Fisher's Fast Times Reading and writing take a back seat to romping in playwright John Fisher's new work, U.C., a Farce. Fisher knows from farce, after all: His previous works have included A History of Homosexuality in Six Scenes as well as the wickedly funny hit Medea, the Musical. And as an instructor and doctoral candidate in UC Berkeley's dramatic arts department, Fisher is in a prime position to observe the sexual shenanigans and PC debates that play out among students and faculty under the guise of higher learning. U.C., the first of Fisher's plays to preview off the Berkeley campus, features players from Medea's Sassymouth cast (many of whom are or were UC students themselves) and Fisher himself, playing ... a graduate student and instructor. The show runs for one night only at 8 p.m. at the Stage Door Theater, 420 Mason, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 433-9500.
Dancing Days The first screening in the New Main Library's monthlong spotlight on dance features the Paris Opera Ballet in Paris Dances Diaghilev, a 1992 video capturing the French company's performances of Ballet Russe repertory works Afternoon of a Faun and Les Noces. The timing is nice: The French company itself is coming to the States next weekend for a two-night gig in Berkeley. It's been said more than once that dance is too ephemeral an art to capture on film, but attempts are still worthwhile, particularly when the artists are no longer with us. Such is the case in the second screening on Jan. 9, Martha Graham in Performance, which showcases the modern dance classic Appalachian Spring. Other films subjects include the Aboriginal dancers who inspired Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian in Road to Stomping Ground (Jan. 16), works by contemporary companies Momix and Lar Lubovich (Jan. 23), and Bill T. Jones' Dancing to the Promised Land (Jan. 30). Screenings are held Thursdays at noon at the New Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4515.
Solo Duo Italy comes to us, channeled by Ugo Baldassari, who directs his daughter, Julia Baldassari-Litchman, in the one-act plays A Woman Alone and Love Duet for a Solo Voice. The Italian playwriting team of Franca Rama and Dario Fo, whose 40-year collaboration has yielded such productions as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, wrote a series of one-woman plays under the title "All Home, Bed, and Church" during the '70s feminist movement in Italy; the one-acts staged here are part of that series. Woman is a comic monologue by a lower-middle-class Milanese housewife who tells her neighbor of her unhappy life trapped in a well-appointed apartment with an abusive husband. Duet is an updated take on a ribald Renaissance romance, as told from the woman's perspective. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs for two weekends, through Jan. 12) at the Next Stage, 1648 Bush, S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 648-6467.
Wanderlust While thousands of American kids are itching for that day of autonomy when they can kiss their high schools and hometowns goodbye, Aboriginal boys are expected to strike out on their own for a full six months in the deserts of the Australian Outback. This rite of passage propels Nicolas Roeg's 1971 film Walkabout, a tale of two cultures in which a boy on his walkabout befriends a pair of deserted urban youngsters. This screening is notable for two reasons -- it marks the first time Roeg's 100-minute, uncut version of the film has played locally, and the film itself has never been available on home video in the United States. But the best reason to go see it is to marvel at the stark beauty of the landscape and the width and breadth of the world. Walkabout plays at 2, 4:30, 7, and 9:25 p.m. (through Jan. 9) at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro, S.F. Admission is $4-6.50; call 621-6120.
Shine On They've taken their name from the men's hairstyling tonic, and their musical cues from the jangled-up likes of R.E.M. and latter-day Replacements. East Bay-based foursome the Brilliantines (whose collective resume includes playing time with Naked Barbies) specialize in harmonic balladry, and have kept onstage company with popsters including the Plimsouls and Cake, as well as singer/guitarist Chris Whitley, with whom they share a slide-guitar bond. The Brilliantines take a headlining slot, prefaced by Warm Wire and Telto, at 9:30 p.m. at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. Admission is $6; call 621-4455.
Fine Lines By now, Western readers are familiar with haiku, the spare, unrhymed Japanese poetry that distills the essence of a moment through aspects of nature and human nature. Haiga, the illustrations that traditionally accompany haiku, are done either by the poet or an admiring reader. Modernist painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright was one such reader, and an exhibit of his haiga, "Prints of the Haiku," features 20 woodblock prints created for six poets. From 1966 to 1967, Macdonald-Wright produced preliminary oil paintings for each haiku, which he then reproduced in woodblocks with collaborator Clifton W. Karhu, who suggested the use of Japanese textile dyes to produce more vivid colors. The haiga accompany works such as Basho's "Bright red sun cruelly hot but the wind is of autumn," and range stylistically from abstract to figurative. The exhibit opens at noon (and continues through Feb. 13) at the Joseph Chowning Gallery, 1717 17th St., S.F. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free; call 626-7496.
