In the 19th century, Richard Wagner was the prime exponent of Gesamtkunstwerk, the concept if integrating music, poetry, dance, and other visual elements into a single medium of dramatic expression. In the late 20th and early 21st, it's David Byrne. From his years with the Talking Heads through his Oscar-winning soundtrack for "The Last Emperor," his score for Twyla Tharp's dance project "The Catherine Wheel," his theater work, journals, and art installations turning old buildings into giant musical instruments, Byrne has employed every avenue of creative expression in one vast ongoing art project.
In 1986 he tried his hand at feature filmmaking with "True Stories," a look at a fictional Texas town and its off-kilter inhabitants. Byrne, who directed and co-wrote the script, appears in a 10-gallon hat as our deadpan tour guide, introducing us to the the optimistic, the lovelorn and the bedridden, the grandiose personalities and the wide open spaces. With a cast including John Goodman, Swoosie Kurtz and Spalding Grey, it's as eccentric as you would expect (well, more so), with a soaring soundtrack including "Radio Head," "Wild Wild Life" and "Puzzlin' Evidence."
Actor Stephen Tobolowsky ("Memento," "Glee"), who co-wrote the screenplay with Byrne will host a screening 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Walker Art Center. It's a rare chance to hear the true stories behind "True Stories." (Tickets $10 - $12; visit tickets.walkerart.org.)