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About 300 events slated for first Outside the Box summer fest

Strange Fruit, an Australian company that performs using 15-foot flexible poles, will be at Outside the Box this summer in Boston.COURTESY OF STRANGE FRUIT

An eclectic array of theater, music, and dance performances will come to Boston Common, Copley Square, City Hall Plaza, and other spots around town this summer at the inaugural Outside the Box performing arts festival, slated for July 13-20. All of the outdoor performances will be free.

Created by philanthropist Ted Cutler and envisioned as an annual occurrence, the festival will encompass nearly 300 events, unfolding for 10 hours each day. Under the artistic direction of Sherrie Johnson, a veteran of Vancouver, British Columbia’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Outside the Box aims to spotlight performers from more than 80 countries.


The lineup is not yet complete, but among the participants will be Australia’s Strange Fruit, whose costumed performers sway atop poles more than 15 feet tall. The festival will also include performances by Italian musician-composer Mauro Pagani, who will lead an ensemble in an evening of music called “La Notta della Taranta,” and Israeli composer and singer Shye Ben Tzur.

Outside the Box will open on Boston Common July 13 with the premiere of “Welcome to Earth,’’ an ensemble show by a Berklee College of Music collaborative called Rhythm of the Universe.

Theater offerings will include SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “In the Heights,’’ Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,’’ and Robert Brustein’s klezmer musical “King of the Schnorrers,’’ to be presented by Suffolk University and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at the Modern Theatre. Festival organizers are also teaming up with the American Repertory Theater to present more than 30 performances by “local, emerging and celebrated artists’’ inside a Spiegeltent.

Also slated to perform are members of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, Boston Ballet School, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and 2012 winners from the New England Music Awards.

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin