Timothy Erenta, former playwright-in-residence at Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, will present his solo performance piece "Happy Endings are Overrated" as part of the ninth annual San Francisco Fringe Festival that opens Thursday.
Over the course of the festival’s 11-day run, 52 local, national and international theater companies and artists will present 250 performances of traditional plays, solo performance, dance and physical theater, sketch comedy, and multi-media happenings, in what has become a yearly ritual of avant garde Bay Area theater madness.
The San Francisco Fringe Theater Festival, masterminded by Christina Augello and Richard Livingston of San Francisco’s Exit Theater, is part of a "family" of fringe festivals from around the world, some as old at 50 years.
All these festivals follow the Fringe tradition of showcasing uncensored, non-traditional, not-yet-famous actors, puppeteers, mimes, dancers, and musicians. The result is controlled chaos, and a chance for the public to experience live performances at bargain prices.
Each performance runs under 60 minutes, each event has a maximum ticket price of $8, and one hundred percent of the ticket revenue goes to the performers.
Show starting times are staggered at 90 minute intervals, so that theater addicts can walk from performance to performance at key downtown venues near San Francisco’s Union Square.
Erenta’s “Happy Endings Are Overrated” tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Prince character from the Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella stories.
Erenta is an actor, playwright and storyteller who specializes in ancient myth, folk and fairy tales, and family stories.
His plays have been seen by more than 50,000 elementary school students in Northern California. He serves on the board of directors of the Storytelling Association of Alta California.
Other highlights from the 52 Fringe shows include the return of Bay Arean Byron Yee, whose “Paper Son” broke out of the San Francisco Fringe in 1998 to enjoy sold-out runs across the United States and Canada, and at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe,. Yee will be back with a new work titled “Opium.”
Antonio Sacre of Los Angeles also returns with “My Penis– In and Out of Trouble,” which won the New York “Best of the Fringe Festival Award” for solo performance in 1999.
From Orlando, Florida, comes "”Trailer Trash Tabloid!: The Mobile Homo [sic] Sex Scandals, Murders & Other Unnatural Disasters of 1964,” in which two actors take the audience on a madcap, plot-twisting, roller-coaster ride playing all the residents of a South Georgia trailer park.
This high-camp comedy, featuring rapid-fire dialogue and quick costume changes, was the outright hit of this year’s Orlando International Fringe Festival, turning away hundreds at every performance.
Bay Arean Trevor Allen’s play “Chain Reactions,” presented by Black Box Theater Company, invites audiences to Golden Gate Park’s Morrison Planetarium to explore the connections among Einstein, a pregnant physicist, and a bachelor with an empty fishbowl.
Other than the Golden Gate Park shows, most Fringe Festival performance locations are within walking distance of San Francisco’s downtown Union Square. These locations include Exit Theater, EXIT Stage Left, the Phoenix II, the Lorraine Hansberry Theater and Il Teatro 450.
Shows begin from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from September 7-17.
For more information about the Fringe, or a full schedule of events, call 415/673-3847, or visit the website (www.sffringe.org). Tickets for downtown venues are available only at the time of performance.