April 04, 1977 12:00 PM

Kirsten Agresta, 6, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich, displayed unusual musical talent at an early age. When most babies are learning to talk, she was singing in perfect pitch. At 2 she played the piano, and at 4½ she wrote a love song for a cousin’s wedding. Shortly before her fifth birthday, Kirsten began playing a scaled-down harp with such dedication that she got blisters on her tiny fingers. Learning the instrument was, she says, “sort of like wearing new shoes. You wear them for a while, then take them off, then put them on again.” Her mother, Valerie, who holds a master’s degree in music and is a former Miss Michigan, taught Kirsten to read music with big notes she drew on paper. In addition to the piano and harp (a full-size one has been ordered), Kirsten also plays the marimba and has started violin lessons. She would like to begin the guitar, but must wait until her hands are larger. Her parents have turned down offers for professional performances, but, says Mrs. Agresta, “for her own confidence, we like her to play before nonprofit groups.” Kirsten has a ready answer when asked about her favorite composers: “Mozart, Chopin and John Denver.”

Christopher Durang is a playwright who believes, “There are no solutions to the problems of our lives.” This spring his latest play, A History of the American Film, a satire on the national obsession with movies, will be produced in Hartford, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. In Film, Loretta, Jimmy, Bette and Hank move from the days of innocent silents to a disaster epic. An earlier play, The Vietnamization of New Jersey (A American Tragedy), Durang’s comic vision of the disintegration of a family, premiered recently at the Yale Repertory Theater. One critic said, “It is not so far removed from Saturday Night Live, except that Mr. Durang is wilder and shaggier.” Durang, 28, says the comedy started off as a 14-page skit based on David Rabe’s antiwar play Sticks and Bones. Durang wrote his first play, a musical called Banned in Boston, while a seventh grader in Morristown, N.J. As a senior at Harvard he submitted four one-act plays to the Yale Graduate School of Drama, where three years ago he received a master’s degree. “Comedy has something to do with my personality,” says Durang, who lives in New York when he’s not on the road with one of his productions. “I tend to want to deal with serious things on a comic level. Things that strike me as distressing or hopeless often seem so extreme that they cross into that area where they are funny.”

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