Press Picks

february 17
Black History in the Making Proper educational programs emphasize the blues, jazz and gospel -- which are all well and good, and important aspects of African-American culture, but not by any means the be-all end-all of African-American self-expression. Throughout Black History Month and the rest of the year, the rich tradition of black comedy is shamefully neglected. The Hip-Hop Comedy Stop has Apollo Night, named in homage to the Harlem club's long and glorious tradition, for local amateurs every Thursday night. Club owner Rushion McDonald hosts, and the audience is in charge of quality control. Apollo Night is not the typical cookie-cutter comedy-club scene -- people don't file in and sit politely while some hack who's been on the A&E Channel does a tired old set. (And, since this Picks page is not mentioning any of the wonderful Black History Month programs sponsored by the Houston Public Library this week, let us point out that Redd Foxx's Encyclopedia of Black Humor; the Encyclopedia of Black Folklore and Humor, compiled by Henry D. Spalding; and On the Real Side Laughing, Lying, and Signifying: The Underground Tradition of African-American Humor, by Mel Watkins, can be checked out by anyone, any old time.) Apollo Night, 8:30 p.m., Hip-Hop Comedy Stop, 4816 Main, 437-8444. $7, $1.02 for the first 20 people through the door.

february 18
The Colored Section This new play by Thomas Meloncon, author of The Diary of Black Men, Whatever Happened to Black Love and From Africa to the Third Ward, is a premiere production at Houston Community College's Theater One. His latest drama, set in an innocuous barbecue restaurant in Huntsville circa 1948, cunningly dissects the absurdities of segregation. The proprietor has done all right, in his own quiet way, even though his establishment is frequented by the KKK. His granddaughter, Angel, arrives from New York with her own loud and proud ideas about what rights you need to do all right, and dramatic tension is established. 8 p.m. (Shows Thu.-Sat., Feb. 17-26; Sun., Feb. 27, 2:30 p.m.) Central's Theater One, 3517 Austin, 630-1138. $3, $5.

Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass Actor Fred Morsell has appeared on Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and General Hospital. Morsell has also toured the country performing Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass in elementary, middle and high school auditoriums. His one-man, two-act play -- a dramatic re-creation of the abolitionist's speech "The Lesson of the Hour" -- was taped for PBS and will be shown tonight on broadcast television. 8 p.m. Channel 8.

february 19
lovve/rituals & rage Barbara Jordan would not approve of the spelling used by the root wy'mn theater company. But she might be taken by their fierce performance of lovve/rituals & rage. Sharon Bridgforth's poetry-play is the story of one woman's soul -- four performers dance and sing the journey of this soul. K. Anoa Monsho's choreography enriches Bridgforth's free verse that describes the daily life of an African woman 500 years ago, and urban life in the last decade. lovve/ rituals & rage is co-sponsored by the Houston Community College System Black Student Union, Student Government Association, Sister Art Network and DiverseWorks. (Also Fri., Feb. 18.) 8 p.m. Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin, 630-1138. $10, $5 students.

(To learn how and why root wy'mn structure their works exactly as they do -- and to tell your own stories in your own way -- attend a performance workshop at DiverseWorks. Noon-2 p.m., 1117 East Frwy., 223-8246. Free.)

february 20
Hope Shiver Portrays Harriet Tubman Young Audiences of Houston and Bayou Bend present the life of Harriet Tubman and the story of the Underground Railroad. Actress and singer Hope Shiver mixes spirituals and work songs into her one-woman show about one woman's courage and commitment to freeing fellow slaves. Pianist Ann Chadwick will accompany. Young Audiences of Houston is the local chapter of a national organization committed to enlightening and inspiring students through the arts. Performances at 2 & 3 p.m. Bayou Bend Museum, 1 Wescott Street, 520-2600. Free.

february 21
Folk Art on Display in Beaumont Collector Sally M. Griffiths, a connoisseur known across the country for her taste in the work of unknowns, has lent pieces by 20 artists for this show. These artists were not concerned with making art, and many were untrained. The pieces Griffiths treasures are the work of Hispanics, prison inmates, Native Americans, former doughnut-shop employees, geriatrics -- in short, just folks. Cardboard, found objects, wood and whatever else the artists had handy, or liked the looks of, are used effectively to create these very personal works. Thru April 10. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Art Museum of Southeast Texas, 500 Main Street, Beaumont, (409) 832-3442.

february 22
Edward Albee and Lorenzo Thomas Houston is currently home to these two important American writers, and the Margrett Root Brown Reading Series offers a chance to hear them read. University of Houston-Downtown instructor and poet Lorenzo Thomas' collections include Jambalaya, Chances Are Few and The Bathers. UH-D students know Thomas as an unfailingly polite, soft-spoken man and an inspiring teacher. According to the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomas is "one of the most broadly based and multifaceted writers of African descent in America today."

Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee, who teaches at the UH central campus in the spring, joins Thomas. Albee may read from some old thing like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or do a dramatization from a recent play like Fragments. 8 p.m. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $5 donation requested, free for seniors and students.

february 23
Okavango: Africa's Last Eden Naturalist and photographer Frans Lanting will lecture on Okavango, an isolated area in Botswana (formerly Upper Volta) that is the subject of his latest book. Lanting, an award-winning National Geographic photographer and 1991 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, has documented the exotic and endangered species of the region. He will share his experiences in Eden through a slide presentation. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance, since the combination of stunning photography and passionate speakers has made these little zoo talks so popular that they often sell out. Gate 5 will open at 6:30 p.m., and the lecture will begin at 7:30. Houston Zoological Gardens, 1513 Outer Belt Drive, 529-2632. $8, $6 members.


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