Multiple Personalities Jon Jory (the believed pseudonym for Jane Martin) is theater's equivalent of Joe Klein, the journalist who denied writing the Clinton expose Primary Colors until forced to show his hand. Jory, a director with Louisville Actors Theater, has repeatedly denied that he is the elusive playwright Jane Martin, who has never publicly revealed his or her identity; many of Jory's actresses, however, have insisted that Jory is Martin, and the LAT was the first to produce Martin's debut work, 1982's Talking With, which Footloose will produce locally. Director Mary Alice Fry has spliced this collection of 11 women's monologues with an original electro-acoustic soundtrack and Ana R. Machado's video art, used either to support the monologue (like the old rodeo footage paired with a piece about the commercialization of modern rodeos), or to contradict it (like the footage of a housewife drinking tea and leading a fairly mundane life juxtaposed with her onstage predilection of dressing up as Wizard of Oz characters). The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 28) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 626-2169.
Women on the Verge of an Aesthetic Breakthrough July 7, 1994, the first play in the monthlong women's performance series the Working Women's Festival, is actually written by a man, Pulitzer finalist Donald Margulies, but it addresses a personal-professional life-balancing act that may strike a chord with some women. Kate (Suze Allen) is a doctor working at an inner-city clinic during the O.J. Simpson affair; the disparity between the lives of her patients and her family eventually leads her to an emotional breakdown. Other festival highlights include Wilma Bonet's alternately comic and heartbreaking one-woman show about the death of her 7-year-old daughter, Good Grief, Lolita!; Seattle comedy troupe Pulp Vixens in a spoof of women-in-prison dramas, Innocent Heat; and storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki in the autobiographical street-life saga The Queen's Garden. The series kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. with July 7, 1994, followed by Shakiri in And My Children's Children, a movement theater piece about the Middle Passage, at 9:30 p.m. Performances continue through March 29 at the 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $12-50; call 673-1172. Meanwhile, choreographer Jo Kreiter dances with sculpted "flying" poles and former Margaret Jenkins dancer Mercy Sidbury embarks on a terpsichorean journey through the deserts of the Southwest in the female choreographers' showcase Women on the Edge. It begins at 8 p.m. at the Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call (510) 465-3144. Check upcoming calendar listings for more Women's History Month events.
One-Hour Martyrizing Joan of Arc led soldiers into battle against the English before she was accused of being a witch and burned at the stake; Courtney Love has been called a witch and worse, and has led an army of lawyers into battle against filmmaker Nick Broomfield's new movie Kurt and Courtney, which portrays her in such an unflattering light that it's the modern equivalent of burning her at the stake. Hence Impact Theater's new show, Live Through This: The New Story of Joan of Arc, which invokes Love's presence with songs from the Hole album scattered throughout the piece. Makes sense to us! In an attempt to attract younger audiences, playwright Melissa Hillman plays down direct references to the French vs. English clash in her retelling of the tale, and retools the language to create a fast food- and slang-slinging Joan for the '90s. Jessica Meyers, of Impact's Sexual Perversity in Chicago production, is Joan in this show, which begins at 8 p.m. at Eighth Street Studios, 2525 Eighth St. (at Dwight), Berkeley. Admission is $5-10; call (510) 464-4468.
Strung Out Maybe the irony of scary clowns has worn off, but puppets and puppet shows are suddenly weirdly popular in these parts, for reasons that have yet to fully reveal themselves. The latest in a string of puppet shows (hell, puppet festivals, when you count the smutty adult puppetry Wise Fool orchestrated over Valentine's Day weekend) is Once Vaudeville, in which Philadelphian performer Kevin Augustine uses (eeek!) life-size foam rubber puppets to tell the story of vaudeville performer Matty, and his struggles to maintain both family and career. When Matty's son inherits the dying vaudeville act and Matty's nearly dead sidekick Jimmy, audiences are treated to a showdown between man and puppet. Actually, a scary clown serves as a liaison between the puppets in this show, which also incorporates butoh dance and is just a ventriloquist's dummy away from being fashionably horrifying. The performance opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 4) at City Cabaret, 450 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $15; call 931-9707.
Lasting Laugh "Old school" hardly begins to describe the comedians booked for Veterans of Comedy Wars: A North Beach Reunion: These guys go waaay back; so far back that they all played the Purple Onion and the Hungry i when they were good places for a comic to be seen, before they became a punk and a strip club, respectively. The biggest name in the "Veterans" lineup is probably Don Knotts, whose bug-eyed shtick cracked up the old folks on The Andy Griffith Show and tickled the kids in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Knotts sort of fell off the entertainment world radar after the '70s, but two of the comedians appearing with him have enjoyed a renewed popularity. Fred Willard was delightful in last year's community-theater parody Waiting for Guffman as the dim but enthusiastic travel-agent-cum-thespian Ron Albertson, a nice sequel to his work in The History of White People. Shelly Berman, an enormously popular Kennedy-era comedian, meanwhile, has been all over the Internet lately since someone began circulating an excerpt from his decades-old book A Hotel Is a Place as a letter to the editor; the book, for anyone who missed it, is a droll parody of the hospitality industry, containing exchanges like the following: "Q: What does it mean when the hotel manager looks at you with tears in his eyes and says 'I'm really very sorry?' A: Nothing." Comics Bill Dana, Jack Riley, and Ronnie Schell, an SFSU alum, also appear at this benefit for the State Athletic Scholarship Fund, which is hosted by Mayor Willie Brown and begins at 8 p.m. at the McKenna Theater, 19th Avenue & Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is $15-100; call 338-2467.