What Not to Miss at SummerWorks 2017

SummerWorks is known as a great avenue for emerging artists in Toronto to present their work. Hosting over 500 artists and performing in over 50 performance projects across the city in multiple venue formats. This year, SummerWorks is curated by the new Artistic Director, Laura Nanni, whose major theme this year driving her curation of the festival focused around the question: “how do we come together?”

There are beautiful relationships built between artists and audiences, sharing art and creating intimate moments and experiences within a single hour. Laura Nanni set to focus on how we connect “across these cultural, geographical, social and political divides and also how artists are using technology to facilitate that connection and mediate artistic experiences.”

Below, we have listed some must see acts throughout the festival to enjoy with friends, family, or solo.

SUMMERWORKS 2017 HIGHLIGHTS

The Archivist – Created, Performed and Produced by Shaista Latif 

Shaista Latif is a lot of different people. She’s created them all to serve you. War, Sex, Money and Art has shaped her places in the world. As a response, Shaista makes an archive of music, text, video and stories to see if she can create one identity that will serve all.

 Chemical Valley Project (Double Bill with Perfection) Created by Julia Howman and Kevin Matthew Wong

Aamjiwnaang, an indigenous community of 800 residents, is smothered by the Canadian petrochemical industry. Two sisters, Vanessa and Lindsay Gray, have dedicated themselves to fighting environmental racism and protecting their community’s land and water. In Chemical Valley Project, theatre-makers Kevin and Julia document and explore Canada’s ongoing relationship with energy infrastructure, its colonial past and present, and indigenous solidarity and reconciliation.

 

DIVINE – Written by Natalie Frija; Directed by Claire Burns; Performed by Amanda Cordner, Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Christina Bryson, Sarah Naomi Campbell, Haley Garnett and Rehaset Yohanes

Ontario is out of water and a pair of bandits search for their last hope – a water diviner by the name of Penn. Stories say she can crack the world like a coconut and make water bubble to the surface with nothing but her hands. But the bandits aren’t the only ones hunting her down. And what if there’s nothing left for Penn to divine? An all woman cast in Natalie Frijia’s post-apocalyptic wild west asks how we would survive in a world without water. Would we turn to community… or to revenge?

 

 

Explosions for the 21st Century – Written, Designed, and Performed by Chris Ross-Ewart; Directed and Dramaturged by Graham Isador

With field recordings, audio effects, and a well-timed air horn, Explosions for the 21st Century uses sound design to explore contemporary culture. The result is part lecture, part stand-up, and part existential crisis. Written and performed by Chris Ross-Ewart, the show is an erratic, real time, exploration of why we make sound and how we listen.

  

Let’s Try This Standing – Written and Performed by Gillian Clark; Directed by Anthony Black

Six years ago, Gillian was hit by an SUV. She was on the sidewalk. Now, Gillian is a professional theatre artist. Let’s Try This Standing is about shitting on nurses, having sex with atrophied muscles, and being massaged by a therapist as he eats a bagel. It doesn’t offer easy answers, but it does let us be in a room together and be honest about how okay we are.

 

 Mother Sea / Manman la Mer (Double Bill with What Do You See?)  Written and Performed by Djennie Laguerre; Directed and Dramaturgy by Rhoma Spencer

In the tradition of Haitian storytelling, Mother Sea / Manman la Mer) takes us on a journey that joins magic, love, and redemption. It is the story of a woman who can see the future in her dreams but is cut off from her abilities by her mother’s fear. After healing from a mysterious sickness, her dreams disappear along with her sense of self. 25 years later, only her grandmother can restore her faith and her ancestral lineage.

 

The Only Good Indian – Project Design by Jivesh Parasram; Co-Created by Jivesh Parasram, Tom Arthur Davis, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Part lecture, part meditation, and part threat, The Only Good Indian takes a shockingly raw look at where our similarities begin and where they end. Each night a different performer straps themselves into an extreme situation – forcing the audience to ask – what would you die for?

 

Serenity Wild – Directed by Audrey Dwyer; Written by Katie Sly

Amy has a hard time feeling present. Liam, her loving boyfriend, will do whatever he can to wake her up – whether Amy’s ready for it or not. Tenderness turns into teasing turns into BDSM, and Amy’s boundaries around safety and danger become blurred. At what point does Liam’s concern become coercion? Can Amy trust Liam’s good intentions, or is presence a place she needs to find on her own? Winner of the 2016 Wildfire National Playwriting Competition.

