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.
Mardi Gras Costume Ball: Ever since Newt and his Congressional army of philistines started huffing and strutting about the destruction of the National Endowment of the Arts, much newspaper copy has been devoted to how you, the Concerned Voter, can salvage public arts funding. But the most obvious, direct, and effective route has been largely ignored--why not just support the organizations you enjoy by regularly buying tickets to their productions and participating in the fund-raising events for each when they come along? Fort Worth's Hip Pocket Theatre, a venerable North Texas theatrical institution that offers both original works and intriguing variations on European works that date back many centuries, sponsors a Mardi Gras Costume Ball to entice regular patrons and new folks interested in supporting the arts. In addition to the Cajun dinner that comes with your admission in Fort Worth's ultra-posh Worthington Hotel, you are treated to an exclusive concert by Denton's spiciest beat-meisters, Brave Combo. Costume dress is optional but encouraged, with the most outrageous competing to win prizes. The Hip Pocket Theatre's Mardi Gras Costume Ball happens 9 pm to midnight at the Worthington, 200 Commerce St in Fort Worth. Tickets are $50 per person. For more information call (817) 927-2833.
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Fine Arts Chamber Players: There are a number of fine North Texas-based classical ensembles worth your patronage. Among the top is the Fine Arts Chamber Players, an orchestra of revolving instrumentalists from various top professional outfits who find a bit more freedom in both the planning and execution of Chamber Players concerts than they normally experience in the professional entities they call home. This latest concert in the Fourth Saturday series is entitled "Horn of Plenty," and features selections by Mozart, Wagner, Reicha, Mendelssohn, and Gabrieli arranged for horn ensemble. The featured participants include Gregory Hustis, principal horn of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and his guest artists Kendall Betts, principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra. The Fine Arts Chamber Players perform a free concert at 3 pm in the auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. For more information call 520-2219.
Keely and Du: Some of the most philosophically and morally significant debates in America have been degraded by knee-jerk posturing on both sides of the aisle. Nowhere is this truer than in the seemingly unresolvable issue of abortion. As ridiculous as it may sound, pro-choice and pro-life activists really share a common underlying goal--how best to deal with the profound consequences of human sexuality on ordinary, day-to-day life. The rhetoric they produce favors emotional excess over pragmatic solutions, and there can never be hope of compromise while gut reactions are elevated to the status of a holy mission. With so much anger emanating from both sides, is it any wonder that one of the first American playwrights to address this issue head-on would see her work become the most-produced play of this American season? Jan Martin's Keely and Du portrays the relationship between two women who represent the opposite extremes of this issue--Keely is a woman impregnated by rape, and Du is the Christian fundamentalist protester who holds her captive with the hope of forcing her to bear the child she wants to terminate. Performances for Keely and Du happen every Thursday-Saturday night at 8 pm, February 24-March 18, at the Dallas North Unitarian Church, 2525 Custer Rd. Tickets are $8-$10. For more information call 744-PLAY.
And Through the Eye Correct the Heart: Somewhere between political satire and political activism lies the work of artist Richard Mock. His linocut illustrations--literally, images of concentric lines carved into a hard surface and then stamped on paper--are eerie, funny, intricate statements about issues of national and international importance that combine Keith Haring and Kathe Kollwitz with just a dash of the primitive cave-dwelling artists. His works have been printed in publications all over the world, but he's earned something of an unofficial home base on the op-ed page of The New York Times. His other refuge is Populi, the United Nations Publications Development Forum. And Through the Eye Correct the Heart, the title of a retrospective of 60 pieces by Mock, says it all about his intentions--he seeks not just to entertain and enlighten, but to raise a sympathetic pulse about many of the humanitarian concerns he addresses. And Through the Eye Correct the Heart opens February 26 and runs through March 19 at The Gallery in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center at Southern Methodist University. It's free. For information call 768-4439.
Is Science Inherently Irrational? As you can see, the title of this presentation by a Dallas graduate philosophy student has been worded to usurp our assumptions about an institution that has, in this century, replaced the church as the first source we run to for hope and salvation. How can science, an edifice whose foundation is carefully regulated investigation and experimentation, ever be considered "irrational?" What Anthony Crifasi, the young gentleman who's giving this presentation to the Dallas Philosopher's Forum, is getting at was addressed brilliantly in Edwin Dobb's cover story for last month's Harper's--namely, that science, with all its indisputably grand accomplishments, has deceived itself into thinking scientific thought has somehow risen above the mind of man. The objectivity of the so-called "scientific method" has led many scholars and researchers to believe they've left no fingerprints on their work. As any old-time sophist can tell you, the answer you get is directly determined by the question you ask. The methods, goals, and--one can easily assume--the discoveries are a direct expression of our collective yearning for transcendence. This doesn't negate the legitimacy of scientific inquiry, but it does place it in a larger context--something many scientists are loath to do. This meeting of the Dallas Philosopher's Forum, folks who want to make you think till your ears bleed, gets under way at 7 pm at Wyatt's Cafeteria, Forest & Marsh. Admission is $4. For more information call 373-7216.