- - Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pick of the Pack

Theater: ‘The Language Archive’

Julia Cho’s “The Language Archive” uses a trope familiar to America’s professional class: The expert whose expertise ends the minute he walks through his own front door. Much like the twice-divorced psychologist, the nicotine-addicted doctor and the self-made millionaire who gets audited for tax evasion, “The Language Archive’s” protagonist is a master linguist and student of dying languages who can’t communicate with his wife. The frustration doesn’t end there. George also has trouble communicating with his research assistant, and with getting two speakers of a dying language to communicate with each other. In aggregate, the play’s intertwining plot seems fantastic, and yet, even the incommunicado speakers of a dying language have a real-world parallel. Indiana University linguist Daniel Suslak made news in 2011 when he discovered the last two living speakers of an indigenous Mexican language, Ayapaneco. Sadly, Manuel Segovia, age 75, and Isidro Velazquez, age 69, refused to speak to each other on the grounds that neither much enjoyed the other’s company.

Through March 10 at Round House Theatre Bethesda, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Md.

Phone: 240/644-1100

Web: www.roundhousetheatre.org

Film: Nicholas Ray Retrospective

Between 1949, when he debuted with the “Bonnie and Clyde”-like “They Live by Night,” and 1971, when he made his last and most undefinable film, the pseudodocumentary “We Can’t Go Home Again,” Nicholas Ray made every type of movie: Westerns (“Johnny Guitar” and “The Lusty Men”), suburban dramas (“Bigger Than Life”), historical treatments (“King of Kings”), and dark whodunits (“On Dangerous Ground”). Despite his contributions to the art of cinema, Ray’s most famous film — “Rebel Without a Cause” — is best remembered not for its director, but as the vehicle that made James Dean a household name. While “Rebel” bronzed Ray’s legacy, it’s just one tiny piece of a rich and haunting oeuvre.

Through April 12 at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Md.

Phone: 301/495-6700

Web: www.afi.com

For Kids: Amphibian and Reptile Day

The dullness of adulthood is best summarized by Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” For many people, one indicator of maturation is that our fascination with slimy, scaly critters gives way to revulsion. The National Aquarium’s Amphibian and Reptile Day, then, is not just a chance for children to see snakes, lizards and crocs up close, but also for adults to rediscover the wonder of the animal kingdom. Aquarium experts will be on hand to show off a rare albino alligator and baby loggerhead sea turtles, as well as a “bug buffet.” But don’t worry: The latter is for the critters, not the people.

Feb. 25 at the National Aquarium, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW

Phone: 202/482-2825

Web: www.nationalaquarium.org

Author Talk: Nonie Darwish

It’s hard not to be supportive of what once was called “Arab Spring.” In much of the Muslim world, political “leaders” are ruthless despots and iron-fisted autocrats. And yet, when they fall, whether through popular revolt (as in the case of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt) or Western-assisted civil war (as in the case of Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya), what follows next is not necessarily better. Egypt currently is under military rule, and Libya is on the precipice of tribal anarchy. While the vile Syrian regime could be the next to fall, the fact that al Qaeda has expressed interest in helping dissidents fight President Bashar Assad doesn’t exactly bode well for the country’s future. Egypt-born author and human rights advocate Nonie Darwish addresses these concerns in “The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East,” which she discusses at the Heritage Foundation.

Feb. 29 at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE

Phone: 202/675-1761

Web: www.heritage.org

Theater: ‘How Old Is a Hero?’

Almost a year before Rosa Parks made national news by refusing to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, a black teenage girl named Claudette Colvin was arrested for the same. It was, in fact, Ms. Colvin’s case that ended racial segregation on Alabama buses. Why does Parks get all the credit? Because Ms. Colvin gave birth to a child out of wedlock. In 2009, the New York Times recovered Ms. Colvin, who then was “living unheralded in the Bronx,” from the dustbin of history. The inspiration for “How Old Is a Hero?” comes from a book about Ms. Colvin, titled “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.” Shortly after the book came out, Ms. Colvin told the Times, “Maybe by telling my story — something I was afraid to do for a long time — kids will have a better understanding about what the civil rights movement was about.”

Feb. 24 at the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW

Phone: 202/633-8700

Web: www.discoverytheater.org

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