 

 

The Waves – Written, Performed, and Produced by Laura Quigley

Co-Directed by Governor General Award-winning playwright Judith Thompson and world-renowned singer / ‘vocalographer’ Fides Krucker, The Waves offers a unique sonic experience with a score that stretches the boundaries of vocal expression on stage. Written and performed by Laura Quigley, the play is based on three generations of birth stories and explores birth, motherhood, and the dark undercurrent of one woman’s struggle with post-partum depression.

 

 

White Man’s Indian – Written and Performed by Darla Contois; Direction and Dramaturgy by Ed Roy

This is the story of Eva, a Cree teenage girl, and her journey through the maze of a White Man’s high school. In a hilarious new work from emerging First Nations artist Darla Contois, Eva goes on a quest for identity and spirituality through the hallways of teen angst, racism, and an evil prom queen. Both poetic and humorous, White Man’s Indian is a moving story of memory, courage, alienation, and belonging.

 

The Invisible City – Concept and Direction by Daniele Bartolini; Performed by Rory de Brouwer, Danya Buonastella and Joslyn Rogers

 The creators of The Stranger present a new interactive experience, divided into two episodes. Starting from your own home, you will receive a mysterious night time phone call. A voice invites you and a group of strangers to speak about your dreams and share your life story. The following night, you will enter the invisible city and be transported through a collective dream. See website for full performance details.

 

 

Landline – Created by Dustin Harvey and Adrienne Wong

A performance that takes place in two places at once, Landline is a curious exposure to the feeling of being alone, together… You will become both the audience and the performer as you converse in real time via text message with a fellow participant in Hamilton and go on an audio-guided, experiential walking tour. As the experience unfolds, you are prompted to share stories, memories, and secrets as the urban landscape transforms into a backdrop for the relationship forming between two strangers.

 

Ghost Days – Created and Performed by Terrance Houle

Evoking our colonial and non-colonial histories that exist in the light of night as in the darkness of the day, GHOST DAYS awakens a collaboration with artists, audience, and spirit. Internationally celebrated performance artist Terrance Houle will work in residence over night at the Theatre Centre throughout the festival, culminating in a final performance that combines video, performance, photography, and music to conjure spirits and ghosts as audience and collaborators.

 

Find the full line up and details of SummerWorks here, and continue following our arts and culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Bars Around Town: Archive

On one side of Archive, an exposed brick wall partly covered with a vase of baguettes and jars of pickles and dried herbs and spices lead to the bar and kitchen. On the other, a pristine white wall is background for a row of wooden tables and a bench, and decorative photographs of ferris wheels and a carousel. The space is longer than it is wide and is decidedly cozy. On a recent visit, a traveler sat planning out her itinerary next to a group of coworkers on a night out; a young couple perched by the bar and chatted with the staff; two old women sat in the corner by the window and quietly worked on their bottle of orange wine. With its two windows facing a calmer bit of Dundas West and Bellwoods and low hung yellow lights, Archive is a picture of a place one imagines one would someday stumble into, make chance acquaintance with and fall in love.

The wine list is not exhaustive but long enough for a good perusal and the small menu of tapas and cheese & meats encourage adventures and learning by trial and error. The staff take a “What do you like to drink?” approach, which is, more often than not, for formality than function, but the 3oz glass option ease the pressure. But a recommendation from a well informed staff — a glass of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from A. A. Tiberio — was refreshingly dry and delicious with notes of flowers and, in the parlance of wine descriptions, ‘minerals.’ The point, it dawned on me half way through my second glass, was to be okay with not putting the exacting words of description to a wine. A glass of pinot noir from Alsace sealed my trust in her recommendations.

The foods offers, however, were less satisfying. Small savory snacks are offered as ‘Nibbles,’ $5 per plate or three plates for $13. Though the warmed olives are decent, neither the lupini beans (served in olive oil and salt) nor the shishito peppers offer much flavor. That the bread and oil are not complementary is perhaps becoming the norm in the restaurant world today, but the utterly soft and flavorless slices of baguette were an affront to good hospitality. Neither the Prosciutto nor the Chorizo offered much solace, but the Comté was, as it often is, satisfying. The steak tartare is served with the yolk of a quail egg and the shaved vegetable salad includes watermelon radishes.

Archive is located at 909 Dundas St W and is open everyday from 5pm to 2am. Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Q&A With Mani Eustis

Mani Eustis is a Toronto-based playwright and creator of Fancy Bits TheatreAccording to her website, she started the company “a year out of theatre school on the belief that there were too many tragic plays about women and comedies where the only female roles were the ‘not funny character’. The solution, start a company dispelling the myth of the humorless lady.” We sat down with her to talk about her latest play, Sorry I Can’t Come to Your Show”, which she wrote and directed and is set inside of her own kitchen!

