The Weekly Wire: The Week’s Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 9/30Visual Arts: Hidden EnemiesDuring his tenure at the University of Kansas, Roger Shimomura recently explained, "I met a farmer who asked me what I was and why I spoke English. By then, I'd gone through that conversation so many times as one of the few Asian faces in the Midwest." A third-generation Japanese-American and Seattle native who as a child was interned with his family during World War II, he explores such mistaken notions of identity and ethnicity in "Yellow Terror: The Collections and Paintings of Roger Shimomura." (The 70-year-old artist, who often shows at Greg Kucera, still lives in Lawrence, Kansas.) The exhibit is full of appropriated racist caricatures—Japanese depicted with severely slanted eyes and sickly yellow skin—and the latest anime imagery. Shimomura's self-portraits superimpose his face over cartoon icons like Sailor Moon and Astro Boy. Also on display is his collection of WWII-era ephemera accrued via eBay: salt-and-pepper shakers shaped like benign Japanese archetypes and newspaper cartoons with headlines like "How to Spot a Jap!" (You can detect the enemy by the wide spaces and calluses between their toes from wooden sandals.) The show's Pop Art style hardly masks its political content, however. As Shimomura said on opening night, "I was strangely attracted to the idea of creating art out of something that I hate." (Through April 18.) Wing Luke Asian Museum, 719 S. King St., 623-5124, $8.95–$12.95. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTTHURSDAY 10/1Stage: How Black Is Black?Too often, new theater pieces exploring identity politics ask little more of their audiences than respect. We end up nodding in agreement and applauding in reverence. With a mischievous, there-I-said-it spirit, playwright Young Jean Lee aims to shake up that dynamic in her theatrical pastiches. In the first of three vignettes, The Shipment opens with a dance to Semisonic's "Fascinating New Thing," moves into an MC's barbed stand-up act, and eventually culminates in a one-act comedy of manners with a clever reversal at its core. There's a certain reliance on puerile recitations of supposedly verboten words and sentiments—intended as daring cultural punctures, but no more outré than the edgier cable shows. But Lee's longer parlor comedy, where the take-home message isn't so ostentatious, carries the piece. Her trap-laying works beautifully, asking the audience to judge the content of her characters despite deliberately superficial evidence. Ironically, Lee may be at her best when satirizing the mores and neuroses of America's self-absorbed middle classes, regardless of racial politics. She excels at writing faux-naïf dialogue that reveals our flattened minds and boundless self-absorption. (Through Sunday.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, $24. 8 p.m. TOM SELLARClassical: Mit Größter VehemenzThe last time Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony played Mahler's Symphony No. 5, by coincidence I had just heard Michael Tilson Thomas conduct it with the San Francisco Symphony. Both performances were thrilling, and the differences were illuminating. Thomas' reading was about clarity and grandly exquisite architecture: Apollonian rather than Dionysian, like Haydn writ large. Schwarz seems to take to heart Mahler's dictum "The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything"; his Fifth is thundering, voracious, extravagant, even a bit chaotic when it ought to be. And I always maintain Schwarz has a special knack for pacing and phrasing in strings-only works, especially a romantic, yearning, push-pull, sweet-bitter piece like this symphony's slow fourth movement. To open, Isabelle Faust solos in Mendelssohn's suavely refined, justly popular Violin Concerto. (Also: noon Fri., 8 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.) Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. and Union St., 215-4747, $17–$100. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTFRIDAY 10/2Film: The Beast WithinRidley Scott's director's cut of Alien—running through Tuesday—isn't much different than the version that had its world premiere (!) at SIFF '79. In truth, Scott confessed of this 117-minute edition, adding back a couple of deleted scenes didn't really help the pacing. But they don't really hurt, either, not when all of us know the inexorable plot of this sci-fi classic. Long before Snakes on a Plane, there was monster on a cargo ship, and the creaky, leaky, smoke-filled old Nostromo only gets smaller and more claustrophobic as the alien parasite eats and grows. Basically unknown when she was cast, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley now seems the movie's inevitable heroine. But it doesn't begin that way. Instead, the slow, procedural windup pits a grumbling, resentful crew against the evil corporation that employs them. At first, nobody looks like a prospective hero. These blue-collar space drones don't want to detour to the distress beacon; they don't want to leave the ship to investigate. Only Ian Holm—because he's been programmed that way—has a cold-blooded curiosity about the creature they take on board. Would a preshow Q&A with local actor Tom Skerritt be too much to hope for? (Followed at 10 p.m. by James Cameron's very worthy, very different 1986 sequel Aliens [through Sunday]—your chance to scream "Game over, man, game over!" with Bill Paxton.) SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, $8–$10. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTheater: 1809–2009Why now? Why a 70-year-old play about a president who died 144 years ago? Robert E. Sherwood's drama Abe Lincoln in Illinois won the Pulitzer Prize, and now director Sheila Daniels dusts it off for Intiman's "American Cycle." Erik Lochtefeld portrays the future wartime leader, raised on the fringe of the American frontier during the early 19th century, when the American Midwest was essentially its far West. The country lawyer, largely self-educated, eventually became a successful corporate lawyer who represented railroad interests against shipping along the Mississippi. Entering politics in Illinois, he lost more races than he won. He was, in short, the longest of long-shot candidates for national office. Sherwood ends the play before Lincoln took office and faced the Civil War, but he wrote it as America again stood on the brink of war. Like Lincoln, Roosevelt—whose administration Sherwood later joined—was elected in peacetime, then forced to serve as commander in chief. Neither leader sought war, but both were defined by it. (Through Nov. 16.) Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St., 269-1900, $32–$37. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLERSATURDAY 10/3Photography: The SLR TravelerDrawn from his 2007 PBS series and recent companion volume (Mountaineers, $24.95), the images in Travels to the Edge are pure Art Wolfe. The West Seattle photographer knows what we—if we had his passport and budget—would try to capture, only not as well. From Baja to Bhutan, he reliably frames the world as we'd like to see it: pristine, unpolluted, never crowded with tourists, where the natives are always friendly and the snow is always white. There's no trash or environmental despoliation; leave those topics to Chris Jordan or Edward Burtynsky. Wolfe's world is apolitical and unapologetically pretty, a world you want to visit without guilt. It's easy to dismiss his work—industry, really—as mere pictorialism. Yes, everything's a little too perfect, a little too arranged and color-adjusted. But Wolfe's not a photojournalist or social documentarian. He's an über-tourist who, after three decades' hard work, brings back the souvenirs few of us can afford to shoot. (Through Nov. 28.) Benham Gallery, 1216 First Ave., 622-2480, Free. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTUESDAY 10/6Books/Food: Found FoodIn a region full of mushroom hunters, public-park fruit scavengers, and clam diggers, Langdon Cook is a forager's forager. He sees not only salmonberries and wild mussels but the tiny field greens (aka weeds) and lesser fungi all around us. He dropped out of the corporate world a few years ago to write—beautifully—about wild foods. Each of his weekly blog posts is devoted to some local ingredient that he researches, locates, photographs, and cooks with, finding unexpected uses for unexpected foods. More than a few of the weeds get turned into pestos, for instance, but some end up in chocolate sauce or tempura-fried. Tonight, he'll discuss such improvised recipes from his new collection, Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager (Skipstone, $26.95). University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, Free. 7 p.m. JONATHAN KAUFFMAN

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