Arts Picks




Kitschy film director Douglas Sirk knew how to sneak unconventional social criticism into his glossy Hollywood soap operas, and Yalie creators Marcus Gardley and Susan Finque clearly intend to push that furtive strategy to new heights. (L)Imitations makes a backstage romp out of Sirk's 1959 Imitation of Life, the Lana Turner weeper about a single mother's friendshipwith her black maid, whose self-hating daughter is trying to "pass" for white. This comic consideration of race and class has the potential to go straight for the jugular and features three of Seattle's most merciless farceurs: Nick Garrison, Sarah Rudinoff, and Bhama Roget (pictured right, with Amber Wolfe). Opens 7:30 p.m. Wed., March 17. $10–$40. Empty Space Theatre, 3509 Fremont Ave. N., 206-547-7500. STEVE WIECKING




She started by climbing trees in her native Aberdeen, but when she got to New York City she was climbing the art gallery walls, in a series of "equipment pieces" where the mechanics of the special effects were laid bare for the viewer. She's been in the vanguard of postmodern dance ever since, taking movement apart to see how it works and piling it back up again with the seams showing. Her talk tonight will kick off an exhibit at the Henry exploring her collaborations with visual artists over the last 40 years. 7 p.m. Thurs., March 18. $12–$15. UW Kane Hall, Room 130, 206-543-2281. SANDRA KURTZ




More powerful and artful than Mel Gibson's The Passion, Robert Bresson's somber black-and-white 1966 classic deals masterfully with sin, suffering, and redemption in a rural French village. The star, a donkey, also compares favorably to Jim Caviezel in his central performance. A humble beast of burden, he takes his whippings and abuse stoically as he passes from one owner to the next. His one true love, Marie (Anne Wiazemsky, pictured), treats him with tenderness, but cruel economic circumstance—and the town's surly, handsome teen delinquent—doom her as much as the donkey. The new print and soundtrack are crisp; revised subtitles matter less, because there's so little dialogue. Translated from his braying, Balthazar might well be saying, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Fri., March 19–Thurs., March 25. Varsity, 4329 University Way N.E., 206-781-5755. BRIAN MILLER




This New York band turns the clock back to a day before salsa romántica, when powerful trombone solos filled Madison Square Garden and tight arrangements packed a punch, with no string section. Nothing wrong with love songs, but the Soneros know that dance trumps romance every time. Led by vocalist Frankie Vasquez, the Soneros revive many of the classic salsa dura hits from '70s Fania bands. An imperative for serious rumberos. 9:30 p.m. Sat., March 20. $20. Century Ballroom, 15 E. Pine St., 206-324-7263. MARK D. FEFER




Like some of his previous work, A Box of Matches (Vintage, $12.95, new in paper) could be called a novel, but it's more like a series of minutely observed ruminations by a guy not unlike Baker himself. Here, the narrator obsessively rises before dawn to stoke the fire of his centuries-old New England farmhouse, his midlife thoughts ranging from deceased parents to bygone happiness to methods of suicide, while his family sleeps contentedly upstairs. You half expect him to make like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but the neuroses get displaced into a typically Bakersonian scrutiny of all things small and, in their own way, profound. Again the author of The Mezzanine explores his mania for perforated paper products. 7 p.m. Tues., March 23. Free. UW Kane Hall, Room 130 (tickets required in advance from University Book Store, 206-634-3400). BRIAN MILLER

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