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Many staples of Americana, if not adopted as “retro,” will inevitably be left behind with the 20th century. So I admire any attempt to sift through our multifarious cultural lapses, especially when it’s free. The Shakespeare Theatre opens the 1998-1999 season of its Re-Discovery Series, which presents readings of lesser-known works by the world’s great playwrights, with Thornton Wilder’s last major work, The Alcestiad, a reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Alcestis. But this ain’t your father’s Our Town: The Alcestiad is fraught with love, death, sacrifice, and communication breakdown on a classical scale. Wilder’s grandson and literary executor, Tappan Wilder, will lead a post-reading discussion with the audience and the cast, which features Jennifer Harmon (pictured), Philip Goodwin, Floyd King, Ted van Griethuysen, and Tana Hicken. No stranger, though, to retro, Wilder: “I am not an innovator but a re-discoverer of forgotten goods and I hope a remover of obtrusive bric-a-brac.” At 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, at the Shakespeare Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 547-1122. (Amanda Fazzone)