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TUESDAY

It was an accident of programming on a rival network that sent tens of thousands of listeners to WABC radio a few minutes after the start of War of the Worlds on Oct. 30, 1938. Those who tuned in late didn’t hear the writing credits for Howard Koch and H.G. Wells. They just heard orchestral music interrupted by news bulletins about “a huge flaming object” that had fallen to earth on a farm near Grover’s Mill, N.J.—bulletins crafted so persuasively by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air actors that, despite several-program identification breaks over the next hour, much of the East Coast was soon swarming the streets in a panic over what it thought was an ongoing Martian invasion. Now, the script that prompted mass hysteria in the ’30s is brought to decidedly ’90s life on stage by Anne Bogart and her precedent- and expectation-shattering SITI Company. Bogart, whose muscular, surreal work is characterized by eccentric images, choreographed movements, and soundscapes that knock your ears back, has been developing another War of the Worlds production as part of an ambitious Welles evening that will premiere in March at Louisville, Ky.,’s Humana Festival. In tonight’s incarnation, she gets to work with the sound-effects techniques Welles invented for the original broadcast, and also spins some eerily playful variations of her own. This first fully staged theatrical production of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage series starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Kennedy Center’s Grand Foyer. Free. (202) 467-4600. (Bob Mondello)