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Small and Select, Theater Festivals that Seek Out the Best

Every August, the sprawling International Fringe Festival brings 1200 performances from over 200 countries to 20 venues around the city (or thereabouts.) In the meantime, there are a number of smaller festivals popping up with promising new fare.

1. Each year, esteemed playwrights submit their one-act works to be presented at the Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon. Two series of five plays each are on the slate for the festival, which runs through the 26th. The selections include David Aubern, who wrote the Pulitzer-Prize winning Proof, among a number of other theater vets.

2. Though July 3, 59E59 is staging the New York premiers of five plays all showcasing an aspect of U.S. history. Four of the five plays originated from regional theater companies, and the fifth, Jack’s Precious Moment, hails from Brooklyn.

3. It's a little disingenuous to call the Lincoln Center Festival a "smaller" theater festival.  Still, with its highly curated group international theater troupes, the Festival presents a select cross-section of European and Asian productions.  The six-hour The Demons on Governors Island sold out the day tickets went on sale, but there are seats for the remaining four plays from Europe and Asia, including Tbilisi Municipal Theater Studio’s The Battle of Stalingrad.

5. For the 15th year Clubbed Thumb returns to the Ohio Theater in Soho for its Summerworks series. The 2010 edition features three plays by emerging playwrights. As a bonus, each Monday the playwrights, directors and a guest artist will sit for a Q&A with the festival directors.