San Francisco Fringe Fest 2008, A Wide Range of Indie Theater

San Francisco Fringe Festival

The San Francisco Fringe Festival features 280 performances of 48 shows over 12 days. It opened last night, so there are only 266 performances to go! A quick highlight reel of some of this year’s shows is below, but first a little bit more about the festival itself

The Fringe is an uncurated festival that brings a diverse range of indie theater to San Francisco each September. Now in its 17th year, the festival includes shows from the UK, Canada and Poland, as well as Oregon, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, New Jersey, New York and DC. The shows themselves include original musicals, one person shows, sketch comedy, drama, a noir re-telling of an ancient Greek play, queer themes, Jewish themes, and even one that features a prominent ukulele.

The nine venues are all in the downtown and SOMA areas, so it’s designed to allow you time to get to other venues between shows. That means it’s easy to see multiple shows a night, especially because most shows are an hour or less. From now until next Sunday, September 14th, there are at least 10 shows a night, and on the weekends there are up to 40+ performances running all day long. Tickets are on the cheap side, ranging from $5-$9 (or $11 max if you buy them online) and all door money goes straight to the performers.

The center of the festival is The Exit Theater which has 3 stages each doing at least 3 shows each night of the festival. Their website has a place for attendees to write their own reviews of each play, which provides an important reference to check when deciding which shows to attend.


To Kill For, the show in the clip below, is a fanciful reprocessing of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo that begins with Hitchcock himself in the afterlife. It will perform 3 times in Grace Cathedral and features several Equity actors.

Exit Sign: A Rock Opera features a great cast including Steffanos X and Dean Mermell of TomJonesing fame. They have a My Space page and everything.

A Rock Opera

Something strange and wonderful is happening in The Iron Muffin/Glass Jungle 11, including influences of Butoh, Noh Theater, and the artist’s travels to Myanmar and Thailand.

People loved The Monkey Poet show last year. This one-man-monkey-poet is a visitor from across the pond, Manchester UK to be precise. This year he’s back with a new show: The Big Brown Number Two, and is bound to be a crowd pleaser again.

monkey poet

Along the Path of Larks and Swallowsis the new show by Mia Paschal a repeat performer at the Fringe as well, this is her third show. Her first two were very well-received, and the early buzz on the new show is very positive also.

Then there’s There’s a Monster in the Well!, a sketch comedy show that includes performers from long-time SF sketch groups like Please Leave the Bronx, 2Good4u, and The Fresh Robots (comic Mike Spiegelman who’s also a regular at Bad Movie Night). Clusters and short bursts of uncontrolled laughter ensue….

There's a Monster in the Well!

Only one show in the fest was hot enough to make our pal Violet Blue’s sfgate sex column: Peg-Ass-Us by Pack of Others from Brooklyn. It’s about a, um, receptive boy who meets girl, and then comes singing, puppetry, nudity and–well, the description does say “no-holes-barred”…


And finally The Ukulady, another longtime Fringe favorite, brings a variety show format and unfathomable energy to her Ponyshow.

The Ukulady

Here’s the roundup of more Fringe shows that have YouTube videos. Tickets are available at the door before each show or online in advance for a fee. More important ticket details here. And lastly the Fringe coverage from SFGate’s theater critic.

photos via Lydia Danieller, The San Francisco Fringe Festival, Mookie Bailey, Jonathan Farmer, Thessaly