2005_07_arts_spfbottle.JPG If the hot, sticky weather is good for nothing else, it’s a great reason to head to a play in a nice air-conditioned theater, and over the next couple weeks opportunities to see cutting-edge, inexpensive shows abound. Every year there seem to be more and more festivals; we’re still 5 weeks away from the opening of the Fringe Fest, but several have already come and gone, and by Gothamist’s count there are no fewer than eight opening in short order.

In order not to get ahead of ourselves, for now we'll stick to what's coming up this week. First is the Summer Play Festival, which is in its second year and features 16 up-and-coming playwrights. For the price of a movie ticket you can see shows in Theatre Row, which is an opportunity not to be missed. This week, the four openings are tempOdyssey, Wildlife, Courting Vampires, and crooked. TempOdyssey (written by Dan Dietz) in particular sounds like a potential good time; it’s about a temp who’s really great and all, except for that little detail about her believing she’s the Angel of Death and the difficulties that would create in any employment situation but especially at a bomb factory like the one where she’s placed.

2005_07_arts_fathom.jpg Opening tomorrow is the twelfth annual Ice Factory festival at the Ohio Theatre; it’s put on by the SoHo Think Tank. In past years the festival’s offerings have gotten rave reviews and introduced companies that might otherwise get less support in New York, like Gothamist’s favorite Pig Iron Theatre from Philly. There’s a play a week throughout July, beginning with SaBooge Theatre’s Fathom, which won Best Show in Dublin’s Fringe Fest last year. SaBooge is Montreal- and Brooklyn-based, and like Pig Iron is heavily influenced by the physical theatre style of the Lecoq school in Paris. There isn’t much advance info to be had about the show apart from a vague blurb about a shell collector and sickly boy navigating science and survival in Tasmania, so you’ll just have to go on the good reviews it’s gotten elsewhere, and Ice Factory’s reputation for bringing fantastic shows here.

Then, starting Saturday is a collaboration of chashama and BAM in Fort Greene. The 2nd OutsideArt festival doesn’t give you the nice air conditioned atmosphere, granted, but then it’s also free. The festival goes for a month, though the number of performances is limited, and the first show is even harder to imagine in words than Fathom. Starting at 1pm on Saturday, Noriko Wako will be installing an adaptation of Zeami’s Ha-Go-Ro-Mo, a classic Noh work that (here, at least) involves dance and music among large sheets of rice paper hanging from trees. Sounds a bit odd, to say the least, but also potentially fascinating. Next week Women’s Voices/Women’s Visions, a combination of dance and spoken word, will do its part for gender understanding by showing perspectives on the female experience from both men and women’s points of view. Free, new, different – what more can you ask for? Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Theatre for the Cheap and Curious.

Details: Summer Play Festival is in various theatres at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St. See the website for details about when individual shows are on.
The Ice Factory Festival is at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster.
Fathom is playing July 6-9 at 7pm. Tickets at Smarttix.
OutsideArt is in the BAM Park at the intersection of Lafayette Ave. and Fulton St. in Fort Greene. The technical start time for
Ha-Go-Ro-Mo is 7pm on July 9; it's also on Sunday at the same time.