The War of 1812, this time with way more hair gel. The War of 1812, this time with way more hair gel.

Capital Fringe, D.C.’s ever-growing experimental theater festival, is a chance to learn. Sometimes you learn, “Oh, THAT’s what Chekhov is like spoken entirely backward!” or “Oh, THAT’s what happens when you put an audience of 30 people inside a 106-degree tent to watch a musical for 80 minutes!” And sometimes you pick up knowledge that will impress people at cocktail parties. For Fringe’s opening weekend, we’re highlighting particularly educational shows: Browse through the subjects below to decide which one you want to see. Or see them all and be extra-smart.

The lines between theater and game night are blurred in “A Killing Game,” (Woolly Mammoth Melton rehearsal hall, 641 D St. NW), a hit when it ran in D.C. last year. Viewers participate throughout this play about a deadly plague, from the opening, where they’re expected to contribute death scenes, to a survivalist game show where they’re pitted against one another.
What You’ll Learn: Which supplies are most useful in a post-plague economy.

The creator of 2012 Fringe show “In This Economy,” John Krizel is one of the many showrunners this year who funded his project with a Kickstarter campaign. “Social Media Expert” (Gearbox, 1021 Seventh St. NW, third floor) follows a young man who handles social media for a fast food company embroiled in a scandal involving horse meat.
What You’ll Learn: What a job in social media entails.

Last year’s Fringe had a rock musical called “President Harding Is a Rock Star,” making “1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera” (Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar, 607 New York Ave. NW) sound like not so much of a stretch. “1814!” covers such topics as the burning of the White House with songs like “Burning Down the White House.”
What You’ll Learn: All sorts of facts about Dolley Madison.

Faction of Fools’ hourlong “A Commedia Romeo and Juliet” adapts the timeworn Shakespearean story to focus a little bit less on the lovers and a little bit more on the clownish servants. This production (The Shop, 607 New York Ave. NW) has been in the company’s repertoire for a while, touring local schools and theaters; the Fringe version will likely be more rambunctious.
What You’ll Learn: The difference between clowning and commedia.

Audience participation isn’t usually encouraged in modern burlesque. When you’re dealing with half-naked dancers, you want strict boundaries. Not so for “What’s In the BOX?!,” an adults-only Burlesque and Belly Laughs production (The Source, 1835 14th St. NW). The show is based on the seven deadly sins, and the audience chooses the sin. TEAM VANITY!
What You’ll Learn: That “sloth” is a deadly sin.

Various locations; opens Thursday, through July 28.