The Wallace Foundation just announced a new study by the Rand Corporation that confirms what anybody with even half a brain already knows: The effects of arts programs in schools really do trickle up to the adult society in terms of quality of life issues such as the economy, as well as “seeding” future artists and arts patrons — in case you still think the arts are just a luxury.

Actor-director Alan Mandell (also former managing director of the Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Theatre Center) turns 81 this week — just about 50 years after performing in Waiting for Godot in a history-making performance at San Quentin prison. Beckett followers wrongly presumed that the “esoteric” play spoke only to the intellectual elite. In fact the San Quentin inmates responded to it with more enthusiasm than most tourists respond to shows on Broadway. Something about all that waiting, while incarcerated by life, for some illusory redemption. The play was staged by the gallows. The San Francisco Chronicle has a fine article about Mandell's return visit to the prison last week, though some of the reader comments may have you reaching for a barf bag.

At your fingertips: the coming weekend's Comprehensive Theater Listings; last week's New Theater Reviews; and last week's Stage Feature on three plays about erotica.

This blog is down until Friday, January 2. Happy holidays, and see you next year. — SLM

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