HERE & NOW

Sunday, February 12, 2006

FILM

SO YOU CONSIDER Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley swoon-worthy? Wait till you see a real beauty. Born in the 1890s (her birth date was a matter of debate), Lillian Gish was one of the first heartbreakers of the cinema. After director D.W. Griffith signed her up for the movies (along with younger sister Dorothy) in 1912, she acted for 75 more years. It was 1919's "Broken Blossoms" that truly drew attention to Gish's acting skills: Only in her early twenties, she was convincing and touching as a teenage London waif whose affair with a Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) leads her into trouble with her bigoted, murderous father (Donald Crisp). Beyond Gish's peach-blossom face and fine performance, the film marked one of Griffith's greatest works, free of the virulent racism of "Birth of a Nation" and the grandiosity of "Intolerance," both of which also starred Gish. Although white actor Barthelmess played an Asian whose onscreen name was Yellow Man, "Broken Blossoms" was a surprisingly heartfelt call for cultural tolerance. One more reason to go: live musical accompaniment from Burnett Thompson.

-- Desson Thomson

At the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. Friday at 7 p.m. Free. Tickets are distributed at the auditorium at 6 p.m. Two per person. Call 202-633-4880 or visithttp://www.asia.si.edu/events/films.asp.

POP MUSIC

THE FIRST ROUND of "American Idol" auditions has come to a close, and frankly, the thrill is gone. All the weirdos have been sent packing, leaving us with a gaggle of aspiring pop stars who can actually carry a tune. Blah. If you're still jonesing for the hard stuff -- the shrieking, the squeaking, the complete lack of shame -- lend your masochistic ears to Baltimore oddball Dan Deacon. He sings his juvenile, potty-mouth tunes in a sweet-and-sour voice that would make Simon shudder and the Dead Milkmen beam with pride. Take two aspirin and wear your dancing shoes: Deacon's herky-jerky take on Jean Knight's soul classic "Mr. Big Stuff" is enough to make you squirm so much, it might feel like dancing.

-- Chris Richards

At Warehouse Next Door, 1017 Seventh St. NW. Thursday at 8:30. $7. Call 202-783-3933 or visithttp://www.warehousenextdoor.com.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

AS THE FIRST executive director of the Kennedy Center and longtime general manager of the Washington Opera, the late Martin Feinstein had a profound effect on cultural life in the capital area. Tomorrow morning at 11:30, the Kennedy Center is paying tribute to Feinstein, who died last Sunday at the age of 84. The program was still being assembled as of press time, but some of the artists mentioned as possible participants are soprano Denyce Graves and conductor Lorin Maazel, along with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Quartet and Washington Opera Young Performers.

-- Tim Page

At the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. Monday at 11:30 a.m. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visithttp://www.kennedy-center.org.

ART

IN THE NORMAL SCHEME of things, gold's not very useful. It's no good for warmth or shelter or sustenance. But there's not a culture, in the world that has it, that doesn't want as much as it can get. All the varied cultures of Asia are no exception. "Gold: The Asian Touch" is a small show of golden objects from the collections of the Smithsonian's Sackler and Freer galleries, which together make up our national museum of Asian art. The exhibition, now in its last week, demonstrates all the wonderful, and wonderfully different, kinds of things an artist can make from the precious metal. And it demonstrates quite clearly why it's always been in such demand.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. Through Feb. 19. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free. Call 202-633-4880 or visithttp://www.asia.si.edu.

THEATER

ARENA STAGE IS looking for a few good campers. After a successful launch last summer, the theater is reviving Camp Arena Stage at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School from July 10 to Aug. 4. Registration is open for the program, introducing children ages 8 to 15 to various arts activities, from theater to dance to music.

-- Peter Marks

For more information, call 202-554-9066, Ext. 808, or visithttp://www.arenastage.org.

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