Fringe Festival

The San Francisco Fringe Festival

One of the more enduring and, depending on your viewpoint, endearing things about San Francisco is its acceptance of alternative lifestyles and a general tolerance of the outré. One of the better, and certainly more fun, examples of this acceptance and tolerance is the San Francisco Fringe Festival held for a couple of weeks each September. The Festival is a grass roots theater festival, which features a wide range of different types of performances from Shakespeare to children’s plays to the aforementioned outré stuff. (Count on plenty of that. They don’t call it the Fringe Festival for nothing.)

The Festival is open to all artists, and acts are selected through a public lottery, which ensures that attendees are provided with an improbably eclectic mix of performances. The lottery also ensures that all artists have an equal shot at staging their work without concerns about favoritism, nepotism or any other –isms. People who appreciate prompt start times will love this festival, as all shows start at the scheduled time. People who appreciate proper theater decorum will also love the festival, as organizers go to great lengths to inform attendees that there is no late seating and no refunds are offered to late arrivals for any reason. Yet another really cool aspect of this festival is that 25 percent of the tickets for any given performance are discounted at $10 or less at the door and sales of these tickets are held back until 30 minutes before show time, allowing everyone a fair shot at attending the hottest shows.

Those wishing to get a nearly guaranteed seat for their preferred performances can order tickets in advance for $12.99 or less as long as that allotment of tickets is available. Frequent Fringer passes are available, offering five shows for $40 or ten shows for $75. These passes can also be used for discounted tickets but do not guarantee a seat unless the bearer gets in line in time to get in before the 30-minute window has closed.

All performances are held at the Exit Theater, the Exit Stage Left Theater or the Exit Studio Theater, all located at 156 Eddy Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. The venues range from 35 to 80 seats, so get tickets early or get in line early for your preferred performances. The San Francisco Fringe Festival is one of many weird and wonderful things that make living in or visiting the city so much fun and is definitely worth checking out each September no matter your tastes or tolerance for alternative viewpoints.