Paula Poundstone
Carolina TheatreThe popular comedian and Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me regular returns to Durham. We think there will be a lot to talk, and laugh, about. Showtime is 8 p.m. Visit www.carolinatheatre.org for info and tickets.

Chapel Hill
Mother Courage and Her Children
Swain Hall, UNC CampusAs chaotic as American political and economic life has been in recent weeks and months, there’s nothing to compare to life in Europe in the late 1930s. Some great art came of the rising violencePicasso’s “Guernica,” for example, and W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety. And then there’s Mother Courage and Her Children, the musical Bertolt Brecht wrote in response to the German invasion of Poland. Typically, however, Brecht took the long view and the oblique angle. His tale is set during the brutal, senseless Thirty Years War that was fought in central Europe in the 17th century and claimed a staggering toll of death and destruction among the civilian populace. The title character in Brecht’s most celebrated work of epic theater is a woman who, along with her three children, pushes her cart after the Swedish army to profit off the war. And so it goes, in the 17th century, in the 20th, in the 21st centuries. Triangle theater stalwart Joseph Megel directs, and Elizabeth Lewis Corley plays the title role. The show, which opens tonight, is produced by the Justice Theater Project and runs for three weekends at Swain Hall, to be followed by five performances at Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons Performing Arts Center Nov. 13-16. Visit www.thejusticetheaterproject.org. David Fellerath

Opeth, High on Fire, Baroness
Lincoln TheatreOne of the finest touring bills of the year, metal or otherwise, this hyper-masculine, hyper-riffed trifecta is pure bicoastal and bicontinental glory: Savannah, Ga.’s opener Baroness pulls unequally from electric blues, British heavy metal and old progressive glory, mixing those intense skill sets with a muscular Southern throb and the powerful, scabrous voice of John Baizley. Last year’s Red Album sliced through many of the year’s other records with glinting, chiseled riffs pushed by a mid-tempo, downbeat pummel that was capable of starting and stopping, speeding and slowing without notice. Led by stoner rock pioneer Matt Pike, once of Sleep, Oakland’s High on Fire only seems to get better and bolder each year: Death is This Communion takes chances with drum solos and structural upheaval, its brutish bottom-end lashing at Pike’s surprisingly sculpted melodic barks and chug-and-run guitar heroics. Live, this band’s undeniable. Sweden’s Opeth is an institution, its progressive, ambitious eclecticism having taken aim at nearly every form and sound imaginable over the last 18 years. Despite an increasingly high-art stance, the band’s epics still arch and roll better than those of most. Drop $23-$26 at 8 p.m. Grayson Currin

Chapel Hill
UNC Presents Rock Shows
Local 506UNC’s student media standbys, WXYC and The Daily Tar Heel, present two strong triple bills of Triangle favorites: XYC’s showcase on Friday presents the best of the Triangle’s heaviest, starting with In the Year of the Pig’s double-drumming, feedback-scourged melee and ending with Caltrop’s worship of the sharp, sinewy riff. Blag’ardcrunchy and curiousfits the middle. The Daily Tar Heel‘s Saturday show is a bit more staid: Violet Vector & the Lovely Lovelies mix paisley prints and psychedelic swirls through charming but defiant pop gems, while Schooner lets subdued soul seep into its AM-radio-meets-indie-rock beginnings. Max Indian winks at The Beatles like high-schoolers with a new crush, chasing the ghost loudly and with élan. Both shows begin at 10 p.m. and cost you absolutely nothing. Grayson Currin

Carl Kurlander and St. Elmos Fire
Griffth Theater, Duke CampusWhile a student at Duke, Carl Kurlander had a crush on a girl who worked at the St. Elmo Hotel. “I had a professor at Duke I asked if I could write a short story so moving that a girl would fall in love with me,” he says. “Instead of discouraging me, she said ‘Write it!’”

Kurlander didn’t get the girl, but the resulting short story, “St. Elmo’s Fire,” wound up getting him a scholarship to Universal Studios. Joel Schumacher directed the 1985 hit film version that’s still remembered for its “Brat Pack” cast and theme song performed by John Parr.

Now, more than two decades later, Kurlander is back at Duke for a screening of both Fire and his directorial debut, the documentary My Tale of Two Cities. Kurlander, who works as visiting distinguished senior lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, was inspired to do the film after moving back to his home town of Pittsburgh, which explores his relationship with the city as it fell into and started to recover from hard times.

Kurlander, who now divides his time between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, says Two Cities is a sort of “Can you go home again?” piece that explores his efforts to figure out how to help the city by talking to figures from its history, including the inspirations for characters on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. “People talk about it like it’s a Roger and Me, and it wound up becoming Mr. Rogers and Me.” Kurlander says.

Incidentally, Kurlander says the speech about “St. Elmo’s Fire” delivered by Rob Lowe in the film version is mostly inaccurate: “[Schumacher] pointed out that the studio might change the name of the film, so I had to make St. Elmo’s fire part of the plot,” Kurlander says. “If I’d been able to do Internet research back then, it might have been called something completely different!”

Kurlander will introduce tonight’s free 11:30 p.m. screening. Zack Smith