Street Smarts

Many of the performers at this year's In the Street Festival have already shown their zeal for populist art, like the San Francisco Mime Troupe (which joins forces here with the Vietnamese Youth Development Center) and the musical partnership of Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones, whose Street Corner Symphony blends theater with music and spoken word in a kind of operatic homage to disenfranchised urbanites. Others are simply more comfortable performing outdoors, like aerial dance company Project Bandaloop, which has used the sheer rock faces of Yosemite cliffs and the walls of the Main Library as its stages.

For whatever reason, they're all performing for free in places that don't see a lot of theater (inner-city rooftops, fire escapes, lobbies, playgrounds) for people who are too often shut out of the theatrical experience (low-income viewers, kids). Aspiring artists, kids included, can exercise their creativity in the Interactive Sculpture Garden and at a kids' festival, and viewers of all stripes should find at least one performance they can appreciate, be it the Emeryville Taiko Drummers or Fat Chance BellyDance. Late-breaking addition to the opening night of the festival will be a performance by Bill T. Jones, at 8 p.m. Friday in Duboce Park, Steiner & Sanchez, S.F. The fest continues at noon Saturday and Sunday in Cohen Alley, Ellis between Leavenworth and Hyde, S.F. Admission to all events is free; call 255-5971. (

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