Bay Area theater falls into place
Theater is where you find it this fall. For instance, at a warehouse party where assembled guests artists, authors, bons vivants, goatees, and rockers of all stripes get so carried away that a play suddenly breaks out among them (it can happen). Or in the offices and cubbyholes where a group of Dutch actors retreat midperformance to mine universal truths about the minutiae of mundane alienation. Or hovering just above the stage, where astrocosmonautical new best friends, stranded like circus performers, orbit together after a space shuttle disaster. Or on a kitschy converted kid shuttler known as the Mexican Bus, which a trio of disembodied Chicanos use to cruise the Mission. Theater, in short, is going to be a ubiquitous presence, maybe even the stranger eyeing your canapé, so watch out.
Sweeney Todd Kicking off its national tour in San Francisco, John Doyle's pared-down, blood-bespattered hit Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller also begins the American Conservatory Theater's new season on a guaranteed high note.
Aug. 30Sept. 30. Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2ACT, www.act-sfbay.org 
San Francisco Fringe Festival It's the 16th annual array of 50-minute feats, under-an-hour undertakings, and terse tirades. Perennially fast, cheap, and out of control.
Sept. 516. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. www.sffringe.org 
Expedition 6 San Francisco hosts the world premiere of playwright-director (and well-known actor) Bill Pullman's theatrically stylized, documentary-based take on the real-life encounter between Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts stranded in space after the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster. Think of it as Apollo 13 with a trapeze.
Sept. 8Oct. 7. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, bldg. D, Marina at Laguna, SF. (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org 
The MagiCCal Mission Tour Albeit now in Los Angeles, the performers of Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza) are forever local theater champs with deep roots in the Mission District. In a unique take on the guided tour, they climb (virtually) aboard the rolling fiesta known as the Mexican Bus to act as your (prerecorded) guides through their own private Mexico (del Norte).
Sept. 1016. www.mexicanbus.com 
Kommer This Yerba Buena Center for the Arts engagement marks the Bay Area debut for Kassys, the acclaimed Amsterdam-based Dutch theater company. A physically exact multimedia work, Kommer (Dutch for "sorrow") begins as a comical and poignant play about a group of friends gathered in mourning, then shifts gears to follow the individual actors out of the theater as each returns to a separate little workaday world, shedding light on "private and public moments of human frailty."
Sept. 14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org
Lies You Can Dance To Flyaway Productions known for athletic, risk-taking, society-critiquing, and female-empowered dance performances in venues from rooftops to industrial cranes previews a work in progress at the Marsh: Lies You Can Dance To, an investigation of "how the human body responds to lies told over and over at the level of national policy," by artistic director and Bay Area dancer-choreographer Jo Kreiter, with music by Bay Area composer-musician Beth Custer.
Sept. 1416. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF. 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org 
Continuous City This work in progress exploring postmodern interconnectivity and our changing sense of place in a global context is a tech-savvy performance piece that attempts to extend the reach of theater by, among other things, uploading video contributions from a social networking site. It's a collaboration between Bay Area actors, UC Berkeley students, and New York's the Builders Association (responsible for the visually stunning Super Vision at the YBCA in August 2006).
Oct. 514. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk. (510) 642-9988, theater.berkeley.edu
After the Quake As part of its 40th season, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre hosts the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of a new play by renowned Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle), helmed by Tony Awardwinning director Frank Galati (The Grapes of Wrath, Ragtime). Adapted from Murakami's 2000 collection of short stories, After the Quake is an intimate tale about a shy storyteller and registers the tremors of an unstable world while confronting the challenge of living with fear.
Oct. 12Nov. 25. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk. 1-888-4BRTTIX, www.berkeleyrep.org 
Des Moines Campo Santo premieres Denis Johnson's fast-paced, darkly poetic, hilarious, and fascinating multicharacter stream of confession and moral conflict. The brilliant author turned playwright's past collaborations with the company include Psychos Never Dream and Soul of a Whore. In what Intersection for the Arts and Campo Santo are calling their take on dinner theater, the play will unfold amid a hip cocktail mixer in a warehouse not far from the company's usual digs on Valencia.
Oct. 1920. www.theintersection.org 
Slouching Towards Disneyland Inimitable radio and stage personality Ian Shoales (a.k.a. Merle Kessler) and quick-fingered, ever-versatile musician-composer Joshua Raoul Brody team up for this wry, cranky song and rant, purportedly "a wild ride in words and music through world history from Genesis to George W."
Nov. 8Dec. 1. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF. 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org