Punchface, No Vocab Man, the screaming black box that a little boy called "Daddy"... we've loved and laughed at all of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre's strange, sad, dark, violent and incredibly funny characters. Now the puppet-theater-for-semi-grownups is introducing us to Ivan the Fool, a pacifist tempted by Satan and caught between his combative brothers in a fight over family land. With Ivan the Fool, Bobbindoctrin moves from 20-minute gags in its portable puppet stage to an evening-length puppet play in the "black box" theater at DiverseWorks Art Space. It's rumored that the puppets will even share the stage with actors. We can only hope the humans won't hamper Bobbindoctrin's trademark use of explosives. Tonight through Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m. Also, Thursday, March 18, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 20, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Frwy., (713)228-0914. $12; $10, students and seniors.
Dave Hoover is a lion tamer with odd theories about the mental processes of wild animals. Ray Mendez is an expert on hairless African mole rats: creatures that can gnaw through concrete and live in a complex society like that of bees. Rodney Brooks is an MIT scientist who creates lifelike robots that can crawl like bugs without human instruction or control. And George Mendonca is a topiary gardener who shapes bushes and trees into bears and giraffes. What do they have in common (besides strange animal-related obsessions)? They all caught the bizarre eye of documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (of Thin Blue Line and Brief History of Time fame). With the help of Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (who has shot almost all of Oliver Stone's films), Flynn has juxtaposed these characters in the absurdly beautiful Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. Tonight and next Friday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Rice University Media Center. Rice University entrance no. 8 (off University Blvd.). $5.
Steven Brinberg "channels" Barbra Streisand -- vocally and visually. It all happened when he read a Playboy interview in which his heroine said of her imitators, "I wish people would do me better." Brinberg definitely does her better. Reviews raved about his sarcastic but affectionate drag show at New York's Don't Tell Mama Cabaret; Brinberg's musical mimicry came complete with breathy vocal inflections and nervous mannerisms like flicking hair from his/her face. Now he's bringing Simply Barbra to Theater LaB Houston's fundraiser, "The LaB Chat Cabaret Party." Doors open at 8:30 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m. Ensemble Theatre Ballroom, 3500 Fannin. Call (713)868-7516 for tickets, $50.
It's highly unlikely that -- living in Houston -- you'll ever happen upon a stranded dolphin. But wouldn't it be cool to know what to do if you did? Just in case, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network's Dolphin Rescue Team is offering a workshop on Flipper first aid. You can even find out how to join their cause. After all, TMMSN needs all the help it can get: The rehabilitation of a stranded 50-pound youngster named Gilly required hundreds of volunteers to bottle-feed him every two hours for three weeks. 2 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 1029 W. Bay Area Blvd., Webster, (281)554-8224. Free.
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Monteverdi's rarely performed opera Orfeo was composed for the Italian carnivale season of 1607, but it's not a very festive story. Orfeo chases his recently deceased bride-to-be Euridice across the River Styx in an attempt to retrieve her from Hades. There, Pluto and his wife Prosperina grant Orfeo's request to bring Euridice back to Earth, on one condition: Orfeo must not look at her until the journey's end. Does he succeed? Come on, it's opera. The Houston Opera Studio's last performance of Orfeo is at 2:30 p.m. today. Also, Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, at 8 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. Call (713)227-ARTS for tickets, $8-$65.
Jane Chambers originally wrote A Late Snow as a screenplay, but an agent advised against it. "Nobody's going to buy a movie script about lesbians," he told her. Chambers didn't get it. "Why not?" she asked. "They're doing The Boys in the Band." The agent's response: "Fags are funny, dykes are gloomy." Little did he know. Snow was rewritten for the stage and premiered in New York at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in 1974. Twenty-five years later it's still being produced across the country by regional theaters such as the Little Room Downstairs. Could there be a movie-version in its future? Snow opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Little Room Downstairs Theater, 2326 Bissonnet. Performances continue Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. through March 27. Call (713)523-0791 for tickets, $15.
If you're ready to start collecting art but aren't ready to be in the typical art collector's tax bracket, auctions are the way to go. The Houston Center for Photography's Live Print Auction at Gremillion & Co. costs only $25 to get in, and, while some of the photographs will rake in thousands of dollars for HCP, many will go for only a hundred or so. Even if you don't buy, you can still crash the collector crowd and check out works by such nationally known photographers as Keith Carter, MANUAL, George Krause, William Wegman, Joyce Tenneson and George Tice. Preview party starts at 6 p.m.; auction is 7-9 p.m. Gremillion & Co., 2501 Sunset. Call (713)529-4755 for reservations. $25.
Your mission: Drink as much green beer as possible. Here's how: Skip work and head to Griff's, 3416 Roseland, when it opens its doors at 10 a.m. Start off with an Irish coffee if you're not quite ready for food-colored beer. At 11:30 a.m., take the special Metro shuttle downtown to Fish Plaza, 500 Texas, for lunch at the St. Patrick's Day Irish Street Festival food booths. Get bussed back to Griff's for more green beer and two stages of live music around 3 p.m. But don't get too attached to your barstool, because at 7 p.m. the First Annual Downtown Parade of Lights -- complete with marching bands, floats, local celebrities, Houston's St. Patrick's Day Queen and, of course, green beer -- will begin to wind its way through the theater district. Next, take a cab over to Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, to drink more green beer and catch the end of its headlining act, the Makem Brothers, an internationally recognized third-generation Irish folk band. Don't despair when midnight calls an end to the day and the concerts. Good old Griff's operates on bar time, not real time. St. Patrick's Day doesn't officially end until 2 a.m. The question is: Will you still be standing?