Already underway on the West Coast is the San Francisco Fringe Festival (SF Fringe), an eclectic, cutting edge collection of performance art that runs through Sept. 19. Festival organizers say the 11-day, nonstop theatrical event ranges from the wacky and wild to the intimate and introspective. The festival embraces performers and audiences of all sorts who venture through downtown San Francisco's Union Square theatre district. There, SF Fringe offers 250 performances, each under 60 minutes, by 51 theater companies and artists from around the globe.
This year marks the introduction of the ³bring your own venue² category, an alternative to indoor theaters, including a moving performance experience titled the Popcorn Anti-Theatre on the Mexican Bus. Other SF Fringe shows include Start Trekkin', a take-off on the 35 year-old Paramount franchise created by Gene Roddenberry and a personal memoir of a life-changing encounter with Duke Ellington titled Duke Ellington and Me.
Comprising something of a ³family² of Fringe Festivals from around the world, the SF Fringe participants follow the fringe tradition of showcasing the nontraditional, as well as the "not yet famous" actors, puppeteers, mimes, dancers, and musicians. Some of the acts have been around as long as 50 years.
The creative atmosphere at SF Fringe encourages the public to experience live performances at bargain prices. No show costs more than $8 per show and 100 percent of all ticket monies go the performers, organizers say.
SF Fringe performances take place in five theatres, all within easy walking distance of Union Square. These are the EXIT Theatre at 156 Eddy Street, EXIT Stage Left which is also at156 Eddy Street, the Shelton Theatre at 533 Sutter Street (lower level), the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre 620 Sutter Street, and Il Teatro 450 at 449 Powell Street (third floor). Fringe shows are spaced 90 minutes apart to allow "fringers" to move between different theatres. For more information and show times, which run between 7-10 PM, Mon.-Fri., and 1-10 PM, Sat.-Sun., call (415) 673 3847 or visit www.sffringe.org. Tickets may be purchased at performances only. Advance tickets are not available. For those who miss anything or who want to sample the best that SF Fringe has to offer, the fifth annual Best of the Fringe will feature encore performances by the most popular, unusual or outstanding fringe artists. The Best of Fringe roster will be announced Sept. 21. Performances take place at EXIT Theatre and EXIT Stage Left, Sept. 30., Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 at 7 PM, 8:30 PM and 10 PM. Tickets are $14 and can be reserved in advance by calling (415) 673-3847.
-- By Murdoch McBride