The curtain calls

Bay Area theater falls into place
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Theater is where you find it this fall. For instance, at a warehouse party where assembled guests — artists, authors, bons vivants, goatees, and rockers of all stripes — get so carried away that a play suddenly breaks out among them (it can happen). Or in the offices and cubbyholes where a group of Dutch actors retreat midperformance to mine universal truths about the minutiae of mundane alienation. Or hovering just above the stage, where astrocosmonautical new best friends, stranded like circus performers, orbit together after a space shuttle disaster. Or on a kitschy converted kid shuttler known as the Mexican Bus, which a trio of disembodied Chicanos use to cruise the Mission. Theater, in short, is going to be a ubiquitous presence, maybe even the stranger eyeing your canapé, so watch out.

Sweeney Todd Kicking off its national tour in San Francisco, John Doyle's pared-down, blood-bespattered hit Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller also begins the American Conservatory Theater's new season on a guaranteed high note.

Aug. 30–Sept. 30. Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2ACT, www.act-sfbay.org

San Francisco Fringe Festival It's the 16th annual array of 50-minute feats, under-an-hour undertakings, and terse tirades. Perennially fast, cheap, and out of control.

Sept. 5–16. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. www.sffringe.org

Expedition 6 San Francisco hosts the world premiere of playwright-director (and well-known actor) Bill Pullman's theatrically stylized, documentary-based take on the real-life encounter between Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts stranded in space after the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster. Think of it as Apollo 13 with a trapeze.

Sept. 8–Oct. 7. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, bldg. D, Marina at Laguna, SF. (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org

The MagiCCal Mission Tour Albeit now in Los Angeles, the performers of Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza) are forever local theater champs with deep roots in the Mission District. In a unique take on the guided tour, they climb (virtually) aboard the rolling fiesta known as the Mexican Bus to act as your (prerecorded) guides through their own private Mexico (del Norte).

Sept. 10–16. www.mexicanbus.com

Kommer This Yerba Buena Center for the Arts engagement marks the Bay Area debut for Kassys, the acclaimed Amsterdam-based Dutch theater company. A physically exact multimedia work, Kommer (Dutch for "sorrow") begins as a comical and poignant play about a group of friends gathered in mourning, then shifts gears to follow the individual actors out of the theater as each returns to a separate little workaday world, shedding light on "private and public moments of human frailty."

Sept. 14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org

Lies You Can Dance To Flyaway Productions — known for athletic, risk-taking, society-critiquing, and female-empowered dance performances in venues from rooftops to industrial cranes — previews a work in progress at the Marsh: Lies You Can Dance To, an investigation of "how the human body responds to lies told over and over at the level of national policy," by artistic director and Bay Area dancer-choreographer Jo Kreiter, with music by Bay Area composer-musician Beth Custer.

Sept. 14–16. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF.

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