at Intersection for the Arts
Choreographer Erika Chong Shuch is one of the most exciting younger artists San Francisco has to offer, and has blown our mind with her past two shows. This weekend, she opens a new dance theater piece (with an infusion of music and video) that investigates our preoccupation with extra-terrestrials, faith and the aching need for human contact. Erika's pieces are smart and poetic but not elitist, and some of the edges are intriguingly unfinished, kind of like distressed jeans--it makes the product all the more interesting. If you like hybrid work--not quite theater, not quite dance, not quite installation art--then check this out.
Playing July 13 through August 5

The Legendary and Fabulous Passion Play at Exit Stage Left
El Gato del Diablo Theatre reminds us of the small squirrelly (catty wouldn't work here) companies that came up in the dot-com boom and have since disappeared. After its inaugural The Rise and Fall of the Monkey King, it's back with another new play by artistic director Shawn Ferreyra. Here he takes the classic stories of Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet) and religion (misunderstood messiahs) to tell the tale of star-crossed lovers who are banned from creating a union because of their sex. And it's set in an underground drag world. Topical, passionate and just plain fun.
Playing July 14 through August 19

Zen at Magic Theatre
So, this new company, Boxcar Theatre, blew into town when Nick A. Olivero, its founding artistic director, became disenchanted with the Chicago scene. (We hope he wasn't thinking he'd escape the wind.) Anyway, he's pretty stoked about ensemble theater, and even more stoked about presenting free shows--though we can't figure out how the company can rent the Magic and provide free shows. Hey, its site doesn't have ticket prices, and Zen already played out at Baker Beach, so. The play follows six "everymen" in their pursuit of happiness. It's zen: you just sit back and let it wash over you.
Playing July 18 through 23

Photo of Norman Muñoz and Nancy Dobbs Owen in The Legendary and Fabulous Passion Play by Shawn Ferreryra.

For more stage options, check out the listings at the Guardian, the Express, the SF Weekly, and the calendar on Theatre Bay Area's website.

Orbit (notes from the edge of forever)