The African-American Shakespeare Company is known for taking familiar tales and turning them on their heads, largely by telling them from an African-American perspective. Last year, for example, the company set Cinderella on the Louisiana bayou. Each year, however, a different director takes additional liberties with this well-worn tale of pageantry and princes. Previous twists include having the roles of the Ugly Stepsisters played by men, inserting 1950s song-and-dance numbers, and staging a literal wrestling match between the wicked siblings over Prince Charming. This year the troupe uses Cinderella to explore the concept of true beauty; the ugly stepsisters are in fact beautiful women, but their actions toward Cinderella throughout the play eventually show them to be the truly ugly ones. Don't expect the delivery to be somber or overly moralistic, though this year's director is Velina Brown, part of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which is known for exposing harsh social and political realities through irreverent and absurd humor.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: Dec. 3. Continues through Dec. 19, 2010