The Weekly Wire: The Week’s Notable Events

Sawdust Mountain survivor Juan Abalos near the Hoh River.


Theater: Transatlantic Battle

British playwright Peter Morgan does what he must to magnify the entertainment value of history. In 2006, he debuted three dramas about stumbling leaders: two screenplays, The Last King of Scotland and The Queen, and the stage play Frost/Nixon. The latter, recently adapted to film, relates how English TV host David Frost took a huge financial and career gamble to interview the disgraced former president. The gamble paid off: Frost recouped his investment by syndicating the famous 1977 broadcasts, and historians could debate whether in fact Tricky Dick had confessed his crimes or not. In this touring production of the play (running through Sunday), Stacy Keach plays Nixon opposite Alan Cox‘s Frost. It’s a psychological prizefight between a friendly, breezy “people guy” and the brooding, fallen politician. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 467-5510, $18–$60. 7:30 p.m. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Photography: Still in the City

Cities and their inhabitants are at rest in black-and-white prints by Eduardo Calderón (on view through May 31). The Peruvian-born local photographer, shooting from Seattle to Paris and beyond, favors relaxed scenes: a cat staring implacably out a window; a man, dressed in a neat suit, lying on the cobblestones for a nap next to the Seine; bolts of cloth draped for display that somehow suggest women in burkas. Store windows reflect further images of urban repose, doubling the languor. Elsewhere Calderón frames stairwells, arches, rooftops, brick walls, and shadowy lattices whose forms multiply by geometric progression. In one image recalling Cartier-Bresson, a Parisian woman thumbs out a text message beside a Lanvin shop window, her head obscured by a tree. She’s in no hurry to lose her privacy. Francine Seders Gallery, 6701 Greenwood Ave. N., 782-0355, Free. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Books/Photography: Cleared and Cut

Raised in Seattle and a UW grad, photographer Eirik Johnson today teaches in Boston and is known for collections including Borderlands, about the neglected, forgotten, trash-strewn fringes of the city. His new Sawdust Mountain (Aperture, $50) chronicles the decline of the timber industry—or rather, its bleak aftermath—back here in the Northwest. In this exhibit of selections from the book, on view through May 30, we see the depopulated, clear-cut remnants of our region’s century-long logging boom. There are no towering Doug firs or heroic woodsmen left, no quaint images like those of frontier photographer Darius Kinsey (whom Johnson acknowledges as an influence). Along the Sauk and Columbia rivers, over on the Olympic Peninsula, old-growth timber has been replaced by weedy, fast-growing breeds, bioengineered for swift harvest. The mills are closed and jobs are scarce. Empty buildings are used for flea markets, or to sell Star Wars memorabilia; most of the young people have moved to the city. Yet at the same time, natural habitats are being restored and dams removed (including that on the Elwha River, after years of litigation). Johnson’s Sawdust Nation isn’t post-apocalyptic but post-industrial, since logging (like fishing) will never return to its old scale. His images are depressing but not hopeless. The landscape may not be poised for recovery, but it’s ready for the next uncertain thing—new uses, though surely with fewer users. Johnson portrays those who remain with stoic, mossy fortitude. (He will also appear at Elliott Bay Book Co. at 2 p.m. Sat. with Tess Gallagher, who contributed an essay to the book; and his work will be featured at the Henry Art Gallery in October.) G. Gibson Gallery, 300 S. Washington St., 587-4033, Free. Artist reception 6 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Theater: Gays in Space!

Dustin Engstrom‘s newest work, The Center of the Universe, is a sci-fi romance. As most Seattleites know, the center of the universe lies in Fremont, a neighborhood Michael (Dylan Sladky) generally avoids out of disdain for anywhere that isn’t Capitol Hill. Michael is a homo-hipster with a strongly cultivated cynical outlook that may one day turn into a sense of humor. His best friend is Beth (Jesica Avellone), a lesbian who finds the term “lesbian” debasing. They’re bonded together by a shared narcissism and by the fact that their romantic partners have recently disappeared. Their search for love leads them on an adventure through time and space—though mostly they end up in Greenwich, England. The play’s mystery elements are stronger than its comic ones, and certain moments lend themselves more to the screen than the stage. But on the whole, Engstrom’s script is admirably structured. (Thurs.–Sun. through May 23.) Open Circle Theater, 2222 Second Ave., 382-4250, $15. 7:30 p.m. BRENT ARONOWITZ


