21st Annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, Sept 5-16, Spotlights Performances That Surprise and Delight

Over 200 performances of 42 shows in 12 days at the EXIT Theatreplex,

plus performances at a bar and on a bus

 The San Francisco Fringe Festival turns 21, yet refuses to mature and play it safe.  The 2012 version promises another 40+ shows full of wit and vinegar, bringing theatre performances often raw and raucous, but nearly always remarkable.

Puppeteers from San Diego perform The Collector, a mixture of toy theatre, table-top puppets, object theatre, stop motion animation and film.  A solo artist from Madrid, Spain creates an enchanting dance piece in L’extimite.  An ensemble of improvisors takes its audience on a bus ride through San Francisco for a theatrical journey with Sugar High: A Brechtian b*tch slap.  And the simple love story, Jesus Do You Like Me? Please Mark Yes or No tangos with Catholicism, romance, family, and the city of Cincinnati.

The 21st Annual San Francisco Fringe Festival will run for twelve days, September 5-16, 2012, in downtown San Francisco.  Forty of the shows, numbering over 250 performances, will be at the EXIT Theatreplex, 156 Eddy Street and around the corner at 277 Taylor Street, all in downtown San Francisco.  Two others will be presented in “Non-Traditional Fringe Venues” – that bus cruising San Francisco and the blues musical Tyrone “Shortleg” Johnson and Some White Boys at the 50 Mason Social House, around the corner from EXIT Theatre.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on tap for the 2012 SF Fringe, with performers from the Bay Area, all over the U.S., and from Canada and Spain.

Legacy of the Tiger Mother (Las Vegas, NV) is a musical journey with Lily, a first generation Chinese immigrant, and her daughter Mei as they endure the trials and tribulations of old school parenting in a new country.  East meets west in this funny, irreverent and moving story about a mother, a daughter, a piano, and tough love, Asian style.

Lynn Craig & Satomi Hofman singing “Lazy White Childten” from The Legacy of Tiger Mother by Angela Chan, part of the 2012 San Francisco Fringe Festival. Photo: Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation

Weightless (SF) is two parts rock concert, one part Greek tragedy. San Francisco-based soul band Kate Kilbane & the Cellar Doors re-envision Ovid’s tale of Procne and Philomela – two sisters bound by love and separated from one another by a jealous king – in this vibrant, genre-bending rock musical.

Calling America: Don’t Hang Up! (Los Angeles) is one of several Fringe show this year with a heavy political bent.  R. Sky Palkowitz, “The Delusional Diva,” shows what happens when a pot-smoking Jewish lesbian punk-rocker clown from New York goes to work for one of the most conservative think tanks in the nation.

R. SKY Palkowitz, The Delusional Diva in CALLING AMERICA: DON’T HANG UP! in the 2012 San Francisco Fringe Festival. Photo Credit: Jason Jenn

In The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised (Vancouver, B.C.), Glen Callender, creator of the notorious Foreskin Awareness Booth (“Astounding… hilarious and informative” — SFWeekly) returns with a mind-blowing educational-comedy show that explains why he loves his…well…you know.

The Wounded Stag & other Cloven-Footed Tales of Enchantment (SF) pairs Dan Carbone & Andrew Goldfarb in otherworldly songs and stories about demon children, demon blackbirds, demon frogs, demon Eskimos, demon deer, demon priests, demon kittens and most of other popular demon-speil beloved by all the people. Billed as “The only exhibition of its type in North America.”  Having seen Carbone perform in the past, we have no doubt.

Pi: The Physical Comedy Troupe (SF) return to the Fringe with The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid, with incredible acrobatics, high speed horse races, and duels to the [overly dramatic] death.

Bruce Glaseroff, Andrew P Quick, Leah Gardner, Tyler Parks, and Jon Deline in Pi: The Physical Comedy Troupe’s show The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid, part of the 2012 San Francisco Fringe Festival. Photo: Eric Gillet

 Other shows include magic with Micheal Belitsos, little-known details of history (Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? – about the woman who tried to assassinate President Ford outside the St. Francis Hotel), and a provocative dance piece from New York called Stalking Christopher Walken.  And dozens more that define the idea of theater on the fringe.

Tickets to all Fringe shows are $10 or less, cash only, at the door and advance sales for most are $12.99 on line.  A ten-show Frequent Fringer pass is $75 and a five-show pass is $40. The EXIT venues are all within walking distance of Union Square and the Powell Street BART station.  For complete listings of venues, shows, and times, go to www.sffringe.org.  Or call the fringe hotline at (415) 673-3847.

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