If there is one thing that the city of Toronto is blessed with, it is an abundance of creativity, eager to show off its plethora of unique performance ideas and colorful displays. While of course one may easily access these throughout the year, it’s in the summertime that these elements come out of the woodwork to produce a wonderful series of opportunities to experience Toronto’s creativity first hand.
(Read all about advance impressions of SummerWorks from our newest writer, Gabriel Nylund).
Carrying the baton this summer from Thursday August 7th to Thursday August 17th is the annual SummerWorks Festival. This 23-year-old juried festival, similar to the Toronto Fringe Festival in many respects, boasts a mandate to curate a theatrical aesthetic questioning traditional performance methods and taking further risks in attempts to pursue new and unique choices in how strong theatre is performed.
Perhaps you may find yourself keen on checking out project like The Water Thief, a multi-format performance piece that tells a story in fable-like fashion of a haunting experience of an abandoned East Coast town that time has forgot. It’s a story interconnecting an endless dream, a giant clock, an old man and a whale that all share some unsettling relationship with each other. This production is a theatre-based event that directly involves the use of film, music and projection art put on by Dora-moinated designer Sean Frey and multimedia artist Amy Siegel. (August 7th – 15th at St John’s Polish National Catholic Cathedral).
Alternatively, for those interested in fables of a different sort, there is Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales, a piece designed as antithetical to traditional children’s fables. Dora-nominated playwright Erin Fleck employs shadow puppetry, projection, and stop-motion and her reputation for tightly-organized narration to tell a story of dark comedy and magical tragedy to tell a story that is most definitely not for children. (August 7th – August 17th at Lower Ossington Theatre Studio).
Continuing with the theme of story-telling projects is the work of composer Kevin Wong and his production Recurring John. Through the use of a six-piece band and a cast of seven, Wong envisioned the oral biography of a man named John as told through the eyes of various people close to him. Through the personal impressions of these various individuals the audience will learn about the imposing influence one man can have on those around him. Organizers warn of explicit language and minimal sexual content. (August 10th, at Artscape Youngplace).
Of course, tradition-bucking theatre may not be your cup of tea, so feel free to check out the multitude of other events during the festival, such as Brenden Canning & Brendan Healy’s One Night, Two Brendans or Light Fires’ & Adam Lazarus’ Do I have to do Everything My F**king Self?
The festival boasts a juried series, music projects, dance, and various youth programing; all taking place in well-known Toronto venues such as The Theatre Centre, Scotiabank Studio Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Lower Ossington Theatre, The Great Hall, Gladstone Hotel, ArtScape Youngplace, and various public space locales. So if you’re mind is even remotely considering attending the SummerWorks festival, there is almost certainly something in the festival schedule that will pique your curiosity, challenging you to question your notions of what makes up traditional theatre production, encouraging you to be engaged with something new.