Film: Driver and Destination

As William, a taciturn senior who seems to be planning for his final days, veteran character actor Red West takes center stage in Goodbye Solo, the third feature co-written and directed by Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop), who at 34 has quietly emerged as one of the major figures in American independent film. What’s consistently remarkable about Bahrani’s work is his steadfast refusal to peddle cheap sentiment, or to mine for hope where there is none to be found. And while all of his films to date have dealt with entrepreneurial endeavors, it is not riches that Bahrani’s ragged protagonists seek, but merely a finer quality of rags. In Goodbye Solo (through Thursday), the small-scale social climber is the title character (excellent newcomer Souléymane Sy Savané), a Senegalese-born taxi driver who cruises the streets of Winston-Salem, N.C. When Solo gives William a ride, he’s perplexed by the elder man’s request to pick him up again at a date in the near future and deposit him at the top of a local mountain—no questions asked. The more Solo pries, the more William retreats. Yet a profound if fragile bond forms between the two men. The revelation of the film is West, who, in his first leading role, seems like an old buffalo nickel uncovered from the recesses of a dusty bureau, its worth derived not from its assigned value but from the places it’s been and the hands it’s passed through. (91 minutes, not rated.) Varsity, 4329 University Way N.E., 781-5755, $10. Call for showtimes. SCOTT FOUNDAS


Festivals: Hello, Sailor!

When tourists crowd Pike Place Market each summer, I inevitably end up cursing the throngs dazedly wandering the cobbles like they own the place. (Hey, why don’t you stop in the middle of a crowded sidewalk to take a picture or consult your map?) The Seattle Maritime Festival isn’t going to help. Today’s activities begin with a chowder cook-off that runs all day at eight waterfront restaurants, including Ivar’s, the Crab Pot, and Elliott’s Oyster House. Get all-you-can-chow for a $5 “chowder passport.” There’s also a survival-suit race (you know, those orange inflatable getups they wear on Deadliest Catch) in the Bell Harbor Marina at 11 a.m. But the main attraction is the tugboat racing between Pier 59 and Myrtle Edwards Park (noon to 3 p.m.). Between heats, the Coast Guard will present a helicopter rescue demonstration. Other family-friendly activities include tours of various vessels, one owned by the Canadian Navy. I love chowder. And I love a Canadian in a uniform. So I guess I’ll have to be a little more patient with those tourists. Even the ones riding the Duck. Pier 66, 728-3163, Free. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. SUZIE RUGH

Classical: Happy Deathday to You

Composer anniversaries, which the classical-music world never tires of observing, are often just an excuse for ensembles to perform music they would have performed anyway. (The really big kahunas get both their birth and death celebrated every 50 years.) But two local choirs are going all out this weekend with a pair of oratorios that represent their composers’ grandest expressions of religious feeling. To honor Felix Mendelssohn (born Feb. 3, 1809), Seattle Pro Musica, under Karen P. Thomas, is performing his vast and rousing Elijah (1846). The story of the Biblical prophet retains not a little contemporary resonance, given its themes of religious conflict and crusading belief. (God vs. Baal—guess Who wins?) The God of Joseph Haydn (died May 31, 1809) was a considerably more benign deity, and Master Chorus Eastside is staging his 1798 The Creation, a picturesque tour through His seven days of handiwork, with instrumentally depicted details from the origin of light to the creeping of the worm. “To match Haydn’s sense of play,” says MCE director Linda Gingrich, the work is being semi-staged with special lighting, blocking, and set pieces representing mountains, animals, and such. (The soloists singing Adam and Eve may or may not appear authentically costumed.) Elijah: St. James Cathedral, Ninth Avenue and Marion Street, 781-2766, $25–$32. 8 p.m. (Also 8:15 p.m. Fri., May 8.)

Creation: Eastlake Performing Arts Center, 400 228th Ave. N.E., Sammamish, 425-392-8446, $9–$18. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT


Festivals: Feed the Caterpillar

Formerly known as the Seattle International Children’s Festival, Giant Magnet is a great recession-era staycation alternative to flying your kids someplace expensive, distant, and exotic (and possibly getting yourselves afflicted with swine flu). Instead, the world comes to you via separately scheduled performances of international art, music, and dance (through Sat., May 16). You can get a little closer to Zimbabwe through the music of Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, or experience Japanese dance and storytelling with Kuniko Yamamoto. Seattle favorites Hacki & Co. offer German clown antics. Even Canada is represented: Performances begin this morning with the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia‘s stage version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Bagley Wright Theatre (recommended for ages 4 and up). No passport required. Seattle Center, 800-838-3006, $10. 10 a.m. KASSIOPIA RODGERS