Adina: Could you talk a bit about your writing process? How long did this take you to finish?

Mani: The writing process was very organic, if the play feels like stream of consciousness that’s because it was. I went into it being frustrated that I was not doing anything creative so I told myself — Okay Mani you need to finish a play, that’s it. Usually I go into a project having these big ideas of what I want to create but for this I just wrote a scene and then looked at it and tried to find patterns or themes and then let that inform the next scene. It was a really enjoyable way to write. It was also fast because I wasn’t constantly editing myself, or worrying about a rigid narrative or structure. In some ways, the show is still in its early stages. I am sure I could add to it or edit and improve it but I also think there is something to be said for just doing a project quick and dirty.

A: A lot of this play skewers playwrights who use rape for shock value. How do you think writers can balance telling stories with emotion without exploiting pain to get some cheap tears?

M: I think the first thing to do is to move away from the portrayal of rape and violence against women as leading to hysteria. Not that it is a not-valid way to react to trauma but there are so many ways that people deal with traumatic events, so many surprising and subtle ways that I feel the media and theatre rarely explores. I honestly think sometimes people google search “how does it feel after rape” click the first link and then base their characters’ experience on that. But really, it’s all subjective, some people might be really moved by stories of women enduring hardship. I just feel I know the story so well that I would prefer to see a play about a woman organizing her bookshelf over a woman getting thrown against it.

A: Which works/writers/directors did you use as inspiration, if any?

M: I watch a lot of comedy and TV. I also have been incredibly inspired by the Toronto based absurdist dance theatre company ROCK BOTTOM MOVEMENT.

Still from Sorry I Can’t Come to Your Show. Photo by Justine McCloskey

A: What, if anything, were you hoping for the audience to take with them after the show?

M: I would love for the audience to a) have thought it was funny and enjoyed their night; or b) are angry and didn’t get it (because everyone has a right to their opinion); and c) have different interpretations about the play itself gain insight into things that maybe even I missed.

A: The play makes great use of its kitchen setting. Did you always know it was going to be in your apartment?

M: As soon as my boyfriend and I moved into the apartment I knew I wanted to do a show in it. The high ceilings, hanging lights, and open space were just begging for it. So yes, I wrote the whole show with my kitchen in mind. However, once we started rehearsal I really discovered that the space had way more to offer then I realized, all the cupboards as the back drop lent themselves so well to adding an heir of strange mystery and randomness.

A: Were there any specific playwrights that inspired ‘Jeremy’, or is he just a composite of obnoxious male playwrights?

M: He was definitely a mix of people and ideas.  A lot of the play draws from my experience with theatre school feeling pressure to share intimate details of your life, feeling pressure to emote even if you can’t or don’t want to. I once had a class where we actually had to go around in a circle and say, ‘ I AM LOST’ one by one, moan it. My question is when does all this ‘feeling’ become one big circle jerk? Jeremy is an embodiment of the self-indulgent. An artist who literally masturbates onstage. And we hate him, and love him and are incredibly jealous of him. He is that pretentious guy who is so beautiful but a complete asshole and on top of it all will always be more popular and successful then you. He is the quintessential fuckboy (excuse my language).

A: What are the connections you made between writing and astral projection?

M: I think as a writer and an artist particularly a female artist. To a certain degree you are trying to see your art and yourself from an objective point of view, I want to see what other people see.  There is this constant other gaze and if only you could see what they could see. This is obviously impossible but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could for a second step outside yourself and look at what you created and really see it. Get rid of all the ego and insecurity. So, Astral Projection was a little bit of a metaphor for that. The playwright tries to leave her body so she can look down on herself and see herself clearly.

Still from Sorry I Can’t Come to Your Show. Photo by Justine McCloskey

A: What was the casting process like?

M: The casting process was great! I am so lucky to have found three women who are so talented and so perfect for their roles. The audition itself was probably more unique then a lot of auditions in that I had them do a comedic interpretive dance to “I’m Crying” By Roy Orbison (which was later a part of the play) And one of the main things I was looking for was people who wouldn’t take it to seriously who were able to be goofy. Because despite some serious themes the whole show is really a goofy show. I remember Marina Gomes who plays the playwright did a funny dance that involved a lot of slo-mo running. I also remember being a little intimidated by Marina Moreira and thinking- bam yep she’s perfect for the Artist.  As well Mallory Palmer doing by far the best old Hollywood voice I have ever heard so I wanted her to play Audrey. Also, she is very tall. This is something I tell her all the time that she is so tall! Short people appreciate tall people. So, long story short I am so happy with my cast. They are so talented and funny.

