If you've ever looked at a dollar coin, you've seen Sacagawea, the Shoshone teenager who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their grand expedition. But York -- William Clark's slave -- languishes in the obscure corners of national memory. Out in the wilds, York was just one of the Corps, but back home he was denied the glory (not to mention the "double pay and land grants") that his white fellow travelers won. He didn't even win his freedom from servitude until years later.
York lives again in the person of Louisville performer Hasan Davis. His one-man show York: Explorer comes to the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue, 314-746-4599, free) at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, February 7, as part of the museum's yearlong Lewis and Clark commemoration. "I thought it was a good time to add a new voice to the story," Davis says. "We're taught that the people who created this country all looked a certain way. The York story is a great example that those people were far more diverse. A diverse group of people have always stood together and sacrificed to secure the benefits of this nation." If the Davis show leaves you wanting more, the Black World History Wax Museum (2505 St. Louis Avenue, 314-241-7057, free) will unveil a life-size likeness of York at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 8. -- Jason Toon
Down and Out in Soulard
Still life with liquor and madness
The last time St. Louis saw a George F. Walker play, it was the seldom-heard-from Echo Theatre Company performing the booze-filled, violent Problem Child and Criminal Genius in tandem in the now-shuttered Berzerker Studios. A little more than a year later, a new troupe, the Muddy Waters Theatre Company, brings an entire season of Walker's dark comedies to the new Soulard Theatre. Escape from Happiness, another study in disconnections among the down-and-out by the Canadian Walker, is an absurdist look at crime and its entanglements. In 2004 Muddy Waters plans to perform two more plays by Walker, a writer who's been described as "half Sam Shepard and half George Kaufman" (at various times Friday, February 6, through Saturday, February 14; $12 to $15; 1921 South Ninth Street; 314-540-7831; www.muddywaterstheatre.com). -- Byron Kerman
Poetry slam turns gay
Back in 1882, when the dandy young poet Oscar Wilde twirled through town for an appearance at the Mercantile Library, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described his visit as "the event of the season, the signal for an outpouring of fashionable people."
Fashion will take a back seat when the St. Louis Poetry Slam! stages "The Gay 90's: A Wilde Affair" at 8 p.m. at Griffin's (728 Lafayette Avenue), just across from Soulard Market. Eminent local scribes including Howard Schwartz, Zaire Imani, Kevin McCameron and Bob Wilcox will read from the racy poetry of Wilde, in addition to works by such 1890s luminaries as Thomas Hardy, Stephen Crane, George Meredith and Algernon Swinburne.
In 1882 tickets to see Wilde cost a whopping dollar; 122 years later, admission to "A Wilde Affair" is only three dollars -- not a bad deal. For info call 314-776-7370. -- Dennis Brown
In the illustrations of Louis Kurz, ranks of blue- and gray-clad warriors face off across smoky battlefields or crash into one another amid red-and-white banners, trampling the bodies of their comrades. President Lincoln sent Kurz to various Civil War battlefields to capture what he saw; the resulting Prints of the Civil War are now on view at Jefferson Barracks Historic Site Old Ordnance Room (South Broadway south of Kingston Drive; February 7 through September 19; free to $3; call 314-544-5714 for times). -- Andrew Schubert