Two 'Joans,' Struggles of Gay Teen-Agers, 'Love Letters' and 'Hamlet' Take Center Stage

Janice Arkatov writes about theater for The Times

Gay teen-agers are the subjects--and authors--of "People Who Live in Glass Houses," which is playing Nov. 10 and 11 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica. The work is a dramatic exploration of contemporary social and sexual identification.

The show's director, Norma Bowles, works with troubled youths as part of a local social services group.

Bowles, whose training includes a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton and a master of fine arts degree from CalArts, said the 10-performer work is "lively and wild. It goes from sensitive to erotic, and there's a lot of rough language. But for me, the most striking thing is how much potential there is, how rich the kids' minds are. They've experienced homophobia from teachers, their churches and families have abandoned them, and now they're struggling to get through it, establish an identity. They're survivors. "

Also opening this month:

Monday: Concert Theatre Repertory presents a one-night reading of Paul Zindel's domestic drama "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" at the Tiffany Theatre in West Hollywood. The cast includes Charlie Brill, Mitzi McCall, Bonnie Franklin and Teri Ralston.

Wednesday: The Bronx-set "A Telegram From Heaven," adapted from Arnold Manoff's novel by Dennis Bailey and Dinah Manoff (and directed by the actress), premieres as part of L. A. Theatre Works' "The Play's the Thing" play-reading series at the Santa Monica Guest Quarters Suite Hotel.

Wednesday: Norwegian actress Juni Dahr returns to town with two of her one-woman shows, "Ibsen Women, Put an Eagle in a Cage" and "Joan of Arc," playing in repertory at the Tiffany Theatre.

Thursday: There's another Joan in West Hollywood. Rain Pryor has the title role in Linda Chambers' "Joan," a new drama about the life and death of Joan of Arc, opening at the Globe Playhouse.

Thursday: At the Harman Avenue Theatre in Hollywood, E. L. James' all-black musical "The Face of Love" examines the many aspects--and objects--of love.

Thursday: The second annual Venice Playwrights Festival offers nine new works--by Tim Reilly, Bruce Feld, Sybil Rosen, Bill Shick, Bill Strieb, Murphy Guyer, Tom Huey, Michael Folie and Wendy Meyers--at the Powerhouse in Santa Monica.

Friday: Caryl Churchill's cross-dressing comedy of errors, "Cloud Nine," has a revival at the Open Fist Theatre in Hollywood.

Friday: If you can get past the title, "Eating the Afterbirth," Austin Jennings' drama about ritual child abuse and a lesbian psychiatrist's coming out opens at the Third Stage in Burbank.

Saturday: "The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery," David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin's spoof of community theater, opens at the Colony Theatre in Los Angeles.

Saturday: Controversial performance artist Karen Finley comes to UCLA's Wadsworth Theatre for two nights with her solo piece about societal abuse, "We Keep Our Victims Ready."

Nov. 11: The Concert Theatre Repertory play-reading series concludes at the Tiffany Theatre with Tennessee Williams' "The Night of the Iguana," starring Howard Morton, Christina Pickles, Kristoffer Tabori and Joyce Van Patten.

Nov. 12: It's return postage for A. R. Gurney's popular two-hander, "Love Letters," which comes back to the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills for an eight-week engagement. First up on the revolving-couple roster: Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi.

Nov. 12: "The Speed of Darkness," a new drama by Steve Tesich ("Breaking Away"), opens at North Hollywood's Gnu Theatre.

Nov. 14: The classical theater ensemble A Noise Within bows with Shakespeare's "Hamlet" in the Gothic environs of Glendale's historic landmark Masonic Temple.

Nov. 15: At Plummer Park in Hollywood, the Dancing Dog Theatre Company presents "Wild Honey," a comedy of manners by Michael Frayn, adapted from a play by Anton Chekhov.

Nov. 16: "Dream Piece by Commedia Della Luna," a performance piece on the dreams of the members of Commedia Della Luna, plays a single performance at Beyond Baroque in Venice.

Nov. 16: Peter Tolan's one-act "Stay Carl Stay," a comic look at relationships in the '90s, has its West Coast premiere at Burbank's Two Roads Theatre Company.

Nov. 20: John Hopkins' politically charged "Absent Forever" continues "The Play's the Thing" series at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel. Peggy Shannon directs Edward Asner, John de Lancie, Kaitlin Hopkins and Shirley Knight.

Nov. 22: "Hydrogen Jukebox," a non-narrative multimedia collaboration of composer Philip Glass, author Allen Ginsberg, visual artist Jerome Sirlin and choreographer Ann Carlson plays two nights at UCLA's Royce Hall.

Nov. 25: The 25th anniversary production of the Tony Award-winning musical "Man of La Mancha" arrives at the Pantages in Hollywood, featuring Raul Julia and Sheena Easton.

Nov. 30: Highways kicks off "Black December," a monthlong festival of performance visual art, poetry, video, music and dance by African-American artists.

OPENING THIS MONTH

Christina Pickles and Joyce Van Patten will star in "The Night of the Iguana" at Tiffany Theatre beginning Nov. 11. The next night, Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi will open "Love Letters" at Canon Theatre, and later in the month "Man of La Mancha" will feature Raul Julia, Sheena Easton.

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