October 01, 1979 12:00 PM

Marian Ring, 25, is a pioneering prophet—not to mention profiteer—of solar energy. At the Pink Flamingo, her trendy art deco shop in the Chicago suburb of Barrington, she presides in a solar-powered propeller beanie amidst an array of solar playthings and housewares, including (from left) a toy fire engine, calculator, flameless cigarette lighter, AM radio and mini-cement mixer. All—like her solar oven, music box and digital watch—use a silicon solar cell to recharge their batteries. Expensive? None costs over $65. A native Chicagoan, Marian dropped out of college freshman year to tour South America and set up her own fabric-weaving business before opening the Pink Flamingo in 1977. (Her financial partner was boyfriend Dan Marrinson.) Then came the oil crunch. “It seemed energy was going to be the big thing,” she explains. “And besides, was concerned about it politically.” She researched the field, scouted inventors and then went solar last July with the slogan, “The store with stars in its pocket.” So far she has passed break-even on solar equipment and started a mail-order business. But Ring professes to be as interested in proselytizing as merchandising. “The project,” she explains, “is to bring the term ‘solar energy’ into our daily vocabulary. This is far less threatening than contemplating a complete solar heating system for the home.”

Ted Tally has been winning awards since high school for his one-acters, and now, at 27, his second full-length drama, Terra Nova, is headed for Broadway. Based on Robert F. Scott’s 1911-12 Antarctic expedition, the drama premiered at Yale, moved on to L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and is booked into Washington’s Kennedy Center next February. The son of a college librarian father and a junior high English teacher, Tally describes himself as “a real theater rat. I’d push a broom if that was the only thing available.” While growing up in Greensboro, N.C., he played Nils in I Remember Mama. He was frankly hurt when the Yale Drama School rejected him as an actor, but relieved to be accepted for his play-writing credits. They included an anti-Vietnam play for the local TV channel and a work about an Indian massacre. He entered grad school, he says, “because I was terrified of the real world,” but has now gotten over that. He writes five hours a day in a Manhattan brownstone he shares with wife Melinda Kahn, an art gallery assistant. Tally has already completed a TV movie script for CBS and a new play for Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater. As for art versus box office, Tally comments: “I don’t do work that I see only as commercial, but I’m not interested in writing a play that only my eight closest friends will enjoy.”

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