Thursday November 9 The play's the thing: Closet thespians can now warm up in a nonthreatening environment: The Denver Center Theatre Company and the Tattered Cover Book Store are joining forces to organize their Catch Us in the Act Theater Reading Groups, a unique kind of package deal combining open discussions about specific plays with the opportunity to watch professional performances. The first session, tonight at 7 in the National Conservatory Library at the old Tramway Building, 13th and Arapahoe streets, will focus on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Participants are encouraged to brush up beforehand by reading and seeing the play; included in the $20 fee is a ticket to a current DCTC production at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, as well as niceties such as dessert and coffee served at the discussion. For further information call 446-4849.
Neighborly gathering: Some history is sweeping, while other historical aspects might be as fine as a speck of dust. The Curtis Park Photo/Story Project, the brainchild of storyteller/shutterbug Tory Read, may be closer to the latter, but the importance of the noble little endeavor--part oral history, part photographic record--in terms of strengthening the Curtis Park community is immeasurable. A benefit concert featuring a mixed bag of local performers, from the Afro-Caribbean band Kizumba to Sisters of the Sun, an offshoot of the Eulipions theater troupe, will be held for the ongoing project tonight at 6:30 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Admission is $5; call 440-9350. An exhibit based on the project, which uses stories told by Curtis Park residents, is scheduled for next March.
Friday November 10 Gould mine: So you think there's nothing drier than a room full of scientists? Think again. Led by renowned and oft-published invertebrate paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, the Denver Museum of Natural History's weekend Prehistoric Journey Lecture/Symposium will shed light on the intertwining of evolution and ecology. Beginning this evening at 7:30, when Gould lectures at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, the symposium returns tomorrow to the museum, 2001 Colorado Blvd., for a full day (8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) of discussions and talks by Gould and seven fellow paleontologists. A private tour and banquet dinner wrap things up. Admission to tonight's lecture is $16 ($12 members), while tomorrow's symposium events are an all-inclusive $110 ($105 members); call 322-7009 for reservations.
All systems functional: LoDo galleries celebrate the functional and the not-so-functional with a rash of fine shows opening tonight from 6 to 9 and continuing through year's end. The Art of Craft, 1736 Wazee St. (292-5564), repeats a successful formula with its Wearable Art Extravaganza II, featuring everything from ties and scarves to coats and kimonos, all composed of handwoven fibers, dyed fabrics and/or assembled media. (Halloween is safely over--what's wrong with a little Christmas shopping?) Sandy Carson Gallery, 1734 Wazee St. (297-8585), offers Furniture Beyond Function, a finely crafted group exhibit of sculptural, one-of-a-kind furnishings that please the eye and texturally tempt other senses with smooth or unexpected shapes and surfaces. And totally nonfunctional, but exceptional in every other way, are the sculptures of Manuel Neri, including featureless, half-gilded human forms that seem to rise staunchly out of the mud. These, along with Neri's drawings, go on display at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee St. (298-7788). A second festive chance to view the artworks takes place later in the weekend during the LoDo Second Sunday gallery walk, from noon to 4 on November 12; call individual galleries for information.
Saturday November 11 Bringing it all back home: Fiction writer Tim O'Brien, best known for straightforward, sad, tortured work based on his Vietnam experiences, branched out in his most recent novel, In the Lake of the Woods. The Vietnam theme is still there--the defeated politician protagonist submerges his vivid memories of the My Lai massacre into the twisting plot. But the book, now available in paperback, is ultimately a mystery, written beautifully in shifting directions. O'Brien reads tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; for details call 322-7727.
Nomad is an island: The Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., looks to the exotic climes of Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan when the blockbuster traveling exhibition opens today for an extended run. A stunning collection of artifacts organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Mongolia is studded with gilt bronze Buddhas, silk appliqued banners, elaborate saddles and headdresses, manuscripts and striking festival masks. But perhaps its crowning glory is an exact replica of the ger--a furnished, walk-through tent resembling those called home by nomads roaming the Mongolian steppes. A special admission price will be charged for the exhibit (full museum access is included in the fee): $4 to $6.50 (children five and under free), or $3.50 to $10 with self-guided audio tour. Mongolia continues through February 25; for advance tickets call 830-TIXS. Or call 640-4433 for additional information.