Hearing Voices In Confessions of Madame Psyche, novelist Dorothy Bryant filters the experiences of San Francisco's early immigrants through the eyes of Mei-Li, a Chinese/Irish-American girl who spends a tumultuous childhood in Hunters Point. Bryant's turn-of-the-century survival story, fraught with poverty, racism, and one really big earthquake, won her an American Book Award. The first chapter has been adapted to the stage by the Magic Theater and contemporary literature specialists Word for Word. The show opens at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 22; Bryant signs autographs at a free post-opening night reception) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 441-8822.
Go Nellie Laura Ingalls Wilder painted Nellie Oleson as a snooty rich girl in her Little House series of children's books. In his adaptation of Wilder's books to the Little House TV series, director Michael Landon turned Nellie into an outrageously obnoxious wench. And now there's the Nellie Olesons, an East Coast comedy sketch group that invests the name with new comic appeal. The Nellies have earned both gay and straight fans with spoofs of late-night porn ads, gay circuit parties, beauty pageants, and sexual-offender notification laws, done stylishly and in poor taste. They'll be taking no prisoners in their new show, Pulp Nellie, which plays at 8 p.m. (and continues through Dec. 22) at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St., S.F. Admission is $12; call 861-7933.
Mystery, Intrigue, Romance What were Venetian citizens trying to hide in the time of Tiepolo? A declining economy, for one, and a vulnerability to Napoleon's advances. The exhibit "The Mask of Venice: Masking, Theater, and Identity in the Art of Tiepolo and His Time" features over 70 18th-century works, mostly prints and drawings, by Giambattista Tiepolo, his son, Domenico, and their contemporaries. The work reflects the civic unrest that fueled the city's preoccupation with festivals, particularly Carnevale, at which revelers wore commedia dell'arte masks for the event's duration, sometimes as long as six months. The inhibitions that disguised people felt free to shed is one of the exhibit's subjects; black masks, for example, connoted amorous intrigue and shady anti-state activity. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. (and is up through March 2) at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is free-$6; call (510) 642-0808.
Take It Away Your gain is someone else's gain, too, at two local art auctions. "Fun-Ding 2," an auction and performance event featuring "wacky refreshments" (eat at your own risk) and work by the muralist Rigo and several other local artists, benefits the publication of Poor Magazine Vol. II: "Hellthcare," a literary journal dealing with poverty issues. The 12th Annual Artists' Auction offers fine wines, furniture, and mail art by nationally known artists like Jenny Holzer and Claes Oldenberg, MC'd by Cliff Hengst. The Artists' Auction begins at 5:30 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $20 ($7 after 7:30 p.m.); call 626-5416. "Fun-Ding" begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Catharine Clark Gallery, 49 Geary, Second Floor, S.F. Admission is a $5 donation; call 399-1439.
Save It for a Rainy Day Long before the savings and loan scandals and the customer service backlash, when banks embodied security and community, likenesses of their buildings were molded into tiny take-home piggy banks. Over 100 miniature metal replicas of small-town banks, done in architectural styles from the 1900s up to now, are shown in the exhibit "Souvenirs of Savings: Miniature Bank Buildings From the Collection of Ace Architects," which opens at 11 a.m. (and will be up through Feb. 25) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third, S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 357-4000.
A Plug for the Unplugged Latino comedy trio Culture Clash tell you what's so funny about Che Guevara in Unplugged: 13 Years of Revolutionary Comedy, an anthology of sketches combining spoken word with rap, satire, and political improv. The Clash's collective theater background surfaces in this quick-witted and sharp-tongued treatment of social issues. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Saturday) at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $16; call (510) 849-2568.
Pick From a Flock of Flicks Women are the stars (and directors, and producers) in this year's Bay Area Multicultural Film and Video Festival, which features 40 works, over half of them made by or about women, in eight separate programs. Entrants include Dianne Huston's 1996 Academy Award nominee Tuesday Morning Ride, with Ruby Dee, and Raj, a Judah Magnes Museum competition winner. This collection of dramas, documentaries, and comedies was culled by local film groups and speaks to a wide range of ethnic and cultural sensibilities. Screenings are held at 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. (also Friday through Sunday) at the Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $6 per program; call 978-2787.
Over the River and Through the Woods The Grandmother Project is a company of nine granddaughters saluting their mothers' mothers with an evening of solo and group performance focusing on the critical connections between generations. Stand-up comedian Gail Hand, Dimensions Dance Theater principal dancer Gina Dawson, filmmaker Sonja Lindstrom, and singer/guitarist Alex Mercedes are among the women musing, through story and song, on the roles their grandmothers played in their lives. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at Luna Sea, 2940 16th St. #216C, S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 863-2989.