Aisle Seat

They Came From the East
As ACT goes home to its renovated digs at the quake-damaged Geary this January, its production of The Tempest will face some interesting competition. Berkeley Rep has made a bold move, muscling in on former ACT territory at Marines Memorial Theatre, where the Rep has booked a sure-fire audience draw: Anna Deveare Smith in her show Twilight. Whatever this suggests about the Rep's future in San Francisco, we'll have the benefit of two bang-up productions in Union Square come the new year.

The Misses Thang
The Third Annual Festival Latino of New Plays, presented by El Teatro de la Esperanza with the support of TENAZ (Teatros Nacionales de Aztl‡n), continues this week with some interesting staged read-ins. Loving Rage, for example, was penned by Evelina Fern‡ndez, author of the well-received show How Else Am I Supposed to Know I'm Alive, which Teatro Campesino toured. L.A. resident Fern‡ndez also appeared in the prison movie American Me as the wife of the character played by Edward James Olmos (his work on that representation of prison gangs won Olmos a few threats on his life). She also originated one of the principle roles in Zoot Suit back in 1977 at the Mark Taper Forum. Another promising script to check out is Guillermo Reyes' Deporting the Divas, a follow-up to his Man on the Verge of an Hispanic Breakdown, which enjoyed a successful run at Theatre Rhinoceros in 1994. Related vignettes comprise this new work; one example is “Miss Fresno,” the story of a drag queen who wins her local beauty pageant only to be found out when she travels to San Diego to compete for the coveted Miss California title. TENAZ, by the way, is a 25-year-old coalition of teatros, spearheaded in the early days by Campesino's Luis Valdez.

Reunited at Last
Eighteen years ago, actor Jarion Monroe and the current artistic director of Marin Shakespeare Company, Robert Currier, co-founded Ukiah Players' Theater. One of their first projects was an evening of Shakespeare scenes. They found Richard III so enthralling, they vowed to mount it in partnership one day in the future. That day has finally come: Monroe (along with Ken Grantham) stars in Richard III at Currier's theater, Marin Shakes. Another reunion of sorts: Yuriko Doi worked on Minoru Betsuyaku's Elephant, a 1962 play about the bombing of Hiroshima, when she lived in Auckland, New Zealand. Now, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the bombing, she's mounting it at her Theater of Yugen.

By Laura Jamison

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