The centerpiece is the U.S. premiere of Back to Back Theatre's experimental work "Food Court," dealing with bullying, body image and the abuse of power. The piece, like all of Back-to-Back's work, is acted out by a troupe of actors with what the company describes as "perceived intellectual disabilities." It's set to a score by the Necks, an avant-jazz group hailing from Australia. Back-to-Back appeared in the 2009 Live Arts with "small metal objects."
Here's a trailer of the piece from a 2009.
The dance program is split down the middle with foreigners and local talent. Sylvain Émard Danse’s "Le Grand Continental," a work featuring 200-plus amateur dancers performing in a 30-minute piece. Originally performed in 2009 in Montreal, the Philadelphia iteration will be the largest of its kind and the biggest piece ever in the Live Arts fest.
In addition, 7 Fingers returns to Live Arts again after bringing "Traces" to the fest last year with "Sequence 8," combining theater with the circus arts (think Cirque du Soleil with all of the talent and less of the pomp and circumstance).
Brian Sanders' JUNK (a local company that is no stranger to the Live Arts fest) will reimagine his 2003 piece "The Gate," with "The Gate Reopened." Jumatatu Poe, another local, will present the premiere of "Private Places" (pictured), featuring J-Setting -- a blend of modern dance and hip hop -- choreography.
In the theater portion, Live Arts all-stars, the Pig Iron Theatre Company, change course from last year's excellent production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." Instead of going classic, they'll premiere "Minister of Mascots," a new collaboration with Japanese playwright/director Toshiki Okada that looks at the effects of the 2011 tsunami on Okada's family. Okada pulls double-duty this Live Arts, working his own company chelfitsch, in a humorous triptych of plays about office drones. The plays will be in Japanese with English subtitles.
Hailing from New York are two companies that deal with the always popular topic of nudity. The Elevator Repair Service reenacts a Supreme Court case, in "Arguendo," in which justices debated whether naked go-go dancing was protected under the first amendment. Young Jean Lee Theater Company's "Untitled Feminist Show" is "a nude exploration of gender identity," bringing together dancers, actors and burlesque performers. Young Jean Lee promises to look at the topic with humor and irreverence.
Edgar Allan Poe's last days are explored in a collaboration between Philly's own Lucidity Suitcase International and Minneapolis' The Wilhelm Brothers for "Red-Eye to Have de Grace." While this may have been the subject of a surprisingly boring recent John Cusack movie, we have higher hopes for this take directed by Philly superstar director Thaddeus Phillips.
Live Arts regulars round out the theater program, as New Paradise Laboratories abandons previous topics of social media for a similarly daunting topic -- the afterlife -- in their new show "27." Charlotte Ford's piece "Bang," featuring familiar names Lee Etzold and Sarah Sanford, looks at the idea of women and comedy.
Two festival projects bust out of traditional venue spaces, making Philadelphia stage unto itself. Headlong Dance Theater's "This Town is a Mystery" performing their work in four households all around the city, transforming private living rooms into theater spaces.
Flying high above the Ben Franklin Parkway will be Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s "Open Air," commissioned by the Association for Public Art. Passersby will be able to control 24 robotic spotlights dotted along the Parkway through a free mobile app, their voices and GPS in order to create a light sculpture above the city. While Live Arts has dealt in the visual arts before, no projects have been to this scale.
Tickets for the festival will go on sale in mid-june via the Live Arts website, or at the Box Office at 215-413-1318.