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.
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.