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Best Experimental Theater Company 

SF Playhouse

You'll hear how contemporary playwrights have an increasingly difficult time getting their work produced in local theater circles because so many companies choose established (some would say "safe") productions because they believe more people will attend. SF Playhouse is not one of those companies. In March and April, it staged Wirehead, a play about a society in which people can buy brain implants to increase their intelligence. Late last year, the company staged Coraline, a modern-day Alice in Wonderland whose set was divided into "real life" areas that were dull gray and "fantasy life" areas where actors wore bright colors and were illuminated with black light. The score was written by Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields fame, who incorporated an instrument known as a "prepared piano," so named because its internal workings are gunked up with the likes of playing cards, sleigh bells, and nuts and bolts. SF Playhouse's most recent production, Reborning, deals with a movement in which parents who've lost a young child order expensive lifelike dolls as ways to help them cope. Not all the chances SF Playhouse takes result in stunning successes. But many do.

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