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THEATER NOTEBOOK

'Flame's Call' Ignites Insights by Portraying Everyday Characters

March 11, 1990|JANICE ARKATOV

"There are no heads or tails in theater of the absurd," pronounced Nitza Henig, two of whose plays are included in a trio of one-acts opening this weekend at the Shepard Theatre Complex in Hollywood under the title of one of them, "Flame's Call."

Her first piece, "Repercussions," deals with the triangle of a mother, father and grown daughter, a relationship unfolded in a series of letters. "After a child leaves home, what's left?," asked Henig, an Israeli native. The monologues, she said--"hopefully like a long poem"--revolve around "looking to the past and trying to reach an understanding. Of course parents make mistakes; we're all imperfect. That's reality."

Her longer piece, "Flame's Call," also uses everyday characters as metaphors for larger issues. "It's a black comedy, based on a woman who has a little job in a hospital, who's looking for love--everywhere and anywhere," she said. "Her emotions are bigger than life, and love is a very strong need."

A former actress and director who founded Minneapolis' experimental Theatre From the Center in 1978, Henig's immersion in writing seven months ago has resulted in three plays. She will see another of her works, "Strange Voyage," staged at the Burbage in April.

The middle piece of the evening is Samuel Beckett's "Rockaby." "It's about a woman who sits in a rocking chair listening to voices," Henig said. "For people who like strange theater, it's a good piece to see. But Beckett is not very optimistic."

Also this month:

Tuesday: Maurice Noel's "Canaan Land," whose characters include "an aging stripper . . . and a tart in a wheelchair" opens at the Cast-at-the-Circle Theatre in Hollywood.

Italian actor Dario D'Ambrosi returns to Hollywood's Stages Trilingual Theatre in his acclaimed "Nemico Mio" (Enemy of Mine) and, on March 20, in a new work, "La Trota" (The Trout). Both will be performed in English.

Thursday: Van Nuys' California Cottage Theatre opens Roy Brocksmith's "Heddy!," a seven-character musical drama "freely adapted" from Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler."

In North Hollywood, Group Repertory plays host to a revival of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter," about the comic trials of an English theater star.

Friday: Studio City's Theatre West presents its second annual Theatre West Fest, a seven-week festival featuring 16 pieces generated in the theater's acting, writing and directing workshops.

Caroline Kava's "The Early Girl," a seriocomic character study set in a house of prostitution, gets a revival at the Attic Theatre in Hollywood.

The five members of the Supreme Court who voted to uphold the Georgia sodomy statute are kidnaped and put on trial in Charles A. Larson's "To Be Left Alone," premiering at the Burbage Theatre in West Los Angeles.

Saturday: Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Raymond Galvin's "Spite the Devil for Awhile," a six-character comedy about an Irish immigrant family in 1940s New Jersey, makes its premiere at Theatre/Theater in Hollywood.

Saturday: Harold Gould is Sigmund "Freud" in Lynn Roth's one-man biographical drama, playing three performances only at the University of Judaism's Gindi Auditorium in West Los Angeles.

March 19: After a six-year absence, the famed improv troupe "War Babies" will be reunited for a three-night benefit for director Ted Schmitt at the Cast Theatre. "This Time It's Personal" stars Maryedith Burrell, Caren Kaye, Susan Krebs, Marsha Meyers, Jed Mills, Renny Temple and John Welsh.

March 20: Twenty-one years after its New York debut (which featured Larry Hagman), Jay and Fran Landesman's "The Nervous Set"--billed as "the only beatnik musical revival and updated with rearranged music"--opens at the Heliotrope Theatre in Hollywood. Tommy Wolf wrote the music.

March 21: Fresh from an appearance at the White House, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams return to Los Angeles with tales of Tuna, "the third-smallest city in Texas," in their long-running, long-touring comedy hit, "Greater Tuna," opening at the Westwood Playhouse.

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