Stage four

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Theatrical picks for 2009's final act
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ACT's Brief Encounter

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You Can't Get There from Here Prized Bay Area performer Anne Galjour's latest solo play suggests you are where you live, while unearthing the real class and cultural divides underneath American feet, in this intensely researched and sharply amusing mapping of the nation 2009 courtesy of Z Space. Sept. 10-27, Theatre Artaud; www.zspace.org.

Brief Encounter American Conservatory Theater's new season opens with a wildly successful British import, Kneehigh Theatre's inspired production of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter, a mashup of film, theater, and song adapted by Emma Rice from Coward's own words and music. This limited engagement coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the former Geary Theater's legacy as a movie theater, and is something of a must-see (Nota bene: ACT is offering a limited number of $10 sweet and vertiginous second-balcony seats for this show). Sept. 11-Oct. 4, American Conservatory Theater; www.act-sf.org.

Ghosts of the River The mysterious, insubstantial and quintessentially human realm of shadows and borders come together in a uniquely poetical, politically charged evening of "Twilight Zone–like vignettes" set along the snaking Rio Grande. The world premiere of Ghosts of the River re-teams leading SF-based playwright Octavio Solis with Larry Reed's Shadowlight Productions in a theatrical experience combining Balinese shadow theatre technique, the scale of film, and live performance accessible to both Spanish- and English-speaking audiences. Oct. 1-11, Teatro Vision; Oct. 28-Nov. 8, Brava Theater Center; www.shadowlight.org.

Dead Boys The world premiere of a new musical by writer-director-choreographer Joe Goode leads off the new main stage season at UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, where Goode is faculty by day (and otherwise artistic director of famed SF dance-theater company Joe Goode Performance Group). Collaborating with Portland-based composer-songwriter Holcombe Waller, Dead Boys is billed as "a freak folk musical about trust, gay activism, gender identity, talking to the dead, and the privileged culture's pursuit of happiness." Oct. 9-18, Zellerbach Playhouse; http://events.berkeley.edu.

South Pacific Speaking of musicals, the big fat Rodgers and Hammerstein luau revived to critical acclaim last year — and for the first time since its 1949 premiere — comes to the Pacific Coast this fall, courtesy of SHN's Best of Broadway series. Celebrated director and SF homeboy Bartlett Sher pilots this Tony winner for Best Musical Revival 2008, set on a frisky but fraught tropic isle during WWII with classic themes in the air, including the baldly asserted "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame." Sept. 18-Oct. 25, Golden Gate Theatre; www.shnsf.com.

The Creature SF playwright Trevor Allen has created a monster. It began in 2006 as a staged reading and a live radio play, then a podcast. Now The Creature, a fresh take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, is a full-blown walking, talking, play-thing making its world premiere in time for Halloween. Stitched together from some prime parts, including direction from Cutting Ball Theatre's Rob Melrose and no less than venerable Bay Area actor James Carpenter in the title role, The Creature promises to be lively, to say the least. Oct. 23-Nov.

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