Scar Tissue is back. The Dell 'Arte Players' detective heroine who set matters straight for us in the 1981 production of "Intrigue at Ah-Pah" returns locally (the Dell 'Arte group operates out of Blue Lake in Northern California) to the Cast-at-the-Circle on Friday in "The Road Not Taken."
The interim years had not been kind to her. Director Jael Wiseman explains: "The play deals with the controversy surrounding the GO road, a road connecting the towns of Gasket and Orleans in Northern California and built illegally by the forestry service. Like all of our work, it was put together as a collaborative effort of our cast, and deals with the way that the forestry service, which is supposed to be working for the general public, is exploiting the wilderness.
"There's a Vietnam vet in the story, based on the kind of guys who could never readjust to civilian life and now live in the bush; an Indian woman; a logger; and the Carsons, a family in the timber business. Like all detective stories, the issues dealt with are a reflection of larger issues. A lot of our pieces deal with the land, or politics ('Ah-Pah' was about the diversion of water to Southern California), but we're more interested in human transformations, what happens to people when they're caught in power plays."
Of Scar Tissue, he said: "She'd been down on her luck before this issue came along, working as a security guard at a local 7-Eleven store."
There's nothing like a thorny dilemma to make old heroes attractive to us once again.
There's a double meaning to Charles Green's title, "Shy of Dallas," a comedy-drama opening Jan. 23 at Theatre 40. "The play is set in Dookeybird, Tex., a small town outside of Dallas," said Green, who was born in another small Texas town called Nederland. "It deals with six junior high school teachers whose hopes are riding on the wave of Camelot, John F. Kennedy's Camelot. The play is set on the day before and the day of his arrival in Dallas in November of 1963. 'Shy of Dallas' not only refers to the town as being 75 miles distant, or shy, but of people's inability to grab the bigger things of life. In a way it's reminiscent of Chekhov's 'Three Sisters.' There they cried 'To Moscow!' Here it's 'To Dallas!' "
The theater year for 1986 is picking up momentum already. Other openings this week include, Tuesday, the South Coast Repertory's Educational Touring Program production called "Imagine That!"; on Thursday, the Peking Acrobats, a troupe whose history goes back 2,000 years, makes the local debut in its first U.S. tour Thursday at Ambassador Auditorium and will subsequently play several colleges throughout the Southland. It plays the Japan America Theatre on Saturday.
Friday: Michael Shurtleff's "A Fine Summer Night" premieres at the Night Flight; a new work called "The Big Ball Game," which recalls Vietnam and the '60s, opens at the McCadden Place Theatre and is directed by its author, Michael Herber; Robin Swados' play about the AIDS crisis, "A Quiet End," premieres at Long Beach City College's Studio Theatre (an Equity Waiver space), directed by Jules Aaron. The experimental clown-mime "new vaudeville" team of Bob Berky and Michael Moschen, a.k.a. Foolsfire, brings its latest work, "The Alchemedians," to UC Santa Barbara Tuesday and UC San Diego Friday.
LATE CUES: Chicago's 26-year-old comedy-improv theater, Second City, will open a local Los Angeles chapter in Beverly Hills in 1986. Many Second City alumnae have gone on to major comedy careers. . . . The Ford Foundation has given the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts a $225,000 grant over 39 months to help strengthen its administrative and fund-raising operations. . . . The Old Globe summer theater festival, which begins June 4 at the Simon Edison Centre for the Performing Arts in San Diego, will include the world premiere of Stephen Metcalfe's comedy "Emily," Shakespeare's "Cymbeline," "Julius Caesar" and "Much Ado About Nothing" and Moliere's "Tartuffe." "On the Fringe," written by Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore and one of the most irresistible comedies of its day, rounds out the season.