Jake Kasdan is establishing a career as a writer-director, like his famous father, Lawrence Kasdan, but is focusing on theater rather than film.

"It's a lot more exciting being in front of a live audience," said Kasdan, explaining his enthusiasm for theater. "It's more dangerous. Anything can happen."The 20-year-old Hollywood resident wrote, directed and co-produced "The Behavioral Patterns of Funnyman Tyler Hudson," which just opened at the Hollywood Playhouse. It's his fourth theatrical project in Los Angeles, following "The Nature of Things, A Love Mystery," "Daylight Savings" and "Trouble Sleeping."

While he's unsure whether he eventually will apply his theatrical experience to film or television, he insists he's not using the theater as a training ground.

He said his father - the writer-director of such films as "Body Heat" and "The Big Chill" - has read most of the scripts and offered feedback. "He's very respectful of me. . . . He's interested in my work, and to whatever degree he can help, he helps."

"Funnyman" tells the story of a stand-up comic who works by day outlining maps for the Auto Club. It's scheduled through Jan. 8 at 1445 N. Las Palmas Ave. Call (310) 275-1995.

- For black playwrights: The Mark Taper Forum is backing a program to nurture African-American playwrights.

L. Kenneth Richardson - best-known as director of George C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum" - proposed the project known as "BLACKSMYTHS." Nine Los Angeles-based writers are meeting twice a month to offer comments on each other's work.

The program will culminate in June with a public symposium about the state of African-American theater, a workshop production and three staged readings of participants' plays. Richardson hopes producers will attend the event to discover new material for their theaters.

"Black music makers - particularly the rap artists - are having a tremendous effect on American culture right now," he said. "Black filmmakers are having a tremendous effect. And I want black theater artists to take their rightful place in our culture."