In two plays running

Politics, power and racism are the themes of two new theatrical productions opening this weekend on two different Durham campuses. THEATER PREVIEWS at DUKE UNIVERSITY, in conjunction with a group of Broadway producers, have pulled together an award-winning cast and crew to present D. Tucker Smith’s THE GREAT GAME. The play, set in 19th-century London and Central Asia, resonates with viewers today as it explores the desire of foreign powers to exploit and regulate Pakistan, Afghanistan and the lucrative trade routes in the region. The play runs from Feb. 14-March 4 with matinee and evening shows in Reynolds Theater at Duke. Admission is $18-$30. For tickets call 684-4444. NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY‘s Department of Theatre presents TWO TRAINS RUNNING by the late Pulitzer Prize winner AUGUST WILSON. The play, set in Pittsburgh in 1969, portrays the sentiments of everyday African Americans in the midst of a racially charged urban renewal project. Shows run Feb. 16-17 and 23-24 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. at NCCU’s University Theatre. Tickets are $10, call 530-5170. Iesha Brown

In the languages of love

In 1960, Chapel Hill author ELIZABETH SPENCER published a tale called THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, originally in The New Yorker (which devoted an entire issue to its publication) and subsequently as a novella that has been in print ever since. After a movie was quickly made in 1962, no further adaptations occurred until the appearance of the musical, composed by Adam Guettel with a book by Craig Lucas. From its opening bars, however, it was clear that The Light in the Piazza was a breed apart from the over-amplified carnival spectacles elsewhere on Broadway. Guettel created a shimmering string score and Lucas adapted Spencer’s Jamesian love story of a young Winston-Salem woman’s exposure to Italy and the attentions of one man. The Light in the Piazza won six 2005 Tony awards, and now the road production is at MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM in Raleigh. It runs Feb. 13-18 and tickets are $27.50-$59 ( For more on the show, go to David Fellerath

In pints and players

Celtic music is a long-standing staple of Carolina culture, flowing down from the traditional bluegrass and folk music of the Appalachian Mountains, to the string band thumpers living in the Piedmont and stretching outward to the folk-soaked singer-songwriters of the coast. To celebrate our ancestral roots, THE ARTSCENTER has prepared a five-week CELTIC CONCERT SERIES featuring musicians working in the Welsh, Irish, British and Gaelic traditions. The season kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. with PAUL BRADY, an Irish-bred guitarist who is as versed in rock ‘n’ roll as he is in traditional fare. Tickets are $23. The forward-thinking ALTANa 10-piece band specializing in intricate jigs, ballads, reels and airs with a modern twistplays the series on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Down the road, keep your eyes open for Seamus Egan’s SOLAS (Feb. 25) and the Celtic-roots group DERVISH (March 9). For information or to purchase tickets, call 929-2787 or visit Kathy Justice

In decibels of philanthropy

CAT’S CRADLE found two open slots on their schedule this weekend, and it became another chance for the club to extend its philanthropic streak. Eugene Wheeler, the fundraising mentor for THE LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA SOCIETY’S TEAM IN TRAINING, met members of THE KINGSBURY MANX years ago and they’ve stayed close ever since. Wheeler organized the Saturday, Feb. 17 benefit, and The Manx will headline, supported by HEARTS & DAGGERS, BIG FAT GAP WITH MICHAEL HOLLAND and SPIDER BAGS. Tickets are $5 for the 8:30 p.m. start. On Sunday, Feb. 18 at 8:30 p.m., four Orange County rock bands gather at the Cradle to raise money for ailing former Hardback waitress LISA GARMON. “Lisa was the classic, sassy Hardback waitress in a long line of them,” says friend Kirk Ross, of Carrboro’s LUD. Joining the gig will be DEXTER ROMWEBER & THE NEW ROMANS, BRINGERER and THE MOANERS, whose second LP, Blackwing Yalobusha, is due in March. Donations are suggested. Grayson Currin

In films of a time, redux

Poking around video stores in the Triangle in the mid-’90s, near the bin of Trash and Stay Free zines, you’d probably see a beat-up VHS tape of MICHAEL GALINSKY and SUKI HAWLEY‘s film HALF-COCKED. It’s a coming of age story tied to the era’s gnarly rock of those years; the film’s band on the run could have been Erectus Monotone or Polvo, but it was the filmmakers’ friends, including a rip-snorting Ian Svenonius as the frontman pissing everybody off. Half-Cocked has been released on DVD with Galinsky and Hawley’s later film RADIATION, which depicts the foibles of a Spanish music promoter. Galinsky and Hawley will present the films Sunday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m. at RESERVOIR in Carrboro and Tuesday, Feb. 20, at KINGS in Raleigh with Half Cocked at 7:30 and Radiation at 9 p.m. Chris Toenes

In childhood security

The security blanket, associated with Linus Van Pelt, can embody hope for a seriously ill or traumatized child. PROJECT LINUS is a nonprofit organization that distributes handmade blankets to provide comfort to such children. With at least one chapter in every state, the organization has distributed more than 1.5 million blankets since its 1995 inception. On Saturday, Feb. 17, join Raleigh’s local chapter as they participate in the national MAKE A BLANKET DAY 2007. The event takes place at the A.E. FINLEY YMCA in Raleigh from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bring any knitting and sewing supplies you can. For more information, call Deanna at 793-0039 or visit Megan Stein