A: Are you working on anything now?

M: I always have a million ideas for things I want to do, start writing etc. But I am not actively working on anything besides this just yet. I will probably go through the dreaded grant application process soon though because I would really like to be able to pay my actors more then profit share and I haven’t yet been able to pay myself so I would like to maybe have enough money to pay my actors and me.  But whatever it is it will be a comedy in some sense of the word and only have women in it. I think the next show will probably have much more drag in it. I really like girls playing boys. I think its because as an actress I love playing male characters but after university that doesn’t really happen and its a shame because there are so many great male roles out there that could probably be better acted by a women.

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Sets You Don’t Want to Miss at WayHome 2017

With WayHome Music Festival right around the corner, we have all been prepping our bodies, minds, and bank accounts for the big weekend ahead. If you’re anything like me, you’re not excited to be camping for three days, but there is nothing like the motivation one gets from seeing their favourite artist’s name printed on a lineup. I will run the risk of not having a hot shower (or a shower at all for the matter) for three days, just for the opportunity to be 10 feet away from Frank Ocean’s feet.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it will be a long 72 hours, but together, we can make things work. Below I have compiled a list of must-see sets at this year’s WayHome, along with the details of where each artist will be playing. You can thank me now, or later, but don’t forget to see these talented individuals in all their glory under the beaming sun.

FRIDAY, JULY 28th 2017

Photo by Bryan Allen Lamb

NONAME [WayHome Stage @ 3:45-4:15 PM]

Noname, otherwise known to her parents and childhood friends as Fatima Warner, is a Chicago MC first known for her cameos on Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap”, as well as Mick Jenkin’s mixtape, “The Waters”. Following this debut, Noname took her time and carefully detailed and executed her breakout project, Telefone, which provided hungry fans with a body of work. Noname is an up-and-comer with melodic soundscapes and lyrics that weave into poetry.

Photo by Zack Vitiello

ALLAN RAYMAN [WayBright Stage @ 4:30-5:00 PM]

Toronto native, Allan Rayman is an enigma. Fairly new to the scene, Rayman has managed to steer clear of the spotlight and keep his identity something of a mystery. His first ever interview was released in February of 2017 with Billboard. He is currently signed to Communion Records and has released two albums, Hotel Allen” and “Roadhouse 01” as well as two singles, “Much Too Much” and “All at Once“. Rayman’s vocal style is gritty and soulful, and his music crosses boundaries between genres.

Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

DANNY BROWN [WayAway Stage @ 12:15-1:00 PM]

For those looking to end the WayHome Friday with a bang, attend Danny Brown’s closing set. This Detroit-native is no stranger to the festival circuit; he delivers high-energy through his performances without missing a beat. Danny’s shows are known for getting quite rowdy and #NSFW, to say the least, but that certainly doesn’t take away from his big finish.

SATURDAY, JULY 29TH 2017

Cover of Charlotte Cardin’s Big Boy EP

CHARLOTTE CARDIN [WayBright Stage @ 2:00-2:30 PM]

Charlotte Cardin is a pop/electro singer from Montréal who is best known for her single, “Like It Doesn’t Hurt, featuring Husser. Her smooth vocals compliment any backdrop, while her lyrics sing truths about tales of lost loves and relationships. Charlotte released her solo debut EP, “Big Boy“, in 2016 with Cult Nation Records with songs in both English and French.

Photo by Carlotta Guerrero

SOLANGE [WayBright Stage @ 8:30-9:30 PM]

One simply cannot leave out this beauty while highlighting the best-of-the-best at WayHome. Without Solange, there would be no list, and, frankly, if you take anything away from this article, let it be this one suggestion: do not miss her set.

Photo by Steven Taylor

RUSS [WayAway Stage @ 12:15-1:00 PM]

Russ is not only a singer-songwriter, but a producer, a beat-maker, and an artist who never stops grinding for his dream. Over the past decade, Russ has put out consistent singles and videos, making him a rising-star from Atlanta. Russ has released eleven “unofficial” albums before eventually signing to Columbia records and releasing his newest project, “There’s Really A Wolf“.

SUNDAY, JULY 30TH 2017

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

MITSKI [WayBright Stage @ 6:00-6:45 PM]

In 2016, Mitski released her fourth studio album, “Puberty 2” through Dead Oceans Records. The whole world applauded Mitski’s vulnerable and complex songwriting, whose subjects include love, depression, self-alienation, and racial identity. The New York Times describes “Puberty 2” as “an impressive collection of D.I.Y punk and indie rock.”

