“It's a far cry from being a gang kid in Santa Rosa,” says author Greg Sarris of his current life as an English professor at UCLA. Sarris has also written three books; the latest, Grand Avenue, has been snatched up by Robert Redford to be made into a miniseries for HBO. Grand Avenue is a book of interrelated stories about families of Pomo Indians who live on a street in Santa Rosa called — gee, what could that be? — Grand Avenue. Sarris, himself a Native American, grew up on said street with people very much like those he writes about (“It's fiction, remember!” he insists). Sarris wrote a screenplay based on his book, took it to Sundance, and met Redford. Nothing much happened, but once he started shopping it around Hollywood, writer/producer Paul Aarom (he did The Miracle Worker with Patty Duke) thought it was time to hit up Redford. Now all three are co-producing, and shooting starts in Santa Rosa in September. So why write about this? Because Sarris has given Word for Word, S.F.'s festival of staged short stories (they're presented verbatim — every damned word is spoken, if you can imagine that), the rights to one of his tales from Grand Avenue called “Slaughterhouse.” Octavio Solis directs this “painful coming-of-age tale” about a kid who lives on a street in Santa Rosa — OK, you got it already — and whose crush on a local gal ends badly when she turns to the world's oldest profession. It runs this weekend at the Bayfront Theatre.
Never Say Die
Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang, which has run for what seems like several millennia at various places, will open its own cabaret space just for this show beneath the 450 Geary Studio space. Who knew there was a beneath? Phantom of the Opera, that's who. That show, which plays right across the street, has been using the basement as a rehearsal space for its singers and will continue doing so by day. But at night … it's going to be a rockin' cabaret, dubbed Cinnebar, filled to the rafters with tourists titillated by this daring — in an '80s sort of way — farce. It'll open mid- to late August.
A friend has acquired pirated tapes of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, The Bugaloos, and HR Puff 'n Stuff, totally excellent TV shows from the early '70s and influences on my generation; slightly later, another important figure was Paul Zindel, author of “young adult” books. Remember The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and The Pigman? Not only is Zindel still around and kicking, he's writing — in fact, a play for ACT's Young Conservatory program, called Every 17 Minutes the Place Goes Crazy. It runs in August.
By Laura Jamison