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In 1996, three Mexican-born brothers died while fleeing the United States Border Patrol in Temecula, Calif. Ruben Martinez, a noted activist and journalist, covered the story and many more like it. In an article he published in Jinn Magazine that year, Martinez wrote: “Nativists north of the border may hope that [the high] body count will serve as a cautionary tale for migrants across Mexico—a kind of symbolic deterrent. Late last month, the Border Patrol initiated a new campaign called ‘Stay Out, Stay Alive’—a publicist’s equivalent of hanging the bodies of the dead on the border fence. But here in Cheran, some 1000 miles from that line, the North still represents a chance—albeit an increasingly slim one—for life.” That is the story behind Border Ballad, which proves Martinez’s commitment to Latino people and issues—and his talent as an actor. Since 1992, he’s presented arts workshops to young and not-so-young folks in Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan. Border Ballad mixes theater, music, and spoken word to tell the story of those three brothers and the price they paid for freedom. The production is presented by Sol & Soul and Gala Theatre. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Living Stage Theatre, 1901 14th St. NW. $15. (202) 234-5782. (Natalie Davis)
Twister is billed as a performance of video and live sound. Big deal, you might think. Sounds like Blockbuster night at my house. (When I attempt to watch videos at home, my 4-year-old provides an overabundance of live sound. As you can probably imagine, it makes it pretty damned hard to enjoy the show. Thankfully, the kid is entertaining.) Tonight, leave your little angel with a sitter, turn off the VCR, and take this performance for a spin. Sound and media artist Stephen Vitiello (pictured; his most recent CD is Scratchy Marimba) presents a three-minute excerpt of the tornado scene from the Helen Hunt hit film Twister. You know the scene with the flying cow? OK, imagine the video clip stretched out, as it were, and backed by electronic music. In Vitiello’s Twister, he slows the tornado frame-by-frame and turns three exciting minutes into 50 thoroughly engrossing ones, collapsing traditional ideas of time and space along the way. As the video runs, Vitiello performs a blend of ambient music and environmental sounds that serves as a subtly disturbing and endlessly compelling soundtrack. He explains his work as “musical ways to parallel visual structures and effects, straight and crooked lines, ideas of narrative versus non-narrative.” I’d call it multidimensional art. At 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 21, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Grand Atrium, 500 17th St. NW. $5. (202) 639-1700. (Natalie Davis)