For the fall of it

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Autumn's most intriguing theatrical events

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Rosaleen Linehan and Des Keogh in Endgame coming to the Zellerbach Playhouse in November
PHOTO COURTESY OF GATE THEATER

arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS Puppets, fanciful forms of democracy, and disfigured villains are leitmotifs beyond the Beltway this season, as the following theater and performance highlights suggest.

Stuffed and Unstrung Bad puppets, puppets misbehaving, puppets you won't see on Sesame Street, puppets you don't want to meet on a darkened street. Eighty of them. And six improvising comedians too: Henson puppeteers gone wild. (Brian Henson, that is, son of puppeteering parents Jim and Jane). Co-presented by SF Sketchfest. (Through Sat/27, Curran Theatre; shnsf.com.)

Roughin' It: Theater. Oysters. Campfire. Booze. Is one of these things not like the others? No, they are all just like the others. Now you can yell oyster in a crowded campfire and drink like an actor. It seems this unique opportunity (one night only, this weekend) arises because PianoFight is couch surfing right now, very near the actual surf in Tomales Bay. The show-show part of this show consists of new material by local playwrights writing plays for this very moment in time at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company in Point Reyes Station, just in case you were wondering about it. Round-trip shuttle ride from SF available for a few extra clams, and dollar oysters for a dollar. (Sat/27, Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Point Reyes Station; pianofight.com.)

A Delicate Balance Aurora Theatre turns 20 this season too. It has chosen to celebrate by kicking things off with a production of Edward Albee's great and so great play, A Delicate Balance. And to include in the cast local luminaries Anne Darragh, Charles Dean, and Carrie Paff. This is all just an excellent idea. (Sept. 2-Oct. 9, Aurora Theatre; auroratheatre.org.)

San Francisco Fringe Festival, the 20th annual for god's sake. Forty-four shows from all over, all over 12 days, all over the lovely Tenderloin. Good theater very cheap, and bad theater, also very cheap. The lottery-based, snob-resistant Fringe: this is what democracy looks like. (Sept. 7–18, Exit Theatre; www.sffringe.org.)

The People: San Francisco Corporations are people too, my friend. So was Hitler. Even I am people apparently. There's a lesson there somewhere in this Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Z Space co-production, as the New York–based performance team of Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson (makers of 2009's wowing S.O.S. at YBCA) bring to the street outside Z Space the local installment of their globetrotting site-specific democracy-curious spectacle, featuring live performance and real-time gi-normous video projections. I'm told there will also be taco trucks. But really: no way you want to miss Big Art Group. (Sept. 16–17, Z Space; bigartgroup.com)

3 For All Maybe the SF Improv Festival has whetted your appetite. Or maybe you already know that this longstanding, outstanding long-form improv trio comprised of Rafe Chase, Stephen Kearin, and Tim Orr are always varied and strange and wonderful. (Sept. 16–17, Bayfront Theatre; www.improv.org.)

Frankenstein Independent Eye's Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller present their take on Mary Shelley's gothic (and profoundly modern) tale, using a trio of actors, a moody mix of sound and image, and their exquisitely crafted puppets. (Oct. 7–30, 6th Street Playhouse; 6thstreetplayhouse.com.)

Richard III Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious with this fall theater-season spectacular starring Kevin Spacey. M'lord. What hump? (Oct. 19–29, Curran Theatre; shnsf.com.)

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