This past Sunday, under blazing blue skies in the City's snuggly warm SOMA bosom of Yerba Buena Gardens (YBG), there were no microphones, no stage lights, and no admission fees (and sadly no news coverage). There was plenty of energy though in the form of 10,000 spectators watching 267 actors in 77 different shows on 10 stages for the fourth annual San Francisco Theater Festival (SFTF).

The festive and well-attended public event filled not only the outdoor venues of the YBG like the Stone Stage, the Waterfall, and the Rock Circle, but also filled up indoor venues the Metreon and Zeum.

The San Francisco Theater Festival is an annual free event intended to build the theater-going audience by acquainting people with live-theater performance in the Bay Area. "It's always a bit of a crapshoot" SFTF Executive Producer Bill Schwartz told SFist on Tuesday, but he loves what he does and hopes that people will continue to join him in making the Bay Area a truly great theater town.

Marc Samuels and comedy troupe Blue Blanket Improv make it up as they go along on the Stone Stage at this year's San Francisco Theater Festival. Photo from

It seems like Schwartz is making significant headway in his quest. According to Schwartz, who got his numbers from the MJM Management Group, the contracted property manager for Yerba Buena Gardens, attendance has risen in each of the festival's four years, from 3500 in 2004 to 6000 last year to this year's record 10,000 spectators.