New Play on Homeless Has Something to Sing About

Street people sing--and don't count on hearing any spoken words--in Michael Kearns and Darien Martus' "Homeless," a 12-character contemporary urban opera, opening this weekend at Theatre/Theater in Hollywood. "The voices of the homeless have as much to say as anybody else," Martus said. "We not only give them a voice, we make them sing."

Kearns conceived "Homeless" last year when he was touring his one-man show "intimacies" in San Francisco. He promptly took to the streets with Martus to research his subjects, who are represented here in a cross-section of age and ethnicity. "The plot develops around two women--a young black runaway who's newly homeless--and pregnant--and a seasoned white trash hooker who's also pregnant," Martus said.

Although the setting is dire, he promises neither a downer nor a civics lesson: "I approached it as an artist, not an activist. If it raises social consciousness, that's fine."

With "Homeless" on its feet, co-producers Martus and Kearns will head downtown to the Los Angeles Theatre Center, where Kearns' "more intimacies" opens Tuesday. (On Thursdays at the Theatre Center, Kearns will reprise his original "intimacies," in which he creates a poignant gallery of characters--male and female--who have contracted AIDS.)

"The characters in 'more intimacies' are clearer, more focused; you get right to the heart of who these people are," said Martus, who has written the scores for both pieces. "Immediately I found the music in these people--as I do with people in real life. Specifically, the music in 'more intimacies' is more acoustic, less electronic. There are no mikes, no echoes. I liked the immediacy of having the acoustic instruments creating sound right there."

Also opening this month:

Today: "Wake Up and Smell the Dead," a new comedy show out of Chicago featuring sketch comedy and live jazz, opens at Hollywood's Tamarind Theatre.

Tuesday: Canada's Cirque du Soleil returns to the Santa Monica Pier, promising all-new fun and thrills in "Nouvelle Experience."

Wednesday: Excerpts from "The King and I," "West Side Story," and "Gypsy"--plus many other musicals--are restaged in the Tony Award-winning "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" at the Shubert in Century City.

Thursday: Amy Irving is Heidi Holland, Ph.D., coping with the modern world, in Wendy Wasserstein's "The Heidi Chronicles" (which won a Tony and a Pulitzer), at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood.

Thursday: Actor-playwright Bo White examines the long-range effects of child abuse in "Manner of Trust," opening at the Heliotrope Theater in Hollywood.

Friday: Composer and performer Kirby Tepper brings his cabaret act, "kirbysomething," to the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood.

Saturday: Kedric Robin Wolfe revives his one-man "Warren's Story, In Performance," at the Daniel Saxon Gallery Theatre ( nee Saxon-Lee) in West Hollywood.

Oct. 15: A movie star, a feuding car dealer, a hairdresser, an Australian guitar picker, a would-be adventurer and a piano-playing ghost come together in Gale Baker Shick's new country musical, "Waterin' Hole," at the Tamarind.

Oct. 16: Sam Shepard's black comedy "Action" opens at the Fig Tree Theatre in Hollywood.

Oct. 17: Three sisters and their immigrant parents are united at Chinese New Year in Karen Huie's "Songs of Harmony," premiering at East West Players in Hollywood.

Oct. 18: San Francisco is the setting for Stephen Sachs' adaptation of Vikram Seth's best-selling novel-in-verse, "The Golden Gate" (1986), premiering at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

Oct. 20: Pat Harrington, Marian Mercer and Elaine Giftos are the benighted Artie, Bananas and Bunny in John Guare's dark comedy "The House of Blue Leaves" at the Skylight Theatre in Hollywood.

Oct. 21: Robin Saex ("It's a Girl!") directs the West Coast premiere of Cynthia Heimel's comedy, "A Girl's Guide to Chaos," at the Tiffany in West Hollywood.

Oct. 25: Four volatile workers collide in a computer-age microfiche plant in Doug Gower's "The Big Explanation," at the Matrix Theatre in West Hollywood.

Oct. 26: Capitalist Russia in the 21st Century is the setting for Barry Collins' treatise on heroes and steroids, "The Strongest Man in the World," opening at West Coast Ensemble in Hollywood.

Oct. 28: The Celtic New Year is celebrated at Hollywood's Celtic Arts Center with music, children's games, food booths, and instruction in dance and Gaelic--all free, followed at night with a concert and Celtic ghost stories.

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