At this point, it’s fair to say that Nick Stuccio isn’t easily impressed. As producing director of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, he’s spent the past 13 years curating an international showcase of contemporary arts, traveling the world for something new — which, luckily, he still always finds.
“When I go out, I’m looking for something I haven’t seen before. Something that is really striking, and a performance that is really kind of new and innovative,” says Stuccio of putting together the roster, which this year consists of 20 programs — not to mention the 188 that make up its wilder partner in crime, Philly Fringe (see below).
That’s not to say some of the material isn’t familiar. Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s “Romeo and Juliet” starts off with the classic star-crossed lovers, although it’s not clear how this one ends: All of the dialogue is culled from phone calls asking people to tell the story in their own jumbled, ill-informed words. Another piece of required reading provides the text for Elevator Repair Service’s “The Sun Also Rises (The Select)” — but Hemingway wasn’t kind enough to supply the choreography.
But whether it’s experimental Chinese dance theater or the Bang on a Can Marathon, the shows do tend to create their own theme. “When you step back and see what the artists are saying, there’s often some interesting linkage,” says Stuccio. “We’re all concerned about the contemporary world that we live in.”