Events for the week

may 4
Contemporary Hollywood Portraits: Pick up movie magazines, watch syndicated entertainment news programs, listen to cinephiles sit around the table for drinks and discussion--everyone's lamenting the dearth of genuine movie star appeal in American cinema. This is not a new complaint, of course--folks back in the '20s bemoaned the advent of sound, and how it had robbed performers of their mystery and glamour. While we must admit that the distance of decades has spurred some heavy-duty revision in how we assess some of the stars from Hollywood's Golden Age, the attitude with which actors and actresses viewed their craft changed radically with the influx of Stanislavsky-influenced New York actors during the '50s. No longer was a performer respected for honing a persona, for playing the same role over and over because his or her style and presence flowered inside that kind of part. "Lose yourself in the character" became this generation's credo--artifice and mannerism became dirty words, although, in fact, a large portion of these Method-trained actors wound up creating voices and gestures as affected as Cary Grant's or Bette Davis'. We're still feeling the aftereffects of the rejection of the concept of "stardom." Consider some of these issues when you hop over to The Afterimage Gallery to view Contemporary Hollywood Portraits, an exhibition of over 40 different contemporary actors and actresses photographed by 17 different photographers, all of them working for Movieline. Subjects include Jim Carrey, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, River Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, and many others. Contemporary Hollywood Portraits runs through May 20 at The Afterimage Gallery in The Quadrangle, 2828 Routh St. For more information call 871-9140.

may 5
Arts & Letters Live Cinco de Mayo: Arts & Letters Live closes its fourth hugely successful season with a holiday celebration that focuses on the contributions of three Hispanic-American writers whose intensely personal works blow the lid off multiculturalism as it's often practiced in cultural centers and universities across the country. The idea that all of us should be exposed to the philosophies of others is, of course, perfectly laudable, but it's only successful if the performances and discussions transcend the surface differences between cultures to find the remarkable similarities that connect myth, religion, social order, and so on. Multiculturalism that only celebrates difference further divides us. "A Cinco de Mayo Celebration of Latino Literature and Film" offers readings by nationally celebrated writers who put a universal face on the dilemmas of cultures very different from many of ours. Dagoberto Gilb has won countless fellowships and prizes for his work over the years, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim fellowship. His first novel is scheduled for publication in the fall, but he's already reaped critical praise for his collections of short stories. Denise Chavez published her first novel last fall, but had previously made a name for herself as a playwright who toured the country with her one-woman show. Pat Mora is a published poet who's also carried on a prolific career writing children's books. A new book of her poems is due out this fall. In addition to their readings, the program includes a new film by a Latino director that's being kept under wraps. "A Cinco de Mayo Celebration of Latino Literature and Film" kicks off at 7 pm in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 922-1219.

may 6
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth and Impulso de Monterrey and Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Fort Worth: It's one of the sad ironies of the post-NAFTA world that even as American businessmen are seeking to forge relationships with Mexican merchants in hopes of establishing a good-faith groundwork for trade, many of the same U.S. businessmen work diligently every day to punish illegal (and, in some cases, legal) Mexican immigrants who are trying, on a more modest hard-labor basis, to establish those same economic ties. It's the niceties that get publicized, the very honorable attempts to break the ice among business leaders through exchanges of art and culture. Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth has entered into a program with the Ballet Impulso de Monterrey to present collaborative performances on both sides of the border. Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth completed its Mexican tour in March, and now the Ballet Impulso de Monterrey Contemporary comes to Texas for a series of workshops, master classes, discussions, appearances, etc. that culminate in two collaborative concerts with specials guests Ballet Folkloric Azteca de Fort Worth. Dance/Fort Worth gives two performances with Impulso de Monterrey and Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Fort Worth Friday and Saturday at 8 pm in the Scott Theatre, 3505 W Lancaster in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$20. For ticket info call (817) 335-9000.

The Great Right Hope: Contract on America: By now most Americans are aware of the silly excesses perpetrated on American culture by the left ("political correctness," the obsessive culture of codependency, etc.), since pundits and performers have been drubbing them relentlessly for the past five years. But so far, few folks have had the courage to step out and lampoon the right wing, which is a real loss since Newt, Rush, and the boys have been making fools of themselves in public places with unusual vigor since they seized Congress. Sadly, many liberals have been reacting with a predictable pious outrage, instead of learning to get down and dirty and really kick this group of money-worshiping, fantasy-spinning macho men in their tyrannical kiesters. The latest Spy issue, which features the premiere of Republican Beat, a fictitious magazine for adolescent right-wingers whose "editors" elicited reams of hysterical quotes from eager Republican Congressmen and activists, is a great start. But come on, commentators, let's weigh in a little harder. Dallas-based comedy troupe 4 Out of 5 Doctors raises the stakes with an evening of original song parodies and sketches designed to kick some elephant butt. The Great Right Hope: Contract on America skewers Rush, Newt, the NRA, Operation Rescue, and everybody's favorite conservative in a tall hat, John Paul II. 4 Out of 5 Doctors presents The Great Right Hope: Contract on America every Friday and Saturday night at 11 pm through June 6 at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E Mockingbird. Tickets are $8. Call 821-1860.

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Jimmy Fowler