San Fran Fringe Festival Hosts 12 Days of Performances Starting 9/3
For its 17th season, the San Francisco Fringe Festival hosts 12 days'-worth of performers and performances from the Bay Area and the world. This year, it's 48 different shows at the EXIT Theatreplex and 10 additional nearby venues, all in downtown San Francisco, September 3-14.
Long-time Fringe attendees ("Fringers") love the potpourri of presentations, and newcomers are often in awe of the diversity. This year's Festival promises both high moments and high jinx.
The Los Angeles sketch comedy troupe OPM performs at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, Sept. 3-14 at the EXIT Theatreplex and other venues in downtown SF.
It's always difficult to categorize Fringe shows, but we count at least 16 dramas and dramatic monologues. There's an original re-telling of the Agamemnon story entitled Mitch. Loving Fathers by previous Festival "Best of" winner Joe Besecker is the Tale of Two lovers who lust after their own fathers. Fathers figure importantly in It Is What It Is by another Fringe "Best of" winner, Diane Karagienakos, who incorporates text-messaging and emailing into the telling. From Washington, DC comes Zehra Fazal's telling of Yukio Mishima's provocative My Friend Hitler.
On the lighter side, stand-up comic Alicia Dattner offers coy and comely insights with her Punchline. UK comedian/poet Matt Panesh is back to wow and outrage audiences, this time with Monkey Poet: The Big Brown Number Two. Thessaly Lerner brings her variety extravaganza The Ukulady's Ponyshow up from L.A. Pi, The Physical Comedy Troupe does clown vignettes, complete with red rubber noses. In Madge's Box, Harvey Rabbit (yes, it's her name) combines Phyllis Diller with Blaze Starr as a desperate housewife daring to do live burly-cue, complete with tassels.
The Fringe has sketch comedy covered, thanks to L.A.'s premier "multi-ethnic-multi-cultural-multi-hyphenate" sketch comedy troupe, OPM. (2002 Best of SF Fringe.) SF veterans Singe Entendre tackle major issues like Political Lobbying, Spelling, and Artifically Intelligent Toilets. Bitter Show sketches out There's a Monster in the Well with an "over-produced, multi-media extravaganza" that features a real fake monster and a pregnant Devilette.
Performance art & dance are represented with legendary international performance artist Sha Sha Higby's The Iron Muffin/Glass Jungle II, featuring "exotic sculptural costume & puppetry. InFluxDance from Charlottesville, VA tells a story in movement in Identity Crisis. And comedic physical actress Barbara Michaels takes Fringers on a tour of Market Street doorways in The Doormen, showing how lovers and others open doors that can change our lives.
For Fringers who like to see things leap off the page, there's late Night with the Boys: Confessions of a Leather Bar Chanteuse, readings from Alex Bond's book about singing in gay leather bars in the 1970s. Toronto's Sue Kenney tells of her personal spiritual quest walking the mediaeval pilgrimage route in Spain in My Camino, based on her book of the same name. She will enact her journey onstage with a manual treadmill and backpack.
EXIT Sign: A Rock Opera is a rock-n-roll musical adventure by Bay Area fave Carrie Baum. Powerful and catchy tunes accompany a father and daughter as they travel through time, mortality, love, and death.
Lots more - there's Mia Paschal's hilarious/bitter insight into love and lovers, Along the Path of Larks and Swallows. There's Lucy Gray's deconstruction of Hitchcock's Vertigo, To Kill For, playing at Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill. There's a series of quite explicit shows at The Center for Sex and Culture and The Garage, including Fluid, Open Season: A Queer Performance Showcase and Peg-Ass-Us.
And from Warsaw, Poland, there's that cautionary tale for all would-be reviewers, Omar Sangare's True Theatre Critic. Sangare throws down the gauntlet - Fringers are invited to write their reviews of it - and any others - on the SF Fringe web site.
The above is only a sample. For the entire menu of shows, times, and venues, go to www.sffringe.org. For a printed program, contact Gary Carr at 925-672-8717, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 12-day San Francisco Fringe Festival is an open, non-juried, uncensored international theatre festival that draws theatre companies and individual performers from the Bay Area, around the U.S., and across the world. This year's festival season runs September 3 through 14 and features over 250 performances of some 48 different theatre pieces. Ticket information is available at (415) 673-3847 or www.sffringe.org. Ticket prices range from $5 to $9.
Most Fringe shows are at the EXIT
As for the 30 companies in the 2008 SF Fringe Festival that WILL BE at the Exit Theatre and EXIT Stage Left, 156 Eddy Street, and the EXIT on Taylor at 277 Taylor Street, they include performers from the Bay Area and from New York, Los Angeles, and Denver, as well as from Washington, DC, Brooklyn, NY, St. Paul, MN, Boulder, CO, and Ridgefield Park, NJ. Three of the groups are from Canada, one is from Warsaw, Poland, and one is from Manchester, England. The British entrant is Matt Panesh, an outspoken performer who was a hit with audiences at last year's Fringe.
Other Fringe venues include
Grace Cathedral - California at Taylor
Doorways in Market St.
The Center for Sex and Culture - 1519 Mission St. (bet. 11th & S. Van Ness)
Off-Market Theatre - 965 Mission St.
Phoenix Theatre - 414 Mason St.
Boxcar Theatre - 505 Natoma St.
The Garage - 975 Howard St. (bet. 5th & 6th)
A 15-seat passenger van
A basement in an undisclosed building
Some Fringe Background
The original Fringe Festival began in Edinburgh, Scotland, more than sixty years ago, and has since become an international phenomenon. Fringe Festivals currently bring cutting-edge theatre to more than twenty cities across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Europe and Asia. San Francisco's is the second oldest in the U.S. Traditionally, international performers appear at the San Francisco festival, many of them having appeared at other Fringes, such as Toronto, Edinburgh, and Prague.
EXIT Theatre celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It produces the San Francisco Fringe Festival, the second oldest Fringe Festival in the United States and is a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF). 2008 will mark the 17th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival.
Each year, EXIT Theatre presents over 500 performances of some 100 productions by more than 75 companies and is one of San Francisco's most successful and enduring centers of alternative performance. At age 25, EXIT continues to commission, develop and produce new work and present independent artists. In addition to the San Francisco Fringe Festival, EXIT produces the annual DIVAfest, dedicated to developing new work by women writers. The EXIT Theatreplex includes EXIT Theatre, EXIT Stage Left, and EXIT Café at 156 Eddy Street, and EXIT on Taylor, around the corner at 277 Taylor Street, all in Downtown San Francisco. Visit the EXIT Theatre web site at www.theexit.org.
San Francisco magazine picked EXIT Theatre for its recent "Best of '08"issue and called it "the mother of San Francisco's underground theatre scene."
Photos of San Francisco Comedy Troupe OPM by Edward Cheung