In Shakespearean stands

The NORTH CAROLINA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL returns to FLETCHER OPERA THEATER (in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh) for its annual stand of repertory performances this week. The two-show cycle–ROMEO & JULIET (Oct. 12 and 14) and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Oct. 13 and 15)–also marks a regional return for actor Todd Scofield, whose enigmatic work with Chapel Hill’s Somnambulist Project in the 1990s predated his critically praised performances with the Folger Theater and other companies in the Washington, D.C., area. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster by calling 834-4000. —Byron Woods

In live sparks at dusk

This weekend, THE CAVE, Chapel Hill’s oldest tavern, offers the best three-day span of local live music not linked to a festival in recent memory: Plan to call in sick Friday so you can see TRANSPORTATION, THE VINTS and THE KINGSBURY MANX in the subterranean space on Thursday night, Oct. 12. Transportation writes rock songs to steal your heart and commandeer your memory, while both The Vints and The Manx soften the edges and smile in sweetness. Friday and Saturday nights belong to TWILIGHTER, a twisted-folk gem from Chapel Hill led by Thomas Herndon. The band’s Fortune is On is one of the most intriguing albums to emerge from the Triangle this decade. DEXTER ROMWEBER opens Friday, and Philly’s CORDALENE opens Saturday. Cover is $5 each night. Arrive by 10 p.m. and get a free Twilighter EP. —Grayson Currin

In building blocks

Throwing a large music party can start to feel like business, but the organizers of the TROIKA MUSIC FESTIVAL, which runs from Wednesday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 22, always have a community-building mission in mind. The annual event is now hitting its stride after evolving from a Durham-centric set of shows to a Triangle-wide series. This year, it’s only in Durham venues, though it includes artists from across the country. Local luminaries like PORTASTATIC, THE MOUNTAIN GOATS and CANTWELL, GOMEZ & JORDAN highlight the roster alongside artists from other parts of the country including OKKERVIL RIVER, ASOBI SEKSU, TWO TON BOA and ELVIS PERKINS. The scores of lesser-known local bands playing in clubs and coffeehouses are reason enough to show up, especially when you discover a favorite new group that happens to live in your town. Troika may grow as a renowned stopping place on the map for traveling performers, but at its core it’s a party for and by the bands practicing, paying bills and participating in our neighborhoods. For lineups and more info, go to –Chris Toenes

In quintessential Carolina traditional

Cotton candy, hogs, demolition derbies, ice cream, corn on the cob, JO DEE MESSINA, turkey legs, prize pumpkins, fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, BLAKE SHELTON, fried Snickers, fried pickles, racing animals, food drives, lemonade, the Ferris wheel, cows, root beer floats, haunted houses, the world’s superlative something, lumberjacks, TIFT MERRITT, horses, political campaigns, stuffed animals, fake bling, lost-and-found, Dorton Arena, guess-my-what?, rigged contests, baseball tosses, BB guns, water pistols, bluegrass, roller coasters, EARL SCRUGGS, traffic jams, homemade jams, GARY ALLAN, apple butter, Mt. Olive stickers, patent-pending novelty goods and country-ham biscuits: The NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR starts Friday, Oct. 13 and ends Sunday, Oct. 22. For more information, see –Grayson Currin

In 1,001 beds

Perhaps it’s a little bit florid to call autobiographical performance artist TIM MILLER a gay canary in the American sociopolitical coalmine. Still, this performer’s queer dispatches on the body politic, including Shirts & Skin, Glory Box and US, have regularly riveted audiences in regional appearances over the past decade. Miller shows his latest work, 1,001 BEDS, this Thursday night, Oct. 12 at UNC’S SWAIN HALL (with a post-performance conversation with ALLAN GURGANUS). On Monday, Oct. 16, he performs SEX/BODY/SELF, a set of excerpts from previous pieces, at BRODY THEATER on Duke’s East Campus. Both shows are at 8 p.m. The Duke performance is free. Tickets for the UNC show are available by calling 843-3333. —Byron Woods

In Italian horror and cult actresses

JESSICA HARPER appeared in several offbeat films of the 1970s and ’80s, including Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment, Pennies from Heaven and My Favorite Year. But one of her biggest cult hits is the 1977 horror film SUSPIRIA, considered a highlight of legendary Italian director Dario Argento’s career. Suspiria catapulted him to international acclaim, and it often shows up on lists of the scariest movies ever made. This Friday, Oct. 13, Harper will be on hand for a screening and rare public discussion of the film as part of the CAROLINA THEATRE’S FEMME FATALE FILM SERIES. The highly stylized film stars Harper as a ballet student who slowly discovers her new school is run by sinister forces–as many of her fellow students die in horribly graphic ways. Argento composed the ominous soundtrack and played it live on set to keep the actors tense. Harper, who’s also worked with Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen, is sure to have some stories. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 560-30330 or visit —Zack Smith