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Pencil This In: Beth Henley Plays Read by Ed Harris, Diane Keaton and More, Nerd Nite LA and 'Catch Me if You Can'

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There's a plethora of activities and events to choose from tonight, including an LA Nerd Nite of presentations in Venice; a Hammer reading of the plays Beth Henley with special guests that include Ed Harris and Diane Keaton; a new cabaret night in North Hollywood and an evening of Persian poetry and music in Westwood. Read on for all the details.POETRY
The Los Angeles Public Library begins a free series, Poetic Voices of the Muslim World, which explores Muslim art through poetry readings and music performances. Tonight at the Westwood Branch, Dr. Jawid Mojaddedi of Rutgers University presents Song of the Reed: Rumi, in which he discusses the 13th century Persian mystic Rumi and his poem the "Masnavi." The presentation begins at 6:30 pm. Free. It’s followed by a music performance by Persian classical music performer Amir Vahab and his ensemble.

Tonight at 7:30 pm, the Hammer Museum presents the program True Stories from the Plays of Beth Henley. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Henley is joined by actors Ed Harris, Diane Keaton, Amy Madigan and Belita Moreno to read excerpts from her plays, which include Crimes of the Heart, The Miss Firecracker Contest, Sisters of the Winter Madrigal, Ridiculous Fraud and most recently, The Jacksonian. There’s a discussion following the readings with series organizer Mona Simpson.

The musical Catch Me if You Can opens tonight at the Pantages Theatre for a two-week engagement. The show is based on the amazingly true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a con artist who eventually worked as an FBI consultant after he was caught passing himself off as a lawyer, doctor and jet pilot—all before the age of 21. (Leo Di Caprio played Abagnale in the film version.) Tickets: $32-$139.

It’s time for a Nerd Nite Los Angeles tonight at 7 pm at WitzEnd Live in Venice. It’s a gathering of nerds who listen to presentations while drinking. The three scheduled 20-minute PowerPoint presentations are: Using Data to Answer Subjective Questions Objectively; A Work in Progress - The Developing Adolescent Brain after Traumatic Brain Injury; and Why Electronic Music is Art and Much, Much More. Cover: $10

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The New Beverly Cinema begins a three-night engagement tonight for a David Byrne double feature, featuring the rock film Stop Making Sense (1984), directed by Jonathan Demme and starring the Talking Heads at 7:30 pm. It’s followed at 9:20 pm by the comedy True Stories (1986), directed by Byrne and starring David Byrne, John Goodman, Spalding Gray and Swoosie Kurtz. Tickets: $8 plus service fees.

The Federal Bar in North Hollywood kicks off a monthly cabaret night tonightfeaturing singers from on Broadway and off. The night’s creators with B-way creds—Kate Pazakis and Michael-Leon Wooley—have put together a packed line-up of talent and also have a segment called "Beautiful Disaster" in which two performance slots are reserved for any brave patrons who want to put their name in for a chance to come on stage and sing. After the cabaret night, the upstairs at The Federal Bar turns into a piano bar sing-a-long. No cover and no food/drink minimum, but reservations are recommended.

Author David Corbett, a former private investigator, talks about and signs his latest book The Art of Character at Samuel French today at 3 pm. He’ll talk about how theater training helps writers develop characters that come to life.

Want more events? Follow me on Twitter (@christineziemba). Or follow Lauren Lloyd—who takes care of Pencil on Wednesdays (@LadyyyLloyd).