Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Harris Center to Host AN EVENING WITH PETER COYOTE, 1/29


He's a man of many talents - respected actor, Emmy award-winning narrator, distinguished writer, and activist, along with being a songwriter, guitarist and singer. Now Peter Coyote comes to Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom to share his reflections on a life that includes "doing the Sixties" in San Francisco and chairing the California Arts Council in the '70s as an appointee of then and now Governor Jerry Brown.

Peter Coyote began his film career at 39, after living nearly fifteen years in the counter-culture during the 1960s and 70s. Since then, he has performed as an actor for some of the world's most distinguished filmmakers in over 100 films, including: Barry Levinson, Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, Steven Spielberg, Walter Hill, Martin Ritt, Steven Soderberg, Diane Kurys, Sidney Pollack and Jean Paul Rappeneau. He also is an Emmy Award-winning narrator of over 165 documentaries and 17 audiobooks; a distinguished writer who has penned his own memoir, "Sleeping Where I Fall," and contributed to other books and publications and a politically-engaged person who has championed a multitude of causes

An Evening with Peter Coyote will be presented Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are priced at $19-$29; Premium $39; Students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at or from the Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.

Born in New York City in 1941, Peter's involvement with both politics and acting began early in high school. At fourteen he was a campaign worker in the Adlai Stevenson presidential campaign in his home town of Englewood New Jersey. Two years later, he began acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.

While attending Grinnell College in Iowa, Peter was one of the organizers of a group of twelve students who went to Washington during the Cuban Missile crisis and fasted for three days, protesting the resumption of nuclear testing, and supporting President Kennedy's "peace race." President Kennedy invited the group into the White House (the first time protesters had ever been so recognized), and they met for several hours with MacGeorge Bundy. This meeting received national front-page media attention, and the Grinnell group reproduced the coverage and sent it to every college in the United States, precipitating the first mass student demonstration of 25,000 in Washington, in February of 1962.

After graduating from Grinnell College with a BA in English Literature Coyote moved to the West Coast to pursue a Master's Degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. There he joined the radical street theater, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he was soon acting, writing and directing. He directed the first cross-country to tour of The Minstrel Show, Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel, a highly controversial piece closed by the authorities in several cities. The cast was arrested several times before a tour of eastern colleges and universities, ending triumphantly in New York City, where they were invited and sponsored by comedian Dick Gregory. The following year, a play, Olive Pits, that Peter co-wrote, directed and performed in, won a Special OBIE from New York's Village Voice newspaper.

From 1967 to 1975, Peter took off to "do the Sixties" where he became a prominent member of the San Francisco counter-culture community and founding member of the Diggers, an anarchistic group who supplied free food, free housing and free medical aid to the hordes of runaways who appeared during the Summer of Love. The Diggers evolved into a group known as the Free Family which established chains of communes around the Pacific Northwest and Southwest. Many of the stories of that period are included in his memoir called "Sleeping Where I Fall," published by Counterpoint Press. One of the stories incorporated into his book is "Carla's Story," which was awarded the 1993-1994 Pushcart Prize, a national prize for excellence in writing, published by a non-commercial literary magazine.

In 1975, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Mr. Coyote a member of the California State Arts Council, the State agency which determines art policy. After his first year, he was elected Chairman by his peers three years in a row, and during his tenure as Chairman, the Council's overhead expenses dropped from 50% to 15%, the lowest in the State, and the Arts Council budget rose from one-to-fourteen million dollars annually. It has never been higher since.

These political victories, among others, fostered Peter's decision to re-enter acting. He began to work at San Francisco's award-winning Magic Theater doing plays continuously "to shake out the rust" and get his unused skills back in working order. While playing the lead in the World Premiere of Sam Shepard's True West, he was spotted by a Hollywood agent who asked to represent him. To this day, Peter is still acting, along with doing voice-overs in over 120 films, including "The Meiji Revolution" episode, part of the PBS American Experience ten-part series called The Pacific Century, for which he won an Emmy.

Related Articles View More Sacramento Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You