Not About Nightingales was penned in 1938 by Tennessee Williams, then age 27. The flawed but worthy drama is about a prison riot in Philadelphia -- and the retribution, unto death, wreaked upon its ringleaders. This production represents the play's world premiere. Directed by Trevor Nunn of London's Royal National Theatre, it stars James Black of Houston's Alley Theatre and Britain's Corin Redgrave, brother of the famed actresses Vanessa and Lynn and son of the equally renowned actor Sir Michael. Final performances are at 7:30 tonight and 8 p.m. Friday. The Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas, 230-1600. $35 and $37 (tix: 228-8421).
There are stretches and there are stretches; pairing the flicks Delicatessen and The Silence of the Lambs under the heading "A Day of Independence from Order & Sanity" is a stretch. But it's an inspired pairing. Sweeney Todd meets The Road Warrior in the French farce Delicatessen, set in a postapocalyptic world with dwindling meat reserves. The residents of a dilapidated apartment building receive occasional rations of the stuff from their landlord, who's also a butcher and an unrepentant cannibal. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro co-directed Deli, which was released in '91. So was Lambs, which won Oscars for Best Picture, Director (Jonathan Demme), Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Actress (Jodie Foster). We can't argue with the talent honorifics, but Best Picture? It's a gripping picture, as Hopkins's Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter and Foster's FBI agent Clarice Starling play mental cat-and-mouse in pursuit of Lecter's serial-killing peer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). Deli screens at 7:30 tonight and Saturday, Lambs at 9:30 each night. The Rice Media Center, Rice University entrance 8 (University and Stockton), 527-4853. $5.
The "Red, White & You" weekend raises funds for HIV/AIDS research at Illinois's City of Hope National Medical Center/Beckman Research Institute and the Body Positive Houston Wellness Center. It begins with a "Blast-Off" party at 9 tonight at a location to be announced ($10). On the Fourth, there's the "Big Bang" fireworks/dance party at 7 p.m. at the Rooftop, 3400 Montrose ($35) and the "Red, White & You" dance party at 10 p.m. at the Edwin Hornberger Conference Center, 2151 West Holcombe ($40). The "Lost in Space" after-hours dance party takes place in the wee hours of Sunday morning at Rich's, 2401 San Jacinto ($10); it's followed at noon by the "Mission Accomplished" bash at Spy, 112 Travis ($30). All-access passes are $105. Info: 521-2910, 524-2374.
Our patriotic picks for the Fourth include a couple of American archetypes -- Ansel Adams and Willie Nelson -- and a newfangled soiree. Late photographer Adams was unparalleled in the art of the landscape; his luminous silver-gelatin shots of the American West shimmer with timeless inner light. "Ansel Adams, a Legacy" draws together more than 100 images from the artist's long career; most are "dramatic enlargements" of classic works that Adams made in his own darkroom from the 1960s until his death in '84. "A Legacy" opens today and continues through August 29. Willie Nelson is also an American original, and so's his annual Fourth of July Picnic in the little town of Luckenbach; this year's edition includes performances by Nelson & Family, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Asleep at the Wheel, Leon Russell, Jesse Dayton, Ronnie Dawson and Alvin Crow. There'll be just as many Texas artists at the fundraiser called "Independents' Day," though we'll lay odds that none will be playing country music. The local alt types contributing their time include DadaNET circus, the Art Guys, Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, SLUMP Performance Art Co., Cynthia Cupach, DJ Eric(a) Dieckman, and Zachary Carrettin and Derek Menchan of OrchestraX. "Ansel Adams": the Houston Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive in Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. Willie's Picnic: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Info: (800) 966-SHOW; www.luckenbachtexas.com. "Independents' Day": 9 p.m. TemplO, 5217 Feagan, 802-1828.
Agatha Christie's yarn Spider's Web, about high intrigue in the world of diplomacy, is the opening salvo in the Alley Theatre's "SummerChills '98" series. Today's shows are at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. (For the rest of this week's schedule, see page 50.) The production continues through July 12. The Large Stage at the Alley, 615 Texas, 228-9341. $16.
Most of us will never set foot on the fourth rock from the Sun, so "Mars: Race to the Red Planet" might be the next best thing to being there. Billed as "the interactive embodiment of NASA's vision for the first human mission to Mars," the exhibit includes a fast hop into the future via the Red Planet Virtual Reality ride, spins aboard the zero-gravity Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT) and the Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV), a virtual jaunt on the planet's surface and a trip home courtesy of the In-Situ Resource Utilization unit (the ISRU is supposed to distill energy from Martian resources to power the real MTV on its return voyage in the year 2020). "Red Planet" continues through September 7; daily hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Road 1 (20 miles south of downtown, off I-45 at Johnson Space Center), Clear Lake, (281) 244-2100. $12.95; $11.95 for seniors; $8.95 for children four to 11; free for younger children.
Vera Carp, Pearl Burras, Arles Struvie, Bertha Bumiller, Garland Poteet and the other residents of mythical Tuna, Texas, go out with a bang in Red, White and Tuna. No, they don't blow their little crossroads to Kingdom Come, a la poor, used-up Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the explosive denouement of the TV series Little House on the Prairie. But there are fireworks, literal and character-driven, in this (purportedly) final installment of Joe Sears and Jaston Williams's "Tuna Trilogy." The show takes place during a Tuna High School reunion over a Fourth of July weekend, and addresses the concept, says Williams, of "change and how it happens ... or doesn't. It's got a lot of baby-boomer issues and concerns, like getting older." As in the show's predecessors, Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas, quick-change artists Sears and Williams portray every man, woman, child and farm animal in tiny Tuna. Red, White and Tuna had its world premiere back in April; a revival opens with performances at 8 tonight and Wednesday and continues through July 18. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (800) 821-1894, (409) 765-1894.
Ray Hill has crafted a cottage industry out of rabble-rousing, be it for gay rights, prison reform or the preservation of topless bars and smut stands. Ray Hill, the Prison Years, a revival of the one-man show by the burglar-turned-activist, includes Hill's thoughts about "prison life, the 'system' and [his] run-ins with Houston's finest." The final performance starts at 8 tonight. The Little Room Downstairs, 2326 Bissonnet, 523-0791. $10.