What the hell is "the bourgeois"? People always talk about them, but you never meet a person who introduces himself as "bourgeois." If you've always wanted to see the bourgeois, then see Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano. This "anti-play" is a satirical attack on all things dear to the bourgeois. It's also an attack on banality, conformity and the emptiness of language. So, if you pay attention, you'll learn who the bourgeois are -- and don't worry if you recognize yourself up there onstage. Just clap when everyone else does, and no one will be the wiser, oui? Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (I-270 and Route 157, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-650-2774) presents The Bald Soprano at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (February 16 through 19) and at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 20. Tickets are $6 to $10, and all performances are held in the Metcalf Theater (behind the Vandalabene Center).
Thursday, February 17
The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its 30th season in May. If you, too, can't wait for it to get under way, head to Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar (222 South Bemiston Avenue, Clayton) between 5:30 and 7 p.m. for Opera with a Twist. This little get-together comes with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, special prices on wine and no admission charge (but if you would be so kind as to call 314-961-0171, extension 223, beforehand to reserve a space, it would be greatly appreciated). You also get a special "sneak preview" of the forthcoming season, which includes André Grétry's Beauty and the Beast and a little something called Rigoletto. Yeah! That's opera! Get psyched!
Friday, February 18
Get out your notebooks and pencils: It's time for this week's history lesson! So you've all heard of the Eugene Field House and St. Louis Toy Museum, right? Well, how about Roswell Field? Have you heard of him? No? Well, Roswell was Eugene's father -- and the abolitionist lawyer who took the Dred Scott case through to the U.S. Supreme Court. You have, of course, heard of Dred Scott? Good. Now for your homework assignment (don't worry, it's an easy one!): Head to the Old Courthouse (11 North Fourth Street; 314-655-1700 or www.nps.gov/jeff/courthouse.html), which, incidentally, was the site of the first two trials of the Scott case, for related programs Thursday through Saturday (February 17 through 19). On all three days, Julie Kemper from the Field house tells Roswell and Scott's story (at 9 and 11:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday). And at noon on Saturday, the Larry Hamilton and Scott McCloud Jazz Duo perform, and tours of the Field house (634 South Broadway; 314-421-4689) are offered at 2:30 p.m. But don't worry about bringing any money to participate in any of these events: Like all people should be, these activities are free.
Saturday, February 19
In the lonely latchkey days of childhood, some, like artist Yoshitomo Nara, befriended animals, and their influence on his life then shows up in his work now. Others, like present company, found a longtime friend in Mrs. Butterworth. Loving, kind, gentle and sweet, this lady always kept us (and our Eggos!) company and offered us comfort within her apron. Imagine our surprise when we found out that this lady wasn't who she said she was -- that she was a maple-syrup imposter! It was a sad day indeed, but also a day of new beginnings. We bandaged our broken heart, set out to find the real thing and ended up at Rockwoods Reservation (2751 Glencoe Road, Wildwood; 636-458-2236) for Maple Sugar Days. There, we learned about the history of maple syrup and how to identify a maple tree, we checked pails for sap, and we watched that sap turn into syrup, which we got to taste. Delicious! For a day that started out pretty low, it sure ended on a sweet high note. Experience that high for yourself for free today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- trust us, you'll never look back.
Sunday, February 20
Were Lord Byron alive today, he would be fronting the Doors. His good buddy Percy Bysshe Shelley would be leading, oh, let's say Yes. Far-fetched? Oh, no. Byron and Shelley were rabble-rousers in their day, advocating free love, utopia, more free love and, above all, Poesy. These guys were nuts. In 1816 they both absconded from England to escape personal scandal, ending up in Switzerland. Over the course of one crazy summer, they changed each other's lives and work. Shelley also hooked up (scandalously, natch) with future wife Mary Goodwin this summer, and three great books came out of this collision of bodies and minds. Howard Brenton's play Bloody Poetry captures this summer of madness and mirth, exploring the effects it had on all who survived the flames of passion. The Washington University Performing Arts Department presents Bloody Poetry in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre (in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 20, and at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (February 17 through 19). Tickets are $8 to $12.
Monday, February 21
Counting: There's nothing like it. Counting steps. Counting grievances against your friends and lovers. Counting how many more minutes until the work day is done, and how many more miles you have to drive until you are home. It's not hard to count, and it's kind of fun. This weekend all that practice you have in your regular day-to-day counting will be put to good use during the eighth annual Great Backyard Bird Count. To participate in this free event, which runs from Friday through today (February 18 through 21), all you have to do is count birds and bird species -- and report your findings at www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Sound fun? Of course it does. This year's theme is "North America's Great Backyard," so you can look just about anywhere for some birds to count -- except at the zoo. The folks at the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology don't need to know about those sad caged birds.
Tuesday, February 22
Kevin Young has combined two of Night & Day's favorite things into one book: poetry and hard-boiled detective movies. His Black Maria: Being the Adventures of Delilah Redbone and AKA Jones is a little of both, inventively blended together to create what he calls "a film noir in verse." AKA Jones, who's more of a "soft-boiled" detective, becomes tangled up with Delilah Redbone, a woman with a secret and a past (that's the best kind in this sort of tale). Young reads from his book at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731). Admission is free, and Young signs copies afterwards. So grab your doll, hop in the boiler, and dust already.