Summer Theater Preview 

Outdoor summer theater used to be king in this town (we're looking at you, Shakespeare in the Park)... But even though it has to share the stage with music and film now, it's still cool. We promise.

The Other Free Shakespeare in the Park
While everyone cues to see Anne Hathaway prancing through Central Park as a boy, beat the crowds and enjoy some riverside Bard with Hudson Warehouse's three summer shows (The Tempest in June, Hamlet in July and A Midsummer Night's Dream in August).
At the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, W 89th St at Riverside Drive, full details at hudsonwarehouse.net, closes 8/30.

The Anti-Depressant Festival
Balancing dire and eerily perceptive realism with imaginative (possibly prescription drug-induced) delirium, the Brick's summer festival features 19 productions: one based on the brutal lifecycles of role-playing video games, another about the upcoming apocalypse starring sock puppets, and another about bear-tickling fetishists.
At The Brick, 575 Metropolitan Ave, Bklyn, full details at bricktheater.com, closes 7/4.

Black Box New Play Festival
The 12th edition of the Gallery Players' annual summer fest features four weekend productions of new and recent plays, some evening-length and others shorter one-acts.
At the Gallery Players Theater, 199 14th St, Bklyn, full details at galleryplayers.com, closes 6/28.

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Summerworks 2009
Clubbed Thumb's summer showcase features three plays in week-long runs. In punkplay two suburban 13-year-olds discover punk and it rocks their little worlds; in Precious Little a sad pregnant linguist befriends a sad but charismatic gorilla in a cage; and in Telethon a meeting of physically disabled fundraisers at Dunkin' Donuts goes haywire.
At the Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster St, full details at clubbedthumb.org, closes 6/26.

Hospital 2009
The Axis Company's annual epic serial production returns for its 10th anniversary edition, with four episodes unfolding with successive one-week runs.
At the Axis Theater, 1 Sheridan Square, full details at axiscompany.org, opens 6/11, closes 7/25.

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
This new fest, featuring some 32 shows, revolves around the idea that theater should address political, environmental and social issues: Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, Jesus, Cleopatra, vampires and Sherlock Holmes's assistant, Watson, for instance.
At 440 Theaters, 440 Lafayette St, full details at planetconnectionsfestivity.com, opens 6/11, closes 6/28.

TeatroStageFest
In its third edition, this festival of Latino and Ibero-American arts features theater, dance, comedy and music. This year's spotlight is on Latin American theater, and accordingly several of the mainstage productions and panel discussions will be devoted to discussing canonical and up-and-coming playwrights from the south side of the continent.
Full details at teatrostagefest.org, opens 6/15, closes 6/28.

Lincoln Center Festival
Though it covers music and dance too, theater is this fest's focal point, with companies from France, Italy, Russia, Poland and Hungary bringing some of the best productions in the world to Lincoln Center. Highlights include satires of the Italian middle-class and Tsarist Russia and the dark musical comedy Peasant Opera.
Full details at lincolncenter.org, opens 7/7, closes 7/26.

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Ice Factory '09
At the Ohio's 16th and likely last summer theater fest (at least in its current space), six new plays take to the stage for four-day runs, including a new musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, a comedy about a retired lava demon and his alcoholic tombstone roommate, and a play structured like a five course meal at a roadside diner.
At the Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster St, full details at sohothinktank.org, opens 7/8, closes 8/15.

Fresh Fruit Festival
New York's international (and inclusive!) LGBT theater festival returns in this seventh edition, which includes plays about growing gay and old on the LES and in the Haight-Ashbury, gay country singers, queer Mormons and a man lusting after the hunky funeral parlor director next door.
At Hudson Guild Theater, 441 W 26th St, full details at freshfruitfestival.com, opens 7/9, closes 7/27.

Midtown International Theatre Festival
In its tenth edition this fest spread around Midtown features plays and readings plus a closing award ceremony. This year's productions include plays about Harpo Marx, child celebrities in the future, Adam, Eve and Lillith.
Full details at midtownfestival.org, opens 7/13, closes 8/3.

East to Edinburgh
Think of it as a refueling stop on so many American theater companies' long journeys toward Edinburgh for the biggest arts festival in the world. Can't make it to Scotland for their fringe spectacular? See some of the best entries stateside before they charm European audiences, make it big and, you know, cost a fortune to see.
At 59E59 Theaters, 59 E 59th St, full details at eastofedinburgh.com, opens 7/14, closes 7/26.

Samuel French Inc. Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival
Playwrights are the real stars in play publisher Samuel French's lightening-fast theater competition, with 40 short shows performed in five days for a panel of judges (including established playwrights, agents and artistic directors) who pick six for a final day performance, publication and licensing rights.
At the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 W 23nd St, full details at samuelfrench.com/oobfestival, opens 7/14, closes 7/19.

BoCoCa Arts Festival
Husky Dog Productions' festival in Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill showcases works in theater, performance, dance, music and visual art at venues throughout the South Brooklyn neighborhood and in conjunction with all manner of local business and community group.
Full details at bococaartsfestival.com, opens 7/17, closes 7/26.

International CringeFest '09
The Bad Plays and Bad Musicals Festival expanded to include bad films, changing its name to reflect the unprecedented breadth of tasteless humor and relentless satire that gives it its name. Think something was especially bad-meaning-good? Say so with your vote by bestowing a golden pineapple on your favorite play (and a Jack Lemon for the best actors).
At the Producers' Club, 358 W 44th St, full details at nyartists.org, opens 7/20, closes 8/9.

New York International Fringe Festival
Another massive lineup (200 companies, 20 venues) for the latest edition of North America's biggest multi-arts festival promises the usual uneven mix with truly brilliant gems compensating for more mediocre offerings. Of course, with tickets costing as much as a multiplex movie and providing an infinitely more enjoyable viewing experience, even the so-so shows are worth your time. Look for full coverage in The L, as August approaches.
Full details at fringenyc.org, opens 8/14, closes 8/30.

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