( 1953- )
Garner, who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, began writing at an early age and won publication in the National Scholastic Short Story Contest at the age of sixteen. (One of the judges was Joyce Carol Oates.) At the University of Tennessee, Garner majored in English and wrote for the student newspaper, while publishing short stories in small literary magazines. Her first stage production was of two one-acts at the university in 1980. In 1982 she moved to San Francisco where she continued to write plays. Garner has had productions throughout the Bay Area and in Los Angeles. Her most widely known play, Livin' on Salvation Street, is distinguished by its idiomatic Southern speech and manners and gently eccentric characters, whose lineage is linked to Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty. Following a successful production at Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco in the mid- 1980s, the play was produced in Los Angeles where it was directed by Dorothy Lyman. Theatre Rhinoceros revived the play for their eighteenth season. Garner continues to live and work in San Francisco. She is at work on a new play, Romeo and the Apothecary's Wife.
Livin' on Salvation Street is a largely realistic, coming-of-age, dark comedy that captures the repressiveness of the 1950s for gay teenagers. The play details one eventful week in the life of three generations of an all-female family. Granny Blue, who lives on the memories of a brief career as a gospel singer, pressures her rebellious granddaughter, Wilma, to carry on her musical aspirations. The mother, a tour guide in Cave City, Kentucky, where they all live, mediates between the irascible matriarch and her daughter, who with her tomboyish, un-