The next half of the 2006-’07 season in Bay Area theaters looks even stronger than the fall portion. There is variety here, and a healthy emphasis on new works. Ticket prices are well below those for most other shows.
Here are a few tips for the new year:
» Traveling Jewish Theater co-founder Naomi Newman is featured in TJT’s first production of the new year, "Bent" author Martin Sherman’s "Rose," onstage Jan. 4 through Jan. 28. The one-woman show is about a journey from a Ukrainian shtetl to the Warsaw ghetto to Atlantic City and Miami, with stops inConnecticut and Israel. The theater is 470 Florida St., San Francisco. Tickets are $15-$18. Call (415) 522-0786 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
» At the American Conservatory Theater, the year opens with W. Somerset Maugham’s "The Circle," Jan. 4 through Feb. 4. Dealing with the same characters that appeared in "The Constant Wife," a hit here four years ago, "The Circle" is about Lady Kitty (the early feminist in "Wife"), and her grown son, whose marriage is undergoing a similar crisis the mother faced 30 years before. "Wife" actually makes better reading; "The Circle" is Maugham’s best play, made for the stage. The director is Mark Lamos, remembered for his production here of Marlowe’s "Edward II" six years ago; Kathleen Widdoes, Ken Ruta and James Waterston play leading roles. The show is at the American ConservatoryTheater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco. Tickets are $16-$72. Call (415)749-2ACT or visit "www.act-sf.org.
» At the Magic Theatre, Chantal Bilodeau’s "Pleasure and Pain" — opening Feb. 4 and running in repertory with two other new shows as part of the Hot House Series of world premieres — is directed by Jessica Heidt. A woman’s erotic daydreams are "found out" when her writings get into the hands of her boss; the consequences are, well, unexpected. The theater is in Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $10-$30. Call (415) 441-8001 or visit www.magic theatre.org.
» In the Zeum Theater, A.C.T.’s First Look Festival of new plays runs Jan. 16 through Jan. 27. The plays: "The Tosca Project," a movement-based theater piece created by Carey Perloff and Val Caniparoli, about the famed San Francisco nightspot; "Brainpeople," by José Rivera (author of the screenplay for "The Motorcycle Diaries"); and a new version of Constance Congdon’s adaptation of Moliere’s "The Imaginary Invalid." Performances are at Zeum Theater, Yerba Buena Center, Fourth and Howard streets, San Francisco. Tickets are $7-$10. Call (415) 749-2ACT or visit www.act-sf.org.
» At Berkeley Rep, "Beauty Queen of Leenane" author Martin McDonagh’s "The Pillowman" runs Jan. 12 through Feb. 25. Directed by Bay Area favorite Les Waters, the play, a murder mystery, has been called "dense, disturbing, and wickedly funny," which sounds like a triple winner. Berkeley Rep Thrust Stage is at 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. Tickets are $27.50-$55. Call (510) 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.
» A bit further into the new year, a significant event for theatergoers, A.C.T. will present the world premiere of Philip Kan Gotanda’s "After the War," March 22 through April 22. The A.C.T.-commissioned play is about the aftermath of the World War II imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans, the changes taking place in San Francisco’s Japantown as the result. The show is onstage at American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco. Tickets are $16-$72. Call (415) 749-2ACT or visit www.act-sf.org.