Fringe 2013 Preview

Reggie Wilson , part of FringeArts' The Hatchery Pro, is also on the Fringe schedule.
Reggie Wilson , part of FringeArts' The Hatchery Pro, is also on the Fringe schedule.
Posted: June 07, 2013

JUNE HAS just begun busting out all over, but September will be here soon enough, and with it will come the 2013 Fringe Festival, the envelope-pushing orgy of theater, music, dance, performance art and more, formerly known as Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

The lineup for the 18-day bash was recently announced and is highlighted by seven international artists, four world premieres and two productions from past years that have been, as they say in Fringe-speak, "re-imagined."

The global contingent includes Italian contemporary artist Romeo Castellucci; Norwegian theater titan Jo Stromgren; Irish step dancer Colin Dunne; German circus-arts creator Tobias Wegner; Theodoros Terzopoulos, a Greek director acclaimed for what is described as his "ritualistic" interpretations of ancient tragedy; and British performance artist Ant Hampton.

Among those representing more geographically proximate precincts are Philadelphians Brian Sanders and Geoff Sobelle. Sanders is an acclaimed dance creator; Sobelle has long been associated with Pig Iron Theatre Company.

Running Sept. 5-22, this year's event doesn't appear to be shaping up as anything radically different from what has been offered the previous 16 years. But, said the man under whose direction the fest is being staged, strides continue to be made.

"Every year we try to present a new set of shows and every year we grow in terms of the kind of work we know how to present," said Nick Stuccio, president and producing director of FringeArts (formerly the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe).

"Some of the shows we present are pretty sophisticated. There's a lot of shipping [sets, props, costumes, etc.], there's a lot of people coming from foreign countries. Every year we get better at understanding how to do it more efficiently, more effectively."

While Stuccio and his minions strive to improve the audience's Festival experience every year, he noted that the program's core mission remains unchanged: To provide the venue for artists to present their unique visions of the world around them.

"We are a platform, a conduit, for some of the world's most amazing art ideas," he offered. "Everybody in their corner of the world has got some kind of take on their culture, on their society, on global issues, on local issues. When we get them all here at the same time, it's a snapshot of how artists see the world. And to me, how artists see the world is really interesting. They shine a mirror on us as a culture, as a society."

Last February, FringeArts began construction on its first permanent headquarters - a performance space/administrative center located on the Delaware River at Race Street. The $7 million complex's 240-seat theater was intended to host several Festival shows, but, Stuccio lamented, that will not be the case.

"We don't think we're going to be able to put on any shows in the new building," he said. "We have delays with some of the components, the seating riser and a few other things.

"This is a 110-year-old building, and while digging underground for an elevator pit and stair tower . . . we [encountered] a whole bunch of 'surprises.' All these little 'knives' [mean] we're not really sure when we're going to start doing shows there. It's possible to do shows for the festival there, but we just don't know yet."

For schedule, ticket information, go to fringearts.com.

Wilma sweet on 'Bootycandy'

"Bootycandy," has been extended through June 22 at the Wilma Theater. The show, a critically acclaimed look at being gay and African-American, marks the Wilma debut of writer-director Robert O'Hara, whose recent kudos have come in the forms of Obie, Helen Hayes and NAACP "Best Director" awards. The piece is billed as "a procession of contemporary vaudevillian vignettes teaching lessons about love, soul and race as found in the Gospel according to Michael Jackson, Jackie Collins and RuPaul."
Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., show times vary, $25 and $10 (students), 215.546.7824, wilmatheater.org.

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