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San Francisco Theater Festival Celebrates Its Eighth Year of Free Samples

Usually at Yerba Buena, this year finds the San Francisco Theater Festival trundling over to Fort Mason Center, where it will boast more than one hundred shows in a dozen indoor and outdoor venues. All performances are half an hour or less, all are free, and all are indicative of what’s percolating in the local theater scene. 

Featured is the world premiere of Keith Moon Project’s Keith Moon - The Real Me. About the real Keith Moon, we presume; the rebel genius of The Who with a fondness for destroying his drums onstage. 

David and Amy Sedaris’ The Book of Liz at Custom Made Theater

Sister Elizabeth Donderstock's cheeseballs are all the religious community of Clusterhaven has left. But when they cease to appreciate her properly, Sister Elizabeth decides to take her cheese balls out into the great, wide world. Where she finds alcoholics, Ukrainians with cockney accents, mysterious peanuts, and that ever-elusive self respect. A quirky marriage of religion, alcoholism, and dairy products, The Book of Liz is David and Amy Sedaris' devilish take on the universal need to find one's bearings in a world that keeps shifting under your feet. 

Indulgences in the Louisville Harem

Mrs. Whiting’s New Book of Eligible Gentlemen was the Victorian answer to OKCupid, providing mail-order suitors to confirmed spinsters Florence and Viola. The internet is approximately 90 years away from invention, but Indulgences in the Louisville Harem proceeds just as it might today - any online dater will attest that hurling yourself into the dating fray sets you up for misunderstandings and mayhem and random hypnotism. Kentucky circa 1902 is no exception. 

Aurora Theatre Extends Metamorphosis

Kafka’s harrowing tale of alienation-via-accidental-and-inexplicable-insectification gets a remake by British director David Farr and Icelandic actor-director Gísli Örn Gardarsson. Acclaimed local director Mark Jackson heads up this chilling-yet-funny adaptation of the 1915 novella about a family thrown for a loop when one of them wakes up to find he's turned into a really big bug. 

Into the Woods for Twelfth Night

If wandering through the forest toward champagne, strawberries, and Shakespeare is your thing, good news: Twelfth Night at Theatre in the Woods opens this weekend. A guided summer trek through the redwoods, actors burst out of the brush at key spots to perform scenes of shipwreck and heartbreak. You end up at the main stage on seats carved out of the adjacent hillside watching Shakespearean poetry and snacking on the remains of your picnic lunch. (Note: bring a picnic lunch. Go on Sunday for the promised champagne and strawberries.) 

A Different Kind of Drag Queen in Persepolis, Texas

How a young girl raised by Iranian parents in the suburbs of the south moves to San Francisco to become a drag queen is the driving arc of Persepolis, Texas, Maryam Farnaz Rostami’s new one-woman show at Counterpulse. 

Rostami explores the universal question of what makes us who we are through the lens of her own life, using the archetypes of the auntie, the kid, the cowboy, the pop star. Shifting through each character, she re-creates a self-flagellating mourning ritual (complete with cowboy hat) and the traditional Persian dances her family would’ve killed to see her perform. (The family’s ideal probably doesn’t include full drag.) 

E-Harmonious: ODC Theater Flirts with Greatness in Latest Musical, OMFG

We’re all too familiar with the narrative infrastructure of ODC Theater’s latest musical, OMFG: Lonely man meets lonely woman. They flirt. They exaggerate their case for why they’d make ideal companions. True identities are revealed. Love is in the balance.

Once upon a time these types of encounters were the marked territory of contrived rom-com cinema, but the veils and deceptions of the Internet have made everyone with a laptop a potential author of such yarns. All the virtual world is a stage (too), the perfect place to ignore what we see in the mirror. So people bend the truth and hide insecurities as best they can. Until they can’t anymore.

The Verona Project at Cal Shakes

Believe it or not, Shakespeare was writing about real people - and people haven’t changed that much in the last five-hundred years. We still love, we still lose, we still act like unrelenting jerks, we still wonder who we are, we still get back up after falling and do it all over again. 

Kim Epifano Dance at ODC

Why focus on one theatrical discipline when you can take a needle and thread to all of them? With fifteen years' worth of multimedia dance/theatre/music hybrids on her resume, Kim Epifano has three new works going up at ODC Theater this weekend. 

Inspired by her 2009 residency in Ethiopia, Kim Epifano developed Heelomali, a mash-up of movement, song, photos and personal narrative, developed with didgeridoo expert Stephen Kent and Burmese harpist Su Wai. Under the mentorship of Epifano and Kent, teens from Burma and Nepal fuse the traditional dance and music of their homelands with hip hop, Bollywood, and breakdancing to create a unique multicultural infusion. 

Little Shop of Horrors at Boxcar Theatre

If you’re prone to searching musicals for life lessons, the takeaway in Little Shop of Horrors is that you can find fame and fortune as a florist — if you’re willing to feed human flesh to a ravenous Venus flytrap.

Seymour (the florist) and Audrey II (the extraterrestrial plant he thinks will solve all his problems) have a mutually exploitative arrangment — Seymour uses Audrey II as his ticket out of his sketchy neighborhood and into a better life, and the man-eating space plant uses him for dinner. 

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