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Tales about the lust for power seem especially appropriate this election season, and Burning Coal Theatre Company's season-opener, a minimalist production of Macbeth, will take its audience into a story where political ambition finally drives a man to murder. Los Angeles-based Alexander Yannis Stephano directs the production, set in pre-Braveheart Scotland, and focused on Macbeth's battles with nature--the chanting cauldron crones, his bloodthirsty wife and his own self. To find out how Burning Coal will pull all this off in the gymnasium at the Achievement School in North Raleigh, go to a performance Nov. 2 through Nov. 19, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14, except for the Nov. 5 matinee--the company's "pay-what-you-can" day. Call 388-0066 for more information.

DiamondDiamondDiamondA lady of elegant hats and eloquent language, novelist Zora Neale Hurston was largely unrecognized for the significant role she played in the Harlem Renaissance. She never made enough money from her writing while she was alive, and had to work as a manicurist, teacher, librarian and domestic to pay her bills. When she died in 1960 in a welfare home, she was buried in an unmarked grave. Since the late '60s, however, scholars, authors and college students have been rediscovering Hurston's intelligent, humorous and original oeuvre. Driven by an interest in folklore, the Alabama-born Hurston set down in novels and plays real black rural life, and her second book, Of Mules and Men, tells of her experiences during her journeys to the South. The NCCU Department of Theatre is currently putting on Randolph Umberger's stage version (pictured) of Hurston's book, in which "Zora returns home to Florida from Harlem, and the whole town turns out to entertain her." The production runs Nov. 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 8:15 p.m. and Nov. 5 and 12 at 3:15 p.m. For information, call 560-5170.

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