Summerworks 2012 Preview

9 Aug

With the Fringe now a hazy beer soaked memory, it’s time for Summerworks to take the spotlight. Unlike the Fringe, Toronto’s other major summer theatre and arts festival (opening tonight) offers a smaller and jury-selected slate of productions which often means the overall quality is markedly less hit and miss – even if it does lack some of the hedonistic “anything-goes” quality of the Fringe.

In addition to conventional theatre productions from a mix of established artists and promising up-and-comers from across the country, Summerworks also offers an impressive concert series featuring performers such as Hawksley Workman and Buck 65. As if that wasn