From Harry Potter to Sabrina, the practice of witchcraft has been ripped off, exploited and corrupted over the past few years. Hmm...kind of like the United States presidency. The Mercury Motley Players will help set straight both injustices tonight during its presentation of The Allied Witches' Presidential Election Satire. Sponsored by and co-starring Marilyn Megenity, owner of the venerated Mercury Cafe, the play seeks to inform its audience about the issues infusing this year's showdown between George W. Bush and John Kerry -- even as it celebrates the weaving of witchcraft and stagecraft. "We don't think of theater as an intentionally magical event, but it is," Megenity says. "It grabs the audience as a participant and casts a spell over them. We do have an important spell in mind to cast before this election, and we will involve the audience in this most benevolent spell."
But the show is as much about casting votes as it is spells. More newt's eye than Newt Gingrich, more pagan than Reagan, the comedy has a distinctly liberal slant -- but Megenity uses a more encompassing term to describe her troupe's political affiliation. "We're pro-humanity," she explains. "And the Mercury Motley Players are in agreement that the Bush regime is anti-humanity. We will be poking some fun at them. This is comedic and serious; both satire and protest are essential in a democracy."
In true spoof spirit, everyone from Dick Cheney to Donald Rumsfeld is lampooned in the play, which was scripted collaboratively by members of the Players' theater group. But the show has its heroes, too: Among the protagonists are Georgia's crusading ex-congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, tough-talking political commentator Molly Ivins and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman.
"We did a piece of our show for a benefit for Democratic candidates a couple weeks ago," Megenity says, "and it was received very warmly, with lots and lots of laughs."
Satire will play at the Mercury, 2199 California Street, every Friday and Saturday through October, culminating in a final performance on the holy, mystical eve of Halloween -- coincidentally, just three days before the election. "This is the season of the witch," Megenity notes. "Witches use magic. People all over the world use magical ceremony and spirituality to confront their community's problems. And that's what we're doing with this production."
Admission ranges from $5 to $10; for details, call 303-294-9281 or visit www.mercurycafe.com. -- Jason Heller
Nations March seeks a new Columbus Day
In the third season of The Sopranos, Silvio leads a brigade of angry mobsters against a group of Native Americans protesting Columbus Day. Blindly supportive of Columbus, who was Italian, the crew winds up inciting a near riot. Unsatisfied, Silvio eggs on a hesitant Tony, and before the episode is over, everyone from civil-rights leaders to Catholic priests weigh in on what Tony feels is a pointless battle over political correctness and identity. "What ever happened to Gary Cooper?" he wonders at the end of the show. "There was an American -- the strong, silent type." Confusing the actor and his on-screen persona, Tony explains how, rather than lament his scorned background, Cooper just did what he had to do.
Well, Tony, Gary Cooper is dead, and the protests go on -- only now they're far more inclusive.
Take today's Four Directions All Nations March, which begins at 5 p.m. in four different locations and culminates in a rally at 6:15 at Cuernavaca Park, 20th and Platte streets. This year's theme is "Completing the Circle" and stresses the connection of all nations and creatures with the earth. Accordingly, organizers say, everyone's invited to attend the event, which seeks to transform Columbus Day into a celebration of the cultures of all people instead of one of "racism, genocide and violence."
Good thing we're not in Jersey.
For more information, including march locations, go to www.transformcolumbusday.org. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Aunt's Art-History Rap
Everyone has an Aunt Miriam -- that eccentric relative you don't see very often, whose apartment back East smells a little off and who makes bizarre, seemingly random comments. But she's also the one who quietly drops profound pearls of wisdom, the one about whom incredible stories abound in family lore. While lots of people have a similar relation, most wouldn't make her the poster woman for their lectures. Art maven Adam Lerner would.
"Art since the 1960s has tried to capture the richness of human life and has often done so in an abstract way, capturing how crazy we humans are," explains Lerner, director of The Lab at Belmar. "Miriam's a good metaphor for that. She's someone who on the surface may seem strange or silly, but she is also someone with a lot to say about our lives, somebody that everyone can relate to."
Hence her appearance in promotional materials for "Mishugas! Contemporary Art and Things You Learn From Aunt Miriam," a series of lectures on the history of contemporary art. The sequence begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with a lecture by Lerner on 1960s "fluxus iconoclasts," at 445 South Saulsbury Street in the Belmar complex, Alameda Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood. Admission is $5, free for students. Reservations, which are recommended, can be made by calling 303-742-1525 or visiting www.auntmiriam.org.