CLASSICAL MUSIC

PIANIST PETER SERKIN, now fully and truly out of his father Rudolf's shadow, is casting a long shadow of his own. Highly regarded as a performer of contemporary music, he is also establishing a major reputation for laserlike perception and intelligence in the mainstream repertoire. Next weekend brings performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Serkin's entree is the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, which could well be worth a road trip.

--Philip Kennicott

At Meyerhoff Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. $22-$57. 410-783-8110.

THEATER

SIGNATURE THEATRE AND WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY will host free readings from a string of plays-in-progress over the next three days. At Signature, Heather McDonald will direct a reading of "Angels Lie," a family drama by John Kim. Woolly's roster features a selection of plays by members of its ongoing play-writing workshop, PlayGround. Works include "TheHeimlich Maneuver" by Karen Zacarias and Otho Eskin's "The Red Queen." The readings will be facilitated by Robert Alexander, Woolly's playwright-in-residence.

--Nicole Lewis

The Signature reading takes place Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, 3806 N. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington. Free. 703-820-9771. Woolly readings take place today at the Source Theatre Company, 1835 14th St. NW. 6:30 to 9:45 p.m. Monday and Tuesday readings take place at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 1401 Church St. NW. Monday, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, 6 to 9:15 p.m. Free, but reservations are required by calling Woolly Mammoth at 202-393-3939, Ext. 525. Box office opens one hour prior to each event. For a complete schedule of readings, call the theater.

FILM

WASHINGTON'S NINTH GAY AND LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL continues with today's screening of "The Best of the Fest," a perennial favorite of Reel Affirmations audiences. Culled from an abundance of short-film submissions, the six mini-features explore family, marriage and monogamy, child-rearing and sex. Also on the marquee: Donna Deitch's 1986 "Desert Hearts," a lesbian romance set in '50s Nevada; Kieran Turner's "24 Nights," a twisted date movie; and Ernest Dickerson's "Blind Faith," a thriller about embattled love at the dawn of the civil rights era. The festival continues through Oct. 24.

--Rita Kempley

"Best of the Fest" will be screened at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Today at 7 p.m. $8. 1-800-494-TIXS. For a complete schedule, visit the Web site, www.reelaffirmations.org, or call 202-986-1119.

ART

THERE ARE NO VINCENT VAN GOGHS in "Laren, an Artists' Colony, Dutch Paintings From the Singer Museum" at the Federal Reserve Board Building, but the show does help explain how he came to pick the humble subjects of his art. He was following a trend. In the last years of the last century artists of all sorts were painting scenes of peasant life, pious, primitive and pure. Parisians found such subjects in Brittany and Normandy, Americans in Taos. Dutch artists went to the village of Laren, where living was artistic, cheap and picturesque. One was Anton Mauve (whose wife was van Gogh's cousin). Laren offered the same atmosphere--humble folk in wooden shoes, thatched roofs, haystacks, sheep--one sees in van Gogh's pictures. Laren is between Scandinavia and Paris, and the gray skies of the former and the impressionist brushwork of the latter appear in Laren's art. Another Laren painter was the Pittsburgh-born expatriate William H. Singer Jr. (1868-1943), whose widow, Anna, founded the Singer Museum in Laren from which these 25 paintings come. The show evokes the earnest internationalism of turn-of-the-century art.

--Paul Richard

At the Federal Reserve Board Building, C Street between 20th and 21st streets NW. Through Dec. 3. Free but hours are limited. It is open to the public Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 202-452-3686.

POP MUSIC

THE 13TH THELONIOUS MONK INTERNATIONAL JAZZ COMPETITION--piano is the instrument this year--serves up its finals tonight at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. The competition, with a grand prize scholarship of $20,000, will be followed by the annual concert gala featuring such stellar performers as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez, Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, Arturo Sandoval, Dianne Reeves, Grover Washington Jr. and Stevie Wonder. This year's concert will honor pianist-composers Monk, Hancock, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington (the entire event will be filmed for "BET Jazz").

--Richard Harrington

At the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. 202-357-3030.

DANCE

SUZANNE FARRELL MADE AN INDELIBLE MARK as a ballerina of matchless speed, courage and musicality. Since leaving the New York City Ballet she has likewise excelled as a ballet master, teaching works created for her and others by the incomparable George Balanchine. This week Farrell presents two programs of short ballets by Balanchine as well as one work apiece by Jerome Robbins and Maurice Bejart, performed by a select group of dancers. Included are "Apollo," "Tzigane" and "Meditation," the female role in which no other dancer but Farrell has danced, until now.

--Sarah Kaufman

At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and next Sunday at 1:30 p.m. $25. 202-467-4600.