If you just know Ship of Fools and "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" from college classes, you don't know the late Texas writer Katherine Anne Porter. Her one novel, Ship of Fools, felt, to some critics, like Peyton Place in a life jacket (plus one dwarf). Even at that (and especially in her short fiction), Porter's fiercely disciplined prose style led her characters along the edge of a dagger blade long before they knew the danger. Arts & Letters Live revisits Porter's career with a discussion by UT professor Don Graham, a videotaped interview with playwright Horton Foote, and a story read by the Undermain's Katherine Owens. The event happens at 7:30 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $12-$14. Call (214) 922-1220.
Many of the people who are called "performance artists" hate that phrase, because it manages to be both vague and redolent of a bludgeoning self-indulgence: Based on their worst press, you could call performance artists the mimes of the '90s. The glowing reviews of Ann Carlson suggest she's an example of the best this medium has to offer: a woman who tries to grasp some universal truths rather than just roll out her beefs against the world and carve slices for the audience. Carlson is first and foremost a choreographer, so expect a heavy dance influence in pieces such as "Sarah" and "Sold." Performances happen at 8 p.m. April 2-4 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $16. Call (214) 953-1212.
Theatre Three recently staged a production of David Hare's Racing Demon, a three-hour-long debate on the Church of England's social policies that didn't feel long and was rarely didactic. Now, Fort Worth's Stage West brings another of the British author's plays, Skylight, to North Texas. As is often the case with Hare the British humanist, Skylight examines how politics shape personal relationships; in this case, the rekindled affair between a hugely successful conservative businessman and a left-wing teacher 20 years younger than him. The show opens 7:30 p.m. April 2, and the regular run is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through April 18 at Stage West, 3055 S. University Drive, Fort Worth. Tickets are $11-$16. Call (817) STG-WEST.
While it may be hard to convince poor neighborhoods with potholed streets and cracked sidewalks, up-to-date, accessible neighborhood branch libraries are as important as infrastructure maintenance. You can step over or drive around broken concrete; you can't so easily afford personal Internet access for job finding and education. The Spring Book Sale given by the Friends of the Arlington Public Library offers more than 85,000 items divided into 32 categories, from paperbacks to hardbacks to CDs to videotapes. All proceeds from the sale benefit the Arlington public library system. The event happens 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. April 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 3 and 4, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 5 at the George W. Hawkes Central Library, 101 E. Abram St., Arlington. Call (817) 274-8831.
You could argue that African-Americans have been affected far less by political and cultural racism during the past decade than by economic racism, an institutionalized capitalist bias that ensures blacks enjoy their full civil rights even as poverty grinds down a disproportionate segment of that population. This is what's behind events like The Texas Black Expo, a gathering of more than a hundred vendors displaying products and services. Black business owners target the event specifically for black consumers. There is also live music, workshops on financing college and building your own business, and other stuff. Events happen day and night April 4 and 5 at the Dallas Convention Center. For information call (214) 376-9525.
The Greek and Roman mythologies are as close to us today as they ever were, whether in Freudian-Jungian psychology or in George Lucas' newly kick-started Star Wars series. But is there such a thing as a Texas mythology--a set of fables and larger-than-life characters and themes that run throughout our state's literature? The Writer's Garret wants to find out with Writing the Myths of Texas, a discussion and reading by Texas writers Laverne Harrell Clark and Benjamin Alire Saenz. The event happens at 3 p.m. Upstairs at Paperback Plus, 6115 La Vista. It's free. Call (214) 828-1715.
April 6 Jesus Christ was born just one man, but religions and intra-faith denominations across the last 20 centuries have transformed him into many different men--often to fit their theological agendas. So was Jesus more a Jew, a Roman Catholic, or a Southern Baptist? The wave-making PBS series Frontline premieres a two-hour documentary titled From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians that chronicles the short life of Jesus of Nazareth using "new and controversial historical evidence." Any group that thinks Jesus belongs to them may be in for a nasty surprise. The show is broadcast at 8 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
It's true that old people are full of wisdom about life that many young people foolishly ignore. But that's such a dreary way to phrase it. We prefer to think seniors have stockpiled some of the juiciest gossip this side of Army Archerd and are waiting to spill like the Hoover Dam over a cup of tea. The Dallas Theater Center presents Emily Mann's two-woman comedy Having Our Say, which features the real-life reminiscences of two 100-year-old black sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth. These witnesses of two world wars, the depression, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution don't always express the opinions you expect them to. The play opens at 7:30 p.m. April 7; regular performances run 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through April 26 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Tickets are $16-$49. Call (214) 522-TIXX.
The Lakewood's "Weekday Classics" series advertises the 1956 Biblical extravaganza The Ten Commandments as an "Easter Special," but it's really good old-fashioned Hollywood schmaltz in a year when the Academy rewarded high-tech, fin-de-siecle schmaltz (Titanic) big-time. What Cecil B. DeMille's remake of his own 1923 Biblical story offers is a smashing example of cinematic ham salad, served buffet-style on the Lakewood's gigantic screen. The recipe? Mix one third Technicolor mayo; add panting, not-unimpressive-for-their-day special effects for seasoning; and mix thoroughly with generous porcine chunks of Charlton Heston's squinty, bellowing thespian style. The Lakewood's ultra-frigid air conditioning ensures it'll be served cold for these warmer months. The screening happens 7:30 p.m. April 7 and 8 at the Lakewood Theater, Abrams and Gaston. Admission is a quarter. Call (214) 827-