It’s that time of year again — for the San Francisco Fringe Festival. The 16th annual event brings some 250 performances to eight stages in 12 days. The shows, featuring artists from all over the country (and England and Canada, too), range from the funny to dramatic to the just plain weird.
In the spirit of the wide-open appeal of the festival,here’s an extremely random sampling of what’s being offered this year.
Adventures of a Substitute Teacher
Veteran substitute teacher Steven Karwoski trades slinging hash for dodging spitballs. In a high-energy performance, he battles evil administrators, spars with his 14-year-old alter ego and discovers the "special" in special ed.
Where: Original Joe’s Cabaret Room, 144 Taylor St. (at Eddy Street)
When: 10 p.m. Sept. 6 and Sept. 10; 7 p.m. Sept. 7 and Sept. 13; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and Sept. 14
The Hasheesh Eater
Presented by the SF Buffoons, "The Hasheesh Eater" follows the downward spiral of a bestselling 1860s writer as, high on hash, he delivers his goodbye article to the office of the Golden Era, and wanders in a delirious haze through a late-night San Francisco filled with violence and seduction.
Where: Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason St.
When: 10 p.m. Sept. 6, Sept. 7, Sept. 8, Sept. 13, Sept. 14, Sept. 15
Kiss My Booth
Victoria Doggett presents a solo performance about a woman’s 100-square-foot world at a trade show and her surreal culinary adventures. It’s a place of hope and aspirations, where exhibitors dream of fame and discovery. By offering tasty foods bits and alluring displays, they attempt to arouse jaded buyers who have fallen out of love, and are longing to feel something again.
Where: Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy St.
When: 10 p.m. Sept. 6; 7 p.m. Sept. 9; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 15; 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16.
Playwright R.C. Staab says, "The musical takes its inspiration from my year in Raleigh, N.C., listening to Ben Folds music in 2002. It’s completely fictitious, although it echoes recent political drama in San Francisco’s City Hall." The show tells the story of friendship, love and politics among a young campaign manager, a Congressional candidate and a press secretary in a progressive Southern city. Folds’ songs "Philosophy," "Kate," "Fair" and "Evaporated" are included.
Where: Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St.
When: 10 p.m. Sept. 6; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 9; 7 p.m. Sept. 13, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 14
With the tag line "His dream is a billion to one shot — to be the first Asian Steve McQueen," this Asian American Theater Co. play is about one man’s journey to honor a promise to his father and become the first Korean leading man in Hollywood who does not do kung fu.
Where: Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy St.
When: 8:30 p.m. Sept. 9; 10 p.m. Sept. 12; 7 p.m. Sept. 15; 4 p.m. Sept. 16
The Life & Poetry of Anne Sexton
Presented by Wild Child, Hannah Wolfe explores the macabre, sensual world of the confessional poet Anne Sexton. One critic wrote, "It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to the work of Anne Sexton — Wolfe has this poet in her blood, and she shares her knowledge with honesty, intelligence and grace."
Where: EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor St.
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 5 and Sept. 10; 10 p.m. Sept. 7; 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8; 1 p.m. Sept. 9; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11
Party of One
Canadian clown artist Noel Williams’ romp features a feisty turnstile, dinner dates with luggage, and a two-and-a-half-foot mini version of "Gone with the Wind." The Winnipeg Free Press hailed the show, giving it four stars.
Where: EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy St.
When: 5:30 p.m Sept. 5; 8 p.m. Sept. 7; 10 p.m. Sept. 12; 7 p.m. Sept. 13; 1 p.m. Sept. 15
San Francisco Fringe Festival
When: Wednesday through Sept. 15
Where: Various venues
Tickets: $9 to $11