Barbara Lane’s Book Friends | 6 – 9

Tuesday, Jun 9 at 7:30pm

There are some novels and short stories you can vividly see as plays or movies while you’re reading them.  What makes a novel or short story easily adaptable into a great piece of theater or film?  What are some examples?  Which books are the most difficult to adapt?

What are the ones we thought not suited for dramatization that surprise us?

Word for Word Co-Founder and Co- Artistic Director Susan Harloe and Producer, Director and Film Festival Programmer Peter L. Stein join Barbara Lane for a spirited, wide-ranging discussion on all the above with recommendations for your viewing pleasure. 

Plus some surprise performances!

“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, directed by Margo Hall.  
Original score by Marcus Shelby.
From Word for Word’s 2008  production with The Lorraine Hansberry Theater.

Credits: Peter Macon, Da’Mon Vann, Margarette Robinson, L. Alison Payne, Robert Hampton, and Mujahid Abdul Rashid


Susan Harloe (CoArtistic Director, co-Founder of Word for Word) has originated roles in many of the company’s productions (The Standard of Living, Xingu, Rose-Johnny, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Dolly, and Anniversary!) and is the creator and manager of Word for Word’s France tour. She has an MFA from U.C. Davis, an MLS from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BA from San Francisco State University. 

Peter L. Stein‘s artistic career as a producer and presenter spans film, theater, television, museums, and online media. During 11 years at PBS station KQED, he wrote, directed, and produced a wide range of documentaries and series for national public television, garnering such prestigious honors as the Peabody Award (for his feature-length documentary The Castro) and four Emmy awards for historical, cultural, culinary and environmental programs. Most recently he directed and produced Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft, for PBS’s American Masters series.

From 2003-11 he was Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest and largest of its kind anywhere. Combining his passion for media-based stories with community engagement, the festival under Peter’s innovative curatorial direction was named by IndieWire among the top 50 film festivals in the world. He also spent three years developing in-gallery and online exhibitions for the Jewish Museum San Francisco (now the Contemporary Jewish Museum), where he was Deputy Director for Programming. In 2014 he joined the curatorial team of Frameline, San Francisco’s landmark international LGBTQI film festival, as Senior Programmer.

Word for Word Performing Arts Company Mission Statement

We perform short works of fiction in their entirety, preserving the author’s voice and honoring her/his intent with exciting visuals and inventive staging. Word for Word Performing Arts Company, a program of Z Space, is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Founded in 1993 by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, Word for Word believes in the power of the short story to provide solace, compassion, and insight into our daily lives. We bring stories from diverse cultures to our communities and develop future audiences’ love for the printed and spoken word.

Barbara Lane is the San Francisco Chronicle book columnist, Copperfield’s Books Director of Events, former JCCSF Director of Arts and Ideas.

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Book Recommendations

During the course of this conversation, numerous book titles were brought up as recommendations by the various guests.

Recommended by Barbara Lane

Barbara Lane is the San Francisco Chronicle book columnist, Copperfield’s Books Director of Events, former JCCSF Director of Arts and Ideas.

Charles Dickens Great Expectations
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Lisa Halliday Asymmetry
Ann Enright Actress
Elizabeth E. Little Pretty as a Picture
Joseph O’Neill Netherland
Jenny Offill Weather
Kenneth Grahame The Wind and the Willows 
Robert McCloskey Homer Price
Deborah Feldman Unorthodox

Also support: best of the literary internet  audio books from local independent bookstores

Recommended by Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of the novel,A River of Stars, and short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities.

Lauren Tarshis I survived (kids book series)
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo Children of the Land
Valerie Luiselli Lost Children Archive
Elena Ferrante The Lying Life of Adults, My Brilliant Friend

Recommended by Aya de Leon

Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program, teaching creative writing at UC Berkeley. Kensington Books publishes her award-winning feminist heist/romance series, Justice Hustlers.

Wendy C. Ortiz Excavation (For those who respond to My Dark Vanessa)
Carolina de Robertis Cantoras
Taylor Jenkins Reid The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones and the Six

Recommended by Ellen Sussman

Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels:  A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This.

Vanessa Hua River of Stars
Aya de Leon Sideschick Nation
Ann Napolitano Dear Edward 
Lily King Euphoria, Writers and Lovers
Kate Elizabeth Russell My Dark Vanessa