Bye-bye, Byron: Romantic mysteries that traverse the centuries, a la novelist A.S. Byatt or filmdom's Kenneth Branagh, are all the rage. Playwright Tom Stoppard now jumps on the bandwagon with Arcadia, billed as a "comedy of ideas" and relying on Stoppard's soaring wit and clever skill as a wordsmith. Here's the plot: Modern-day historian Bernard Nightingale alleges that Lord Byron fled England hastily after killing off a rival in a duel, while Nightingale's own rival, scholar Hannah Jarvis, wants to prove him wrong. We travel back in time to an early-nineteenth-century English estate in order to learn the truth. You'll have to see it to find out what that might be. Arcadia, staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company as its season opener, begins tonight at 8 and continues through November 10 at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for tickets, $25 to $32, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Dodger black: One of baseball's most courageous figures is remembered in all his pain and glory in a new biography, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait, a life account of the player who broke the national pastime's color barrier written by the athlete's widow, Rachel Robinson, with Lee Daniels. Robinson will autograph copies of the Abrams hardback ($29.95) tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Really hardcore Dodgers fans--some of whom might still remember Robinson's breakthrough years--ought to make quite a showing at this event, so arrive early; numbers for a place in line will be handed out beginning at 6:30. For more information call 322-7727.
Crossing over: In his acclaimed nonfiction work Across the Wire, bicultural author Luis Alberto Urrea told straightforward, unsentimental stories of poverty, disease and disenfranchised humanity encountered firsthand during a stint of social-service work along the U.S.-Mexico border. But he apparently didn't feel his work was done once it was published. Now there's By the Lake of the Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border, a sequel as heartbreaking and candid as the first installment. Urrea shares some of his poignant reportage, available for $11 in paperback, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. For details call 322-7727. Also of interest to those fascinated by Latino culture of the Southwest is the recently completed Baker and La Alma/Lincoln Park Community Art Project, for which approximately 150 adults and kids from Denver's barrio joined artist Karen White in the formulation of personalized nichos, or shrines. The resulting individual pieces, which were ultimately woven together to create a show of unity among neighbors, can be seen at the William E. Cope Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver Inc., 721 W. 8th Ave., during grand-reopening festivities that end tomorrow. The center is open from 3 to 8 today and 10 to 3 Saturday; call 561-0476.
Louisiana style: There are all kinds of things stewing in those shadowy Louisiana bayous--'gators, boudin, catfish and a whole boatload of great blue-collar musical forms, all performed with a tasty indigenous zeal. Lucky for you, more than one of those styles can be explored tonight, right here in Denver. Bluesman Lonnie Brooks, a regional guitarist who borrows Texan riffs and makes them all his own, smokes through a set tonight at 9:30 at Herman's Hideaway, 1578 S. Broadway. Tickets are $9 to $10; call 777-5840. And at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., good ol' swamp fox Sonny Landreth, a veteran of bands headed by Clifton Chenier and John Hiatt, puts on a late-night display of searing slide-guitar pyrotechnics--with a zydeco lilt--beginning around 10:30. For tickets, $7 to $9, call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Balog jam: We have a celebrity in our midst. Boulder animal photographer James Balog is the artist behind a spiffy new series of endangered-species stamps issued October 2 by the U.S. Postal Service. Balog will be on hand this afternoon from 2 to 4 at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., to sign prints, books and actual sheets of the stamps for a Wildlife Fundraiser benefiting People Allied With Wildlife, which supports the Colorado Anti-Trapping Initiative. Twenty bucks at the door includes refreshments and an autograph; for information call 702-1400.
Turning Japanese: More photography, this batch fresh from the Pacific Rim, can be seen in Photography and Beyond in Japan: Space, Time and Memory, a stunning show opening today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. The exhibition's contemporary works, on display through January 5, combine both Eastern and Western artistic traditions with experimental forms, touching on the three title concepts through the exploration of positive and negative space, time-lapse and symbolic images. Guided tours, free with museum admission, are offered at 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; for information call 640-4433. In conjunction with the photo exhibit, the Denver Art Museum Cinema 1996 Fall Film Series, beginning at 7:30 p.m. October 15, presents films from Japan. Tampopo, a hilarious and sensual food-fest of a film, opens the series, which continues on Tuesday nights, through November 19. Screenings will be held down the street from the museum at the Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St.; tickets are $5 ($3 DAM members), or $25 for the entire series ($15 members). Call 640-2428 for film information or 623-2349 to reserve tickets in advance.