In a theater scene as crowded as D.C.’s, it’s tough for casual theatergoers to know which shows deserve a piece of their paycheck. Let the 12th annual Page-to-Stage Festival help with that. Over Labor Day weekend, the Kennedy Center will host a blitz of free open rehearsals and readings by more than 40 D.C.-area companies. Small troupes like dog & pony dc and Flying V will be in the house to preview work from their coming seasons, as will students from Georgetown, Catholic, Howard, and Bowie State. Other shows on the schedule explore the strange: sharks seeking swimming lessons; rabbis converting to Catholicism. But Synetic Theater brings the piece with the loudest buzz: a preview of the movement-based troupe’s anticipated adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (shown). By the end of the weekend, patrons should have a good idea of what shows to catch this fall—and which to politely acknowledge and circumvent.

The festival runs noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, 6 to 7 p.m. Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. Free. (202) 467-4600. kennedy-center.org