The utopian ideal of street theater lives on with In the Street, an annual June festival of free, in-your-face performances staged with the Tenderloin as its ragtag backdrop. But as organizers the Art and Revolution Convergence Collective know, there's just no getting around the fact that throwing a festival -- securing the permits and equipment, generating publicity, and so forth -- takes money. Which is where this weekend's Radical Performance Fest comes in. Two nights of performances benefit In the Street, and even if this festival isn't free, it's still a pretty good entertainment package for the price.
An exhibit of New Yorker contributing cover artist Eric Drooker's politically charged paintings and drawings sets the stage for two nights of edgy performance. What's radical? The Medea Project's Rhodessa Jones, who regularly stages productions written and performed by incarcerated women, and Project Bandaloop, a dance company that suits up in harnesses and climbing gear and scales the sides of buildings. Juggling comedian Sara Felder has in a past show described the perils of throwing a Jewish lesbian wedding with disarming sweetness; dancer/choreographer Krissy Keefer leans more toward tart, acerbic even, with her solo dance-theater work Queen of Sheba; and the Sister Spit Ramblin' Road Show, a spoken-word collective that aims to displease Middle America on its interstate performance tours, lets the invective fly when its members take the stage. New to this year's festival is New York performance poet Pamela Sneed, who pokes around in the American consciousness, dredging up the body of 14-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till in writing about race, romance, and other loaded topics. The S.F. Mime Troupe and the giant puppets of Wise Fool Puppet Intervention will also perform at the show, which begins at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-30; call 285-9734. (