Photo by Liam MacRae & Sean Brown

DANIEL CAESAR [ WayAway Stage @ 6:45-7:30 PM]

Daniel Caesar is a singer-songwriter making waves in the Toronto music scene. Transcending the frameworks of R&B/Soul, Daniel’s music resonates with his audience and creates a moments of self-examination through his lyrics. The 21-year old Toronto native debuted in 2014 with his EP “Praise Break” and has since received attention from major music publications across the country. Daniel speaks directly to a millennial generation through ballads of love, lust, and faith.

Source: The Independent

FRANK OCEAN [WayHome Stage @ 9:45-11:15 PM]

I don’t think there is a combination of words or sentences that I can string together to explain the excitement I feel to finally see Frank Ocean live at WayHome. After a four-year hiatus, Frank has delivered with Blonde, Endless, and consistent singles we will cherish for decades to come. *cough* “Lens” *cough.* This angel sent from above needs no backstory or convincing. See his show, fall in love, and dance slowly under the moonlight, drifting away with his voice.

See the full line up for the 3 day festival here, and continue following our arts and culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Novella’s Fall Book Preview

Novella’s given you, our faithful readers, a preview of upcoming movies and TV shows coming this fall. Now it’s time to shine our spotlight on books!

Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (pub date: Sept. 5th)

Tracing the past and the present of Mississippi, Ward’s upcoming novel follows a family – Jojo, his younger sister Kayla, and their mother Leonie – as they move toward the state penitentiary after hearing about the release of the children’s white father from prison. Exploring the love and limitations of family in the face of racism and poverty, Sing, Unburied, Sing parallels the likes of Toni Morrison.

Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (pub date: Sept. 12th) 

Set in an idyllic Cleveland suburb, Ng’s latest novel centers on two mothers and their children: Elena Richardson, who parallels the suburb’s composed order, and Mia Warren, who resists the said order. Soon a divisive custody battle — a result of the Richardson’s family friends’ endeavor to adopt a Chinese-American baby — creates animosity between the two women. Described as witty and wise, Little Fires Everywhere traces the nature of secrets, art, and, above all, motherhood.

Sam Sax’s Madness (pub date: September 12th)

Sax’s debut poetry collection challenges notions of masculinity, sanity, heterosexuality, and normality. Writing about sex, hysteria and lobotomy, and his own experiences with mental health, Sax uses peculiarities in of the language to parallel and contemplate the peculiarities of the human mind.

Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead (pub date: Sept 5th)

Smith’s second poetry collection, like his previous work, discusses race, sexuality, power, and politics. It begins with imagining an afterlife for black men shot by the police and traces desire and mortality in relation to the body. A poet and an activist, Smith’s work has been celebrated for its innovative and political voice.

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (pub date: October 3rd)

Set in Brooklyn in the 1930’s, Pulitzer-winner Egan’s novel follows an 11-year-old Anna Kerrigan, her father, and a nightclub owner named Dexter Styles, whom Anna learns is critical to her family’s existence. Eight years later, America is in the Second World War and Anna’s father is missing. A chance meeting with Dexter, however, helps Anna trace the complexities and, ultimately, the truth of her father’s disappearance. Egan’s first historical fiction, Manhattan Beach explores the oppositions within and dualities of human existence.

Jermey Dauber’s Jewish Comedy: A Serious History (pub date: Oct. 31st)

Divided into what Dauber refers to as the seven strands of Jewish comedy, the book delves into the ways in which Jewish comedy has approached persecution and diaspora. Examining comedic archetypes along with major Jewish comedians (Philip Roth, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart), Dauber’s work has been described as funny and crucial scholarship of Jewish history.

Han Kang’s The White Book (pub date: Nov. 2nd) 

The White Book, described as “the most autobiographical and the most experimental to date” by Portobello Books, is Korean writer Han Kang’s third publication in English. Starting with a list of white things the author saw in Warsaw (where she completed her writer’s residency), the book centers on Kang’s older sister, who’d died two hours after birth. Paralleling and intertwining imagery of the city and a new life cut short, Kang creates a genre-defying piece of literature, reflecting on life and death and survival.

Hallie Lieberman’s Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy (pub date: Nov. 7th) 

Lieberman writes about the history of vibrators, tracing the changes in the ways in which it has been used and perceived. Starting with the lubricant in Ancient Greece all the way up to vibrators in present day, Lieberman discusses sex toys within the context of various attitudes towards sexuality, feminism, and LGBT issues, presenting sex toys in a new, less clandestine light.

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