Michelle Ellsworth
Michelle Ellsworth
Courtesy of Michelle Ellsworth

Dressing the Part

At the risk of being hunted down by vengeful Scientologists (or -- gasp! -- Tom Cruise), we have to ask: If L. Ron Hubbard was so smart, why didn't he create problem-solving clothing? Wouldn't the world be better off with a fall line of Dianetics-inspired wool separates that, while keeping you warm and fashionable, solved your existential woes? Hubbard's ilk will never get the chance to trademark such apparel, as they've been beaten to the punch by performance artist Michelle Ellsworth, whom The New York Times called "smart, cute and profoundly irritating." In an effort to examine societal problems with materialism, politics and religion, Ellsworth created ED: The Word Made Dress. The kooky dance-theater-multimedia performance centers around Ellsworth's revelations on the human condition and her subsequent creation of ED, a 150-pound, pentagonal dress that tackles psychological, dietary and even democratic issues. In one scene, the lithe Ellsworth climbs into the dress, which, when suspended a certain way, represents her mother's uterus, from which she is symbolically reborn. As an accompaniment, Ellsworth also offers an "interactive monkey suit" -- called Monkey Saddle -- designed to save your soul. Try her act on for size at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 18 and 19. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For tickets and information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. $8 to $15. - Steven Devadanam

Blues Clues

It Ain't Nothin' ain't nothin' but a history lesson

Europeans love to brag about how classical music originated from and is defined by their continent. That's all well and good, but where do you suppose they got jazz, rock and blues? Oh, that's right: from us. This month, you can get a raucous education in the origin of the blues (wrapped in a Broadway musical) in It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. The Tony-nominated show is chock-full of African chants, Appalachian folk songs, slave spirituals and country tunes -- which combine to create the sticky-sweet, hurts-so-good American musical idiom we now know and love. Keep an ear out for gritty, sexy tunes like "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Sidewinder" performed by a capable local cast. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 18 and 19. Through February 27. Center for the Arts Main Stage Theatre, Cy-Fair College, 9191 Barker Cypress. For tickets and information, call 281-290-5273 or visit www.cy-faircollege.com. $5 to $16. - Steven Devadanam

Black Humor

SAT 2/19

Compared to his brief, vitriolic rants alongside Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, the cranky curmudgeon known as Lewis Black is even more frantic in his stand-up shows. Nobody uses the F-word with more theatrical flair than Black -- who combines the dry intellect of George Carlin with the unbridled gyrations of Joe "effin'" Pesci in GoodFellas -- as he delivers his stinging, hilarious takes on politics and life. Forget the color scheme for homeland security alerts, he suggests, and replace it with a much simpler system: "Jesus Christ!" "Goddamn It!" and "Fuck Me!" 8 p.m. Saturday, February 19. Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. For tickets, call 713-221-8883 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. $24.75 to $34.75. - Greg Barr

On the Attack

Call it dance for an attention-deficient age. The Pittsburgh-based troupe Attack Theatre blends narrative video, dance and live music in its performances. This weekend, artistic director Michele de la Reza returns to her native Houston to present Boxed In and The Fitting Room at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 18 and 19; and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, February 20. Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston. For a full schedule, call 713-529-1819 or visit www.barnevelder.org. $14 to $17. - Julia Ramey

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