Down an unassuming corridor off Santa Monica's Fourth Street lies a little gem of a theater space -- the intimate Santa Monica Playhouse. It's the perfect venue for small productions like the one-night-only performance of Murray Meyer's autobiosolo play "Walking Back to Brooklyn: A Boy's Journey Home," which plays tonight. Proceeds benefit the "Save the Santa Monica Playhouse Campaign" -- the theater's "18-month do-or-die fundraising quest to purchase its long-time home." And the play, which is part of the playhouse's Jewish Heritage Program, tells Meyer's story of how, at age 12, he decided to run away from his Montreal home in the vague direction of Brooklyn.
8 p.m. $10. 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (310) 394-9779, ext. 1.
In "The Annihilation of Fish," James Earl Jones plays Fish, a Jamaican man who imagines he is wrestling the devil for the fate of humankind. Lynn Redgrave plays Poinsettia, whose own imagination places her in a love affair with the deceased composer, Puccini. Perhaps it's a deliberate play on the old adage about the impossibility of love between a fish and a bird ("for where will they make their home?"). Though in the film, this 'fish' and 'flower' fall in love precisely when they move into neighboring apartments. The quirky love story screens tonight as a special fundraiser for the Alpert JCC. A Q-and-A session with the producers follows.
6:30 p.m. $8 (prepaid), $10 (at the door). 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601, ext. 1320.
Speak, read, dance, watch -- practically live and breathe Yiddish this week at UCLA. They're calling it "The Art of Yiddish," an immersion program and winter Yiddish intensive. Intense, it certainly sounds. But if you choose, immersed, you certainly can be. Today alone there's a language class, a lecture on the origins and humor of juicy Yiddish expressions and a dance workshop. Closing out the week's activities on Saturday will be a production of Sholem Aleichem's "Mentshn" narrated by Ed Asner. You can, of course, participate in as many of the week's activities as you desire.
Dec. 14-21. $10-$18 (individual events), $145-$225 (cultural programs only), $330-$475 (entire week). (310) 745-1190. www.yiddishinstitute.org .
Andree Brooks, author of "The Woman Who Defied Kings" (Paragon House, $29.95) appears at the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles tonight. The "woman" she wrote of is Dona Gracia Nasi, a renaissance woman and veritable Jewish Harriet Tubman -- she helped save thousands of conversos during the Inquisition. Brooks will discuss her research of the book as well as the story of this extraordinary woman.
7 p.m. 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8644.
The University of Judaism's Platt/Boorstein Gallery has been exposing us to works by artists both established and emerging for 18 years now. In celebration of this milestone, they've put together a retrospective titled "Chai Show: 18 Years of Exhibitions 1985-2002." The show opens this week, with an artists reception to be held on Sun., Dec. 15.
Runs Dec. 15-Feb. 9. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Friday). 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 476-9777, ext. 201.
Greg Suddeth's play "Bums Luck" tells the story of how the Brooklyn Dodgers came to Los Angeles. If you think of baseball as pure Americana, this story of the games off the field may just change your perspective. Or, depending on your level of cynicism, maybe not. Catch it this weekend -- before it's outta here.
8 p.m. Nov. 15-Dec. 21. $15. The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood. (323) 957-5782.
It's not quite "About Schmidt" anymore. Holocaust survivor Louis Begley's novel of this title is about a WASP attorney dealing with his wife's recent death and his recent retirement. One of the main story lines involves his dislike for his daughter's Jewish fiancé and his being labeled an anti-Semite because of it. In the movie version, which opens today, the future son-in-law is no longer a Jewish lawyer, but rather a non-Jewish, dimwitted waterbed salesman. Jack Nicholson is already generating Oscar buzz for his performance as Schmidt. As for the changes to the story itself, you'll have to be the judge.
Opens Dec. 13. www.aboutschmidtmovie.com .