"Word for Word...has a winner on its hands"
Jean Schiffman, SF Examiner, 2/22/18

"Getting acquainted with the main character...was like encountering someone I might have met before....Many of the Bay Area's best talents were involved in the production."
Leah Garchik, SF Chronicle, 2/23/18

"Powerfully narrated by an exceptional cast...and always the story reigns supreme....Ms. Cohen is nothing short of brilliant"
Eddy Reynolds, TheatreEddys, 2/18/18


A  Z Space and Word for Word Production

Lucia Berlin: Stories

Featuring "Her First Detox", "Emergency Room Notebook 1977", "Unmanageable", "502", and
"Here It Is Saturday" 

February 14 - March 11 in Z Below

Wry, electric commentary on the dark corners, the everyday, and the oft-overlooked, these five Bay Area stories from Berlin’s posthumous A Manual for Cleaning Women illuminate her insightful, compassionate view of American society. Set to an evocative jazz score (Marcus Shelby, composer), and vivid projections (Naomie Kremer, artist) these witty stories feature a complex woman balancing motherhood, a working life, and addiction.  luciaberlin.com

"In the field of short fiction, Lucia Berlin is one of America's best-kept secrets. That's it. Flat out. No mitigating conditions."
—Paul Metcalf

Directed by Nancy Shelby and JoAnne Winter


Z Space and Word for Word are thrilled to be presenting Lucia Berlin: Stories as part of Limited Edition. Limited Edition is an Open Space partnership with CounterPulse, The Lab, ODC Theater, and Performance at SFMOMA, exploring questions of legacy and lineage through performances, discussions, and gatherings at various locations throughout the city, with commissioned texts appearing regularly online. For more information about the partnership, please visit Open Space

Special events

MAR 4 "Post Show Live! with Marcus Shelby" A Benefit for Word for Word

This installment of Lucia Berlin: Stories is a special benefit show. After the show, guests will be treated to very special live set by Marcus Shelby's jazz trio. Marcus Shelby is a world renowned jazz composer and bandleader, and frequent Z Space and Word for Word collaborator. We hope that you'll enjoy us for some hors d'oevres, drinks, and a chance to see an amazing artist perform. $75 CLICK TO PURCHASE TICKETS

FEB 25 "Lucia's Sons" Post Show talk with Lucia's Sons

Special post-show conversation with David Berlin and Jeff Berlin, Lucia's sons, speaking about their mother and her work. Includes a slide show of family portraits. Regular ticket pricing  CLICK TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Press Resources

The dedicated press agent for this show is David Hyry, who can be reached at daldenh@aol.com.

The Stories

Her First Detox:  "This had been her first experience with the police....she had never driven drunk before,never missed more than a day of work, never...She had no idea of what was yet to come."

Emergency Room, 1977: "Fear, poverty, alcoholism, loneliness are terminal illnesses.  Emergencies, in fact...  Can you hear all those sirens in the background, in the middle of the night?  More than one of them is going to pick up some old guy who ran out of Gallo port."

Unmanageable:  "In the deep dark night of the soul, the liquor stores and bars are closed."

502: "Officer Wong....was diligent and honest, an exceptional member of the Oakland police force.  We were lucky to have him in our neighborhood.  I am really sorry now about that one incident."

Here It Is Saturday: "Anything you can say about prison is a cliché.  Humiliation.  The waiting, the brutality, the stench, the food, the endlessness.... Actually, one sound you hear a lot in jail is laughter."


Cassidy Brown*
Jeri Lynn Cohen*
Ryan Williams French*
Norman Gee*
Gendell Hernandez*
Delia MacDougall*
Indiia Wilmott
Phil Wong.

Design & Production  

Karen Runk*, Stage Manager
James Cave, Lighting
Oliver DiCicco, Scenic Design
Christy Funsch, Choreography
Naomie Kremer, Video, Scenic
Michelle Mulholland, Costumes
Jacquelyn Scott, Scenic Design and Prop Design
Marcus Shelby, Original Score

*Denotes Member, Actors Equity Association

Author's Biography


Lucia Berlin (1936-2004, pronunciation: Lu-see-a) published 77 short stories during her lifetime. Most, but not all, were collected in three volumes from Black Sparrow Press: Homesick (1991), So Long (1993), and Where I Live Now (1999). These gathered from previous collections of 1980, 1984, and 1987, and presented newer work.

Early publication commenced when she was twenty-four, in Saul Bellow's journal The Noble Savage and in The New Strand. Later stories appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, New American Writing, and countless smaller magazines. Homesick won an American Book Award.

Berlin worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and most of the 1980s. By the late '80s, her four sons were grown and she had overcome a lifelong problem with alcoholism (her accounts of its horrors, its drunk tanks and DTs and occasional hilarity, occupy a particular corner of her work). Thereafter she remained productive up to the time of her early death.