Aisle Seat

Out of the High School and Onto the Stage
A poet can write in a garret. A singer can croon a cappella. But a playwright can't know what works without actors and an audience, especially an audience. Magic Theater's Young California Writers Project offers a unique opportunity for Bay Area high school students to see their plays performed by professional actors. "YCWP is innovative in its use of theater as a tool for learning," says the project's education director, the evocatively named Antigone Trimis. "Theater artists, educators, and high school students team up in a process that's refreshing, creative, and life-affirming." The performance is May 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Magic, in Fort Mason, and it's free. Call 441-8001 for reservations.

The Money Thang
Thanks to the new barbarians (aka the Republican congressional majority), and their 39 percent cut in NEA funding, arts organizations around the Bay Area are scrambling to make up missing or severely diminished grants. Their cries for cash, however, are artfully disguised: The New Pickle Family Circus will perform two matinees on May 18 at 1 and 4 p.m. to benefit the California Shakespeare Festival. Do your part for the Bard and have a fabulous time at "Pickle Slices," selections from the Pickles' recent full-length shows, with dancing, juggling, acrobatics -- you know, circus stuff, performed at the fest's outdoor amphitheater in Orinda. There's plenty of parking; you can also BART to Orinda and free shuttle to the amphitheater. The grounds open an hour before the performance. Call (510) 548-9666.

Comedy Etc...
Check out ACT's "Comedy Night at the Geary" on May 19. The benefit supports a new scholarship fund for ACT's conservatory. The show is hosted by Jean Stapleton, the star of the theater's ongoing show, The Matchmaker, and features stand-up by Rick Overton, Margaret Smith, and Jake Johannsen; conservatory alum Don Johnson will also drop by. The money goes to train young actors, so it's really a benefit for future audiences (this means you). Call 749-2228. ... The Playwrights Foundation holds a Spring Benefit Party for Bay Area Playwrights Festival 19. The festival's alums include Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Anna Deavere Smith, Philip Kan Gotanda, Claire Chafe -- the list goes on and on. The party is on May 20, at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, and the festivities include a silent auction of fine art from the Rena Bransten Gallery, a reading of an excerpt from one of the festival plays, a little wine, a little nosh, and a chance to help out the playwrights who will change our lives in the not too distant future. Call 263-3986.

By Deborah Peifer

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