The occasion of Theatre Santa Fe's third annual Santa Fe Theatre Walk unsurprisingly marks my third annual Theatre Walk column—every year it gets even cooler and even more worth writing about.

For newbies, the Theatre Walk is a one-day theatrical smorgasbord of 10 venues, nearly 20 companies, more than 20 productions, and one wristband that can get you in to see as much as you can in five hours. The first year's walk in 2017 had about 400 attendees. Last year, the second, saw about 800. This year, Theatre Santa Fe President Talia Pura says she expects to easily hit 1,000, and there are even more activities to fit everyone in comfortably.

If you want to plan ahead, get more information about the venues, productions and participating companies at theatresantafe.org (it's way more info than we could ever list here)—or just show up at any of the participating venues at noon on Saturday Sept. 14, pay $5 for a wristband, and see as many as you can by the seat of your pants.

Like Shakespeare? You can have some, both from young actors and seasoned pros. Prefer contemporary drama? Yup, there's plenty of that too. Want to watch improv? All the cool kids are doing it! How about a cabaret-style performance? You bet. Original works from local playwrights? More than we can even name.

This year, the most exciting aspect of the day is the inclusion of theater companies from outside the city of Santa Fe. Nat Gold Players comes in from Las Vegas (as in, Lil' Vegas), and SageRight Productions, headed up by playwright Robert Benjamin, along with the Los Alamos Little Theatre, make the jaunt down the hill. Until now, Theatre Santa Fe was a strictly within-city-limits kind of organization, but things are changing.

"We really wanted to reach out to our neighbors. … As it happened, when we started putting together this year's walk, I realized that … not every one of our companies could participate this year, so it actually opened up a few slots," Pura says. "I think nothing of going to Albuquerque, I've done shows there and rehearsals are not a problem. And Los Alamos and Las Vegas are places that are very reachable. … And we'll support their participation in the Theatre Walk, and they'll be introduced to companies in Santa Fe."

Nat Gold, says interim director Kayt Peck, has been around in some iteration since the 1970s as kind of the theater company laureate of the Las Vegas area. Whenever actors are needed (for example, when Fort Union National Monument in Watrous offers candlelight nights and needs folks in period costumes to lead tours), Nat Gold is there—but now, with a 401(c)(3) status and new regular events, it is at last an actual established company, albeit a homeless one.

Check out Nat Gold's performance of the classic Abbott & Costello skit "Who's On First?" at the Theatre Walk, plus some stand-up comedy from Peck herself. If you like what you see (and we think you will), on Thursday Sept. 19 you can head to Vegas for the Nat Gold Players Nuthouse for more comedy from even more actors.

Benjamin, the playwright from Los Alamos, is no stranger to Santa Fe's scene. He's presented plenty of staged readings at Teatro Paraguas and has had a number of short plays produced as part of the Santa Fe Playhouse's Benchwarmers short play festival, and has long lobbied Theatre Santa Fe to bring outside-town companies into the fold.

Benjamin focuses on aging and death in his plays, injecting comedy and playfulness into a topic that can often feel taboo—even in a city with a median age as old as Santa Fe's. One short piece he presents on Saturday, "Smiles," is a charming story appropriate for both children and adults in which a precocious granddaughter questions her grandfather's wrinkles. Many of the Theatre Walk plays may be a bit heavy for kids, but between the Upstart Crows' scenes from Shakespeare, fun improv and original skits from the Young Playwrights Project and Benjamin's offering, it's a perfect day for all ages.

Is a cooperative event like the Theatre Walk building up to something? Of course, says Pura. "My goal is eventually to have a Fringe Festival in Santa Fe that will be on the fringe circuit," she tells SFR, "and will attract national performers and international performers that do the fringes in other cities. We're gonna get there."

Santa Fe Theatre Walk
Noon-5 pm Saturday Sept. 14. $5.
Various locations;
visit theatresantafe.org for more information.

Nat Gold Players Nuthouse
7 pm Thursday Sept. 19. Free.
Roadrunner Bar and Grill,
1 Country Club Drive, Las Vegas,
425-3858