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8 things to do in the D.C. area the week of Sept. 5-8

Woolly Mammoth debuts “The Arsonists,” featuring Howard Shalwitz, with pay-what-you-can previews on Tuesday and Wednesday night. (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company)

Tuesday, Sept. 5

'The Arsonists' at Woolly Mammoth Theatre: Swiss writer Max Frisch's absurdist play "The Arsonists" is a comedy, but it's a dark one. Originally staged in 1953, the satire grapples with the rise of Nazism and Communism. Now Woolly Mammoth brings the play's dissection of morality into the context of the political turmoil of 2017. Pay-what-you-can previews Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. Tickets will be released at the box office at 6 p.m. Through Oct. 8.

Taco Tuesday at the Red Derby: The Red Derby's tacos aren't fancy: ground beef or grilled chicken for the carnivores and black beans for vegetarians, tossed into soft-flour shells with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes, and served in a red plastic basket. On Tuesday nights, you'll pay $4.50 for three of them, and if you're at the bar before 8 p.m., you get $1 off canned beers — meaning Natty Bohs and Strohs are just $1. A full belly and a beer for less than $6 — exactly what you'd expect from one of the finest neighborhood bars in the city. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 6

District Improv Festival at Washington Improv Theater and Unified Scene Theater: The fifth-annual District Improv theater festival returns with long-form improv teams from across the United States and Canada. Chicago’s 3Peat headlines. Through Sept. 9. Showtimes vary. Free-$25. 

Taste of Oregon at Roofers Union: 10 wineries from the Yamhill Carlton District, a designated appellation in Oregon's Willamette Valley, are visiting Roofers Union for a guided tasting focusing on pinot noir and a small selection of other varietals. Tickets include wine and snacks. 6 to 8 p.m. $45.

Thursday, Sept. 7

Zoo Uncorked at the National Zoo: The National Zoo’s annual wine-focused fundraiser — formerly and more cleverly known as “Grapes With the Apes” — brings more than a dozen wineries and distributors to the zoo. Beyond tasting and purchasing wines, visitors can take in after-hours tours of exhibits, listen to live music and browse paintings created by local artists. VIP tickets add extra wine and food tastings and “special animal encounters.” 6 to 9 p.m. $70; VIP $115.

Opening night of the D.C. Shorts Film Festival: Think of this as the “tapas platter” of film festivals — at least that’s how D.C. Shorts puts it. Each 90-minute showcase is packed with mini-movies of all sorts of genres, with some clocking in at just two minutes. This year’s festival includes more than 170 shorts from filmmakers in Washington and around the world. Listen to Q&A sessions with filmmakers during opening weekend or sneak out from work for free lunchtime films. Various times and locations. $13.60 for showcase general admission.

Japanese Breakfast at the Black Cat: Michelle Zauner’s two solo albums are synth-heavy and loungey. Sauntering beatbox rhythms and strummed acoustic guitars underpin the lushly stacked and sometimes electronically treated vocals; strings occasionally swirl around the main melody, with a saxophone adding a jazzy vibe. Zauner likes contrasts, and one of those is her music’s balance of deep emotion and immaculate surface. 7:30 p.m. $13 advance, $15 day of show.

Friday, Sept. 8

Awesome Sommerfest at the Goethe-Institut: No, it's not Oktoberfest yet. It's Sommerfest. The German cultural institute's end-of-summer open house includes free German lessons, karaoke in both German and English, adult crafting, a screening of German short films and, in a nod to the locals, local garage rock and noise-pop bands the Foul Swoops and Br'er. 3 to 9 p.m. Free.

— Fritz Hahn, Carrie Donovan, Adele Chapin and Mark Jenkins

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