Get your running shoes, because it's time for the San Francisco Fringe Festival: 42 theater companies, 12 days and 7 venues.

Started 14 years ago by the Exit Theatre, the San Francisco Fringe Festival, opening Wednesday, is only one of the many Fringes around the world (Edinburgh being the most well-known). Some are juried, but San Francisco is an anything goes kind of town, so the Exit prides itself on not screening any of the entries. Instead, participation is determined by a lottery. Yeah, that means there's going to be some crap, but then, you'll also find some gems. At least all shows are only $9 or less.

How do you Fringe? This is where the running shoes come in. Check out the schedule and pick your shows. Each show is 60 minutes or less, with a half hour between shows. That means you can see something at Exit on Taylor, then run around the corner to the main Exit Theatre and then run up to the Phoenix Theatre. Don't see just one show; that's wimpy. We're going to catch three shows on Friday night--and we'll tell you all about it.