Arts Picks

FRIDAY

STAGE

1984

You're not alone if you think Big Brother is bigger than ever. George Orwell's vision of the future couldn't be more prophetic than in the current climate of Ashcroftian surveillance and reality TV, a fact that hasn't escaped anyone involved in this new multimedia staging of the iconic novel. This is the kind of eclectic, ambitious project that makes you glad the Empty Space is still around: Director Allison Narver is utilizing live actors (including David Pichette, Tessa Auberjonois, and Adrian LaTourelle, pictured left to right), stock footage, and the videography of local filmmaker Web Crowell. The book has been adapted by playwright Wayne Rawley, the Money & Run late-night wunderkind whose updated tweak on The Seagull last season proved he's capable of pushing his talents to ever greater heights. With this team of artists going for broke, chances are good the company will earn our allegianceCode Orange or no Code Orange. Previews begin Fri., Jan. 23. 7:30 p.m. Sun. and Tues.-Thurs.; 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees Sat.-Sun. Runs Wed., Jan. 28-Sat., Feb. 28. $10-$40. Empty Space Theatre, 3509 Fremont Ave. N., 206-547-7500. STEVE WIECKING

WEDNESDAY

STAGE

KING LEAR

You can't blame Kurt Beattie (pictured) if he looks a bit spooked. Not only is he busy overseeing ACT Theatre's methodical climb out of financial ruin, but now he's taken on the role in perhaps the greatest play ever written in the English language. (Maybe as ACT's artistic director, he understands the whole beleaguered monarch thing.) He's back in front of the footlights for the reliably inventive Seattle Shakespeare Company, which has trimmed the tragedy down to two and a half hours and promises that Beattie will hold us rapt. Whatever the results, you've got to admire the guy's willingness to be uneasy wearing crowns. Previews Wed., Jan. 21. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. Thurs., Jan. 22-Sun., Feb. 15. $18-$24. Center House Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-733-8222. STEVE WIECKING

THURSDAY

DANCE

MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP

Mark Morris is sublimely influenced by music. Whether showing us the poignancy in a pop song or the underlying chaos in a classical chestnut, his dances are both intimately wedded to their scores and deadeye commentaries on them: Grand Duo reflects the mysterious power of Lou Harrison's piece for violin and piano in a series of potent ambiguous gestures; A Spell, to the 17th-century ballads of John Wilson, is a whimsical evocation of songs like "Take, O Take Those Lips Away." His newest work, All Fours (pictured), is set to Bela Bartok's String Quartet No. 4 and matches its austere and visceral power. 8 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 22-Sat., Jan. 24. $40. Meany Theater, University of Washington, 206-543-4880. SANDRA KURTZ

FRIDAY

MUSIC

FOURTHCITY LAPTOP

MUSIC BATTLE: PORTLAND VS. SEATTLE

Attending a live laptop performance can be a little like pulling up a lawn chair to watch someone in the process of suntanning, but the Fourthcity Laptop Battle will likely be an exception. Pulling sound sources from the ether and/or their hard drives, tweaking them in real time, and creating (hopefully) original music on the spot, Seattle 'toppers (Firestorm Viper, Absolute Madman, Umami, Danger Dave, Sporadik, Nogunri, Misha, Tom Chi, Logic Probe, Nordic Soul, Zapan, and Kris Moon) and Portland's (Bllix, Deceptikon, Vo1d, Bitmarch, Glomm, Dampkrane, Dizzystar House, and Waterdog) should turn out a crinkly, head-turning, and fascinating demonstration of the PNW's IDM prowess. 9 p.m. Fri., Jan. 23. $10. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 206-324-8000. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

WEDNESDAY

BOOKS

AZAR NAFISI

New in paper, Zar Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran (Random House, $13.95), describes 18 years living under Iran's strict theocracy. A Western-educated academic (now at Johns Hopkins), Nafisi returned to Iran in 1979 full of idealism about teaching in a regime freed from the shah. What she found instead, as the screws of Islamic repression were tightened, was a "perverse intimacy of victim and jailor" that she repeatedly compares to Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading. Apart from the clandestine book club she forms, Reading is strongest in Nafisi's writing about her creation of an "other self" to endure the daily indignities of the veil, pat-down searches, censorship, and worse. Noon Wed., Jan. 28. Free. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 206-624-6600. 7 p.m. Wed., Jan. 28, United Methodist Church, 1415 N.E. 43rd St., 206-634-3400 (free tickets required in advance from University Book Store). BRIAN MILLER

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