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March 10, 1991|R.D.

Our birthday approaches. The big Three-Six. And our psyche decided to bail out on us, saying it couldn't take another possible 40-odd years with "Captain Existentialism" at the helm.

Too much doubt and too much worry, it said.

"There's more to life than sitting around wondering why we're all here," our psyche said.

"If you want us, we'll be in Cancun."

And it was gone.

Leaving us to ask the Big Questions, much like choreographer Bill T. Jones does in "Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land," which is being presented by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Co. and the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts.

The piece, which incorporates music, dance and dramatic theater, was conceived by Jones and his longtime partner and collaborator, Arnie Zane, who died of AIDS in 1988.

The work evolved, Jones said in a recent interview in "Inside Arts," out of his "crisis of faith."

"Why--what is the reason for living?" Jones said in the interview. "Why do I want to continue living, and what do I fear about dying? . . . What does it mean to have faith? What does it mean not to have faith? What is fear? Why do we fear? When we are without belief, can we live without it?"

These ambiguous, provocative and strangely beautiful themes are explored, together with the issues of race and sex, in this production that features a score by the Julius Hemphill Sextet. Performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at UCLA's Royce Hall. Ticket prices vary. For information call (213) 825-9261.

In this world, we can recognize the need for a healthy dose of fear from time to time. As musician Taj Mahal sings, "Man, if you ain't scared, you ain't right."

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