Cinema for Small Fry As long as lesbian and gay, animated, short, multicultural, and international film festivals are flourishing around these parts, it would seem that a film fest for the kids is also in order. The Sixth International Children's Film & Video Festival features selections from Sweden, Thailand, Ireland, and the Czech Republic, as well as from English-speaking countries. Thoughtful programmers have arranged to have subtitles recounted aloud for younger viewers who haven't yet learned to read. The two-month festival begins today with an animated version of The Wind in the Willows narrated by Vanessa Redgrave and featuring the voice of Monty Python's Michael Palin. Program highlights also include the story of two boys rafting through Thailand to Bangkok in The River Chao Phraya (Jan. 12); Wanted: Grandfather, on a boy's search for a whistling instructor (Jan. 19); Chess Kids, a documentary featuring interviews with young competitors (Feb. 9); and The Boy From Mercury, in which a lonely youth imagines that he and his dog possess super powers (Feb. 2). Also, kids can meet with filmmakers, some of whom will appear in person. The festival begins at 3:30 p.m. (and continues Sundays through Feb. 23) at the Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Admission is $3.50 for both kids and adults; call (510) 642-1412.
Mod Mondays A poll of visitors to the S.F. Museum of Modern Art has revealed that Monday, the traditional "closed day" in the museum world, is a much more convenient gallerygoing day than Wednesday. Among those surveyed were people who visited the city for business conventions or long weekends and people who get time off on public holidays, which often fall on Monday. So the museum's management and trustees decided that beginning this month, the MOMA will be closed on Wednesdays and open on Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., making it the area's only museum to be open on that day. The SFMOMA celebrates with a party in honor of the new hours, its second year in the new building, and its 62nd year in existence, with slices of tiramisu sculpted by Hyatt Regency Executive Chef Tony Breeze to resemble the museum. It begins at 11 a.m. at SFMOMA, 151 Third St., S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 357-4000.
But of Course Francophiles and cinema buffs are invited to the French Film Club series, which will be screening French movies (with English subtitles). The first of these, Yves Robert's La Gloire de Mon Pere, is based on writer Marcel Pagnol's charmed childhood in rural, turn-of-the-century Provence, and is told from an 11-year-old boy's point of view; the sequel, La Chateau de Ma Mere, plays the following week. Daniel Auteuil stars in the series' last two films, Jean de Florette and its sequel, Manon des Sources (known in English as Manon of the Spring), in which a farm family becomes entangled in passion and tragedy. The films screen Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (through Jan. 28) at the Alliance Francaise, 1345 Bush, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 775-7755.
Cuckoo for "Kat" Creator Maus cartoonist and illustrator Art Spiegelman, painters Willem de Kooning and Jay DeFeo, and Zippy creator Bill Griffith all have one thing in common besides an artistic bent. They are admirers of the late cartoonist George Herriman, creator of Krazy Kat, which debuted in the Oct. 28, 1913, edition of the New York Journal. These artists and several others acknowledge Herriman's influence in the group show "Homage to George Herriman," which opens with a reception at 5 p.m. (and is up through Feb. 8) at the Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, 645 Chestnut, S.F. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free; call 441-8680.
America the Infrared It isn't a roomy, skylit space, but what the Downstairs Gallery lacks in physical amenities it makes up for in eye-catching exhibits. Among these is Amelia Tierney's black-and-white infrared film exhibit "American Photographs." Tierney snaps scenes and objects in their natural states, but the infrared film registers light invisible to the naked eye, and changes the tones in the photos, often giving them a surreal, glowing edge. "American Photographs" is up through Feb. 14 at the Downstairs Gallery, UC Extension Center, 55 Laguna, S.F. Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free; call 252-5221.
Correspondent's Course Sam Jameson, a longtime Tokyo-based foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, offers some insight on parliamentary and economic upheaval in Japan that may interest local businesspeople as well as fellow journalists in his lecture "Two Big Problems in Japan Today: Political Reform and Economic Vitality." The program begins at 5:45 p.m. at the Japan Society of Northern California, 312 Sutter, Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 986-4383.