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Risk Is This: Cutting Ball's Experimental Play Festival

Experimental work is given free reign at Cutting Ball's theater festival - making it a major creative luxury in a world where artistry doesn't always outrank minor considerations like budget. Or the understandable desire for ticket sales, when the known often outsells the unknown. Cutting Ball's annual festival offers artists a chance to test boundaries and audiences a chance to participate in the creative process. Here are the highlights of the five staged readings in this year's festival:

Hooking into L. Frank Baum’s surreal projection of Americana with an adaptation of Ozma of Oz, Cutting Ball's first musical whisks Dorothy - and a talking chicken - off to the land of Ev. Making their way through a new environment full of conversational farm animals, lunch pails growing on trees, and creatures boasting wheels instead of feet, Dorothy and Billina (the talking chicken) plot a coup. Set to a quirky score of guitar, harmonica, turntable, and laptop by San Francisco-based electro-rock group Z.O.N.K., it's been dubbed a trip-hop adventure. 

Annie Ellis’s documentary theater piece, Tenderloin, dives into the stories of the people who share Cutting Ball’s home. From a huge compilation of interviews comes a living portrait of the neighborhood, with pieces of the lives of artists, preachers, a Chinese diner owner, a former prostitute, and the District Supervisor. It promises to be a compelling snapshot of one of San Francisco’s most colorful neighborhoods. 

Through June 25. Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St. Free, or $20 for reserved seating. Information at cuttingball.com.