writer who recently made an impressive in-road into at least having her stuff ignored by the right people. A previous screenplay by Cathlynn Richard Dodson, The Precious Ones, recently placed in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship Competition, juried by industry veterans from both in front of and behind the camera. During its very first season, Potlatch premiered The Precious Ones with a staged reading; they continue their association with Dodson by presenting her latest script, Legacy, which concerns a 2,000-year-old secret coming back to haunt a woman. As usual, the writer is available after the reading and requests your constructive criticism. The reading happens at 7 p.m. at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St. It's free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Call (214) 953-1400.
Highland Park Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: Just as we knew it was inevitable for the ladies of historic preservation on Swiss Avenue to close those homes and allow the rest of us to view their stately mansions via videocassette in the Dallas Museum of Art, so we get an inkling that the annual holiday horse-drawn carriage rides through Highland Park are headed for exclusivity. Of course, the carriage-ride business isn't exactly nonprofit, so they rely on the soot-stained dragoons of the factory workers to keep their horses fed. But some kind of litmus doesn't seem unreasonable to prevent a clash of cultures: How about a urinalysis test before the carriage departs? A quick peek at the would-be rider's last income tax statement? A certificate of ethnic purity? The rides operate nightly, regardless of the weather, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Carriages will depart from Highland Park Village's center court. Guests can choose from a variety of public or private rides that range from $8.50 per person to $195 for a whole carriage for a whole hour. Call (214) 521-RIDE.
Celebrations of the Seasons: Perusing the press material for the Biblical Arts Center's new children's art show Celebrations of the Seasons, we noticed one particular disclaimer--"No artworks featuring secular subjects will be included." We couldn't help but think about the first, gloriously foul-mouthed South Park episode, TV's naughtiest new adult animation show, in which arch-nemeses Santa Claus and Jesus Christ battle it out for supremacy during the holidays. We hope that some particularly fervent 8-year-old might address the claw marks of secular humanism on Christ's birthday. Sadly, we can only report what we're told--they're a series of studies on Christian and Jewish themes done by local grade-school kids. The show runs through January 11 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane. Call (214) 691-4661.