Barbershops can be likened to the headquarters of human life: Every type of individual--from the street hustler to the CEO, from the student to the child--meets the revolving "seat of the soul," in the course of a day. In the late Ola Rotimi's Holding Talks (pictured above), this usually active gathering place becomes the center of the very absence of life; and a symbol of the reduction of action, to mere words. In the play, a dead man--who lies on his back for much of the performance--is further despoiled by the negligible banter of two characters who do nothing to prevent his demise. Directed by Kole Heyward-Rotimi, the renowned playwright's son and founder of The Rotimi Foundation, the play is the first in a series of measures established to present African arts to the Triangle (and nation), and to further advance the dreams of the former Nigerian playwright. "I picked it because it required a small cast and most Nigerian theater requires a large cast," says Heyward-Rotimi, of his decision to introduce this particular one of his father's plays to Triangle audiences. "The other reason was that É it is universal in its appeal: Even though it was written about Nigerian politics in the '70s, it's universal to mankind--people still spend time talking about situations and not necessarily acting on them." Local actor John Murphy gives a convincing performance as the "man," and is joined by Thaddeus Edwards, who plays the unsophisticated barber's apprentice. Catch the ill-fated dealings at the PSI Theater, 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (Thursday's performance will include a reception); 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday, Aug. 31. $15. 680-6237 for tickets and information.