SILENT MOVIES WERE rarely, well, silent. Even though the characters "spoke" only by means of intertitles, their actions were accompanied by live music performed in the theater by a lone piano player, a full-scale orchestra or something in between.
You can enjoy that live, interactive experience at next Saturday's 7 p.m. screening at AFI Silver Theatre of the 1922 vampire classic "Nosferatu" (it repeats Monday at 9 p.m.). F.W. Murnau's movie is extraordinary for its eerie images, visual innovation and creepy performance by Max Schreck as the vampire. While Schreck gazes with hungry longing at human necks, you'll hear a score performed by the musical duo Silent Orchestra. Don't let the small number of players fool you: Carlos Garza on keyboards and Rich O'Meara on vibraphones, electronic samples, cymbals and gongs will fill the auditorium so you can party like it's 1922.
-- Desson Thomson
At AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd. Saturday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 9 p.m. $20. Call 301-495-6720 or visit www.afi.com/silver. For more information about the music group, visit www.silentorchestra.com, where there's an MP3 sample of highlights of its "Nosferatu" score.
SOCIAL COMMENTARY alternates with abstract compositions in "Hot Talas, Cool Ragas," a program performed by Mallika Sarabhai and her company, Darpana. Saturday's program centers on women's experiences in mental asylums and the recent riots in Bombay. Sarabhai -- one of India's leading dancers and named among the "1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005" for her work pursuing social justice through the arts -- performs here as part of a two-night flurry of Indian dance presented by Washington's Daniel Phoenix Singh. His company, Dakshina, will perform Friday, along with regional Indian dance presentations from troupes Nrityanjali and Kuchipudi Kalanidhi.
-- Sarah Kaufman
At Tawes Theater, University of Maryland, College Park. Friday (Dakshina) and Saturday (Mallika Sarabhai) at 8 p.m. $32 ($22 students), plus $1 facility fee. For more information call 301-405-2787 or visit www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.
JENNY HOLZER, an art world veteran who has won virtually every kind of honor and award, makes art that's built around words. She's used scrolling banks of LEDs to send messages that are both cryptic and strangely telling. Other oracular aphorisms by Holzer have been carved into granite benches or printed on T-shirts. Last year she was in Washington to present a new body of work in which she projects once-secret documents across building facades. She's back here Wednesday for a lecture at the Corcoran. This time the words will issue from her mouth, rather than her art. But she's known for being as eloquent with one as with the other.
-- Blake Gopnik
At the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW. Wednesday at 7 p.m. $30 ($25 for members). For more information call 202-639-1700 or visit www.corcoran.org.
THE INDIE-FOLK TROUBADOUR Richard Buckner is a master of poetic melancholia, performing gorgeous if dolorous songs in a low, ragged rumble of a voice that seems to split the difference between Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen. On his most recent album, 2004's "Dents and Shells," Buckner -- who performs Thursday at Iota -- underscores his lachrymose lyrics with some pedal-steel guitar lines, the very sound of heartbreak. The result is arresting. It also suggests that the ghost of the great Townes Van Zandt rides, indeed.
-- J. Freedom du Lac
At Iota Club & Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Thursday at 9 p.m. $12. Call 703-522-8340 or visit www.iotaclubandcafe.com.