The 25th annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival is on and live for 2021 with founder, booker, curator and overseer Nick Stucco at the helm.
Without running down a long list of the large-scaled, commissioned curated productions and smaller-sized independent showcases that fill this year’s, annual, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, it is more important to know these things for 2021:
a) That founder, booker, curator and overseer Nick Stuccio is proud of the fact that independent artists – for the first time, in 2021 – have created and are performing shows for the Fringe without a registration fee, a big deal in such lousy economic times. “We had a record number of artists sign on as soon as we announced we were open for business for 2021’s fest,” says Stuccio. “And we did away with charging fees to independent artists, and we will never charge them again.”
b) That founder, booker, curator and overseer Nick Stuccio is proud of the fact that, for 2021, this Fringe Festival will not follow the model of 2020, and the pandemic, and hold a majority of virtual events. While one-and-two handers, and small casts riddle the independent side of the Fringe for the sense of distance and safety, it is back to business with live, on stage, and in-person large-scale events the likes of which make the Fringe awesome (not that the smaller shows are not also amazing). Sometimes, scale and size – live and in your face – matters. “I wanted 2021 to be a return to the stage, where ever those stages may be,” says Stuccio, remarking on how the idea of a Fringe “stage” is un-traditional and could be anything from parking lots to alleyways, to lawns and coffee shops.
c) That founder, booker, curator and overseer Nick Stuccio is proud of the fact that, for 2021, many of the Philadelphia artists that he and his Fringe came up with a quarter of a century ago – Dan Rothenberg’s Pig Iron Theatre, Nichole Canuso, Catharine Slusar, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Whit Maclaughlin’s New Paradise Laboratories – are with Stuccio again for this year’s Fringe Festival, presenting some of the most stirring and strangely unique work of their lives. “I love that so many of the artists that we came up with, together, are here for 2021. 1996 into 1997 is pivotal for Philadelphia’s art and performance scene. These artists are the spine of the Fringe Festival.”
d) That founder, booker, curator and overseer Nick Stuccio is proud of the fact that, for 2021, there are just as many brave new world artists, as many new national, international and local theater/performance artists, as there are veterans to amaze. Stuccio actually did give me a great, small list, including “Sun & Sea,” a five-hour opera produced with Arcadia University using the former Budd railcar plant as a beach with singers and beachcombers viewed from a four-sided mezzanine. There is also a smaller scaled “Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge,” a wild reenactment of the James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr. Cambridge University Union race debates of 1965.
e) His list was much longer, but, I’m not telling you what. Because the joy of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival – any and every Philadelphia Fringe Festival – is discovery. Running your finger down a list, seeing what is most bracing or unique or dazzling, and going. So start discovering tonight, September 9 through October 3.