Jim Grimsley's newest play for young audiences asks a question well beyond most adults: What is the meaning of peace if we have to kill for it? In answer, War Daddy describes an old war fought by kids. The conflict is set in an unnamed country; teenage soldiers have been forced to join opposing sides, and the action follows the two groups to their inevitable meeting.
The play's press materials quote Young Conservatory Director Craig Slaight rather naively saying, "From school shootings to out-and-out war, violence is an unfortunate fact of life for every child growing up today," as if kids facing injury and death were a new phenomenon. But playwright Grimsley's long pedigree, rich in awards, and director W.D. Keith's heavy acting chops look plenty able to pull the production away from such suburban assumptions and into real answers. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at Zeum in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 221 Fourth St., S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
That Doggy in the Window
The "awws" from Market Street are almost deafening as the SPCA continues its "Holiday Windows" tradition, displaying adoptable dogs and cats starting at 10 a.m. in the big glass bays of Anthropologie, 800 Market S.F. Admission is free; call 434-2210.
-- Joyce Slaton
You know how some grown women are crazy about Sanrio products? We know some 37-year-old men who hoard their Mr. Lunch pencils like gold. J. Otto Seibold, the creator of the inexplicably obsession-inducing Mr. Lunch supply line, is a local boy made good -- he's from Martinez. He's also the illustrator of Olive, the Other Reindeer, which became a TV special. At the moment, he's back on home turf to sign copies of his latest endeavor, Alice in Pop-Up Wonderland, a retelling of Lewis Carroll's famous stories from "down the rabbit hole." See him at 2 p.m. at the SFMOMA's MuseumStore, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call 357-4035 or visit www.sfmoma.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
All Strung Out
Are the gods of holiday hell running you ragged? Take the kids to Jim Gamble Puppet Productions' Nutcracker and watch someone else's strings get pulled for a change. Marionettes enact the classic tale of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, with effigies on strings playing characters from the Land of the Sweets: martial toy soldiers, bouncing Cossack acrobats, and more. The puppets perform at 1 p.m. at the Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 554-9600 or see www.randallmuseum.org.
-- Jack Karp