In minimal theater and maximal dance (11.16 ~ 11.18)

Take five actors. OK, now perform HAMLET. A prescription for theatrical disaster? Not for ACTORS FROM THE LONDON STAGE, a company that’s been staging brilliant Shakespearean productions for 30 years with a handful of gifted actors on an otherwise empty stage. See and marvel when they perform this Thursday (7:30 p.m.), Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.) at the UNC CENTER FOR DRAMATIC ART’S KENAN THEATER in Chapel Hill. Also at UNC this weekend, Vietnamese choreographer EA SOLA asks how the “virtual memories” of her country’s young people about the Vietnam War can possibly trigger acts of conscienceand a culture of non-violencein DROUGHT AND RAIN, VOL. 2. The VIETNAM NATIONAL OPERA BALLET performs Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday at 8 in UNC’S MEMORIAL HALL. For ticket info, go to Byron WoodsIn portraits of the legacy (11.18 ~ 11.19)

Go to enough local shows, and chances are you’ll spot DANIEL COSTON up front, moving along the stage’s apron and focusing his lens on the performers above him. Coston’s work delights in his subjects’ personalities, and his camera captures the essence of the performer. His images of JOHNNY CASH‘s last public performance are now on display at BICKETT GALLERY in Raleigh. In honor of the exhibit and legacy, the gallery has booked two nights of Cash acolytes, covering his songs amid their own: NOLA, GAMBLING THE MUSE and HELLSAYERS play Saturday, Nov. 18 and TWO DOLLAR PISTOLS, THE MASON SMITH BAND and SHANNON O’CONNOR play Sunday. Tickets are $12, and both shows start at 8:30 p.m. A portion of the profits benefit VH-1’s Save the Music. For more, visit Grayson CurrinIn alpha to Zorn (11.17)

Debating the worth of one JOHN ZORN project or another is a task that continues ad infinitum, and there’s little need either to laud Naked City or lambaste Bill Laswell here. Just know that over the past three decades, Zorn has altered states of jazz, rock, classical and liturgical music with his reeds and an overarching aesthetic guided by unhinged exploration. Zorn has had an impact on the whole of modern avant garde as both an organizer and benefactor: The founder of Tzadik Records in 1995, Zorn has set an unimpeachable standard of professionalism and prolificacy in fringe music, exposing new instrumental voices and concepts and giving his peers the confidence to stretch. This year alone, Tzadik has released a dozen albums, including a collaboration between Japanese gods Keiji Haino and Tatsuya Yoshida and the reunion recordings of the seminal Joseph Holbrooke Trio. Zorn’s appearance this Friday, Nov. 17 at DUKE UNIVERSITY’S PAGE AUDITORIUM with ACOUSTIC MASADA is indeed a rarity. Expect GREG COHEN on bass, DAVE DOUGLAS on trumpet and JOEY BARON on drums. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $26. To purchase, visit or call 684-4444. Grayson CurrinIn last chance literature (11.15 ~ 11.19)

Looking for a rare volume, an old favorite, or just some doing some bulk Christmas shopping? Then head to the WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY BOOKSALE, which opens Wednesday, Nov. 15 at noon. The sale features a whopping 500,000 BOOKS this year, with prices starting at $4 for hardbound books and $1 for paperbacks. Prices are reduced on Saturday, with $2 for hardbound books and $0.50 for paperbacks, and it’s every man for himself on Sunday, when it’s as many books as you can shove in a bag for $2, and as many as you can shove into a box for $5 (bags and boxes provided). The sale is located in the former Super Kmart building on U.S. 64-Business East (4121 New Bern Ave.) between Corporation Parkway and New Hope Road. For more information, e-mail Dale Cousins at Zack SmithIn spirit of the season (11.18)

Shake out your Santa hat and pull the reindeer ears from the attic. On Saturday, Nov. 18, the 62nd annual RALEIGH CHRISTMAS PARADE will feature all the familiar staplesglammed-up yuletide floats, colorful high school bands, iced-out snow queens and dancing elvesand the parade’s newest addition, three giant helium balloons. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Hillborough Street at St. Mary’s Street and proceeds through downtown until noon (see Raleigh’s newest yuletide soiree, WINTERFEST, follows the parade at MOORE SQUARE, and don’t miss ROB WATSON, SCHOONER, NATHAN ASHER AND THE INFANTRY and MILAGRO SAINTS as they perform music featured on the new compilation CD Have a Holly Raleigh Christmas. Proceeds from the album benefit local high-school musicians. Winterfest runs from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free. Kathy Justice In de stijlin’ (11.19)

You’re sure you could’ve been an architect, if it weren’t for all that schooling and hard work and stuff. Or maybe your child blew the curve on her preschool entry exam with her visuo-spatial skill set. The MUSEUM OF LIFE AND SCIENCE in Durham is calling on all closet Art Vandelays and budding Frank Gehrys to participate in their TABLE TOP KAPLA BLOCK CONTEST. Created by a Dutch art historian, Kapla blocks (or “Kabouter Plankja,” Dutch for “little planks”) have a simple 1:3:5 width/height/length ratio. Use 200 of these elegant wooden planks to build your masterpiece. The creator of the most creative structure will win a Kapla set to take home. There are two sessions this Sunday, Nov. 19: from 1 to 2 p.m. or 3 to 4 p.m. Participation is free with admission ($9.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids ages 3 to 12, and free for the little ones). For more information, visit or call 220-5429. Marc Maximov