That's the Spirit! Dueling religions provide the dramatic thrust in Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, in which a Catholic woman becomes a housekeeper for a retired high school teacher and self-proclaimed "Yankee Jew" who has been given only a few months to live. Comedy naturally ensues as the two try to develop some sort of working relationship. Dean Goodman plays Jacob Brackish to Rebecca Dines' Kathleen Hogan; John Higgins directs. Park Your Car was written by Israel Horovitz (father of Beastie Boy Ad-Rock). It played Broadway before making its San Francisco premiere, which also marks the debut of its host, the newly opened Jewel Theater. The show begins with a preview at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 9) at the Jewel Theater, 655 Geary, S.F. Admission is $15-20; call (510) 562-4647.
When Chickens Fly Butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata's art was shaped by the devastation wrought by the atomic bombs America dropped on his native Japan. The performance companies that followed his lead have given audiences a revolutionary kind of dance in succeeding years, one that forgoes the theatrical excess of kabuki in favor of stripped-down movement and sets reflecting the natural world and the darker side of its human inhabitants. Tokyo-based Buto-Sha Tenkei ("Chickens in the Sky") plunge into movement at a pace some butoh fans may find surprising, but in their work for five dancers, Nocturne, the company reveals Hijikata's influence as it explores the shadowy realm of dreams. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $12.50-20; call 621-7797.
In the Juggler Vein It takes balls to do what Frank Olivier does best, which is juggling, as well as riding a unicycle, sans costume, while playing a flaming guitar. Like many professionals, Olivier went to school to study his craft: At Ringling Bros. Clown College, he polished his physical comedy, magic, and dance skills, which he put to good use in Mickey Rooney's Broadway show Sugar Babies. Olivier, the first variety artist to be nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, presents Hold That Thought, his first local theater show in five years. It's a comic comment on meditation, featuring vaudeville routines like the short-legged "Swami Bawoni" and "Meditation Rap." The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., 626-2169. Admission is $10-12; call 626-2169.
Sophie's Choice Former Chronicle reporter Sophie Treadwell, the first journalist ever to interview Pancho Villa, distinguished herself among playwrights as well as newspaper types in her day. Her canon includes the drama Machinal, which was written at the height of the Roaring '20s and which turns a critical eye on the giddiness of that era in its portrayal of a young woman struggling to free herself from a dead-end existence. Michelle Morain (seen most recently in The Rose Tattoo and The Cherry Orchard) takes the lead in American Conservatory Theater's production of Machinal, which opens with a preview at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 9) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary, S.F. Admission is $7-47.50; call 749-2228.
Reality Check In Colored Children Flyin' By, choreographer David Rousseve blends the tales of his Creole grandmother with urban folklore; in Pop Dreams and Whispers of Angels, Rousseve invokes an abusive father and a dying man's quest for love. Storytelling brings a captivating immediacy to Rousseve's work, where modern issues -- AIDS, racism, rape -- are scrambled with stories and dreams from his youth and laid out in fluid passes, gender-bent partnering, and hip-hop flourishes (just as the music he chooses runs the gamut from Nina Simone to Public Enemy to Me'Shell Ndegeocello). Rousseve and his dance company, REALITY, stage excerpts of these full-length works alongside the West Coast premieres of Love Stories and Dry Each Other's Tears in the Stillness of the Night at 8 p.m. (continuing through Feb. 9) at the Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, S.F. Admission is $18-24; call 392-4400.
A Cure for Cabin Fever A respite from all kinds of dreariness arrives with the Cinematheque winter film schedule, where viewers can get their kicks vicariously with Leslie Asako Gladsjo's films, in which robotics gurus Stelarc and Survival Research Laboratories torch their surroundings and body piercer Raelyn Gallina muses on her profession ("Stigmata & Pandemonium," Feb. 23). Other highlights include "The Asian-American Film Festival: Experimental Shorts" (March 6-13) and "Woman/Body/Function: Five Films About Female Stuff" (March 8). Programs run Thursdays at Center for the Arts and Saturdays and Sundays at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut. The first installment, "From the Bay and Beyond: New Films I," screens at 7:30 p.m. at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 558-8129 for schedule information.
Tribal Vibe International folk and ethnic art dealers will be showing and selling their stuff at the Tribal, Folk, and Textile Arts Show, which specializes in pre-1940s art including Native American pottery, baskets, and jewelry, African masks, beadwork, and sculpture, Columbian pottery and textiles, Mexican and South American santo (holy) art, and Asian sculpture and carvings. The show opens at 5:30 p.m. with a preview and live and silent auctions benefiting the S.F. Craft and Folk Art Museum. Show days begin at 9 a.m. with an optional pre-show tour ($12) and runs from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is $8 for a two-day pass, $40-50 for a Friday evening benefit preview; call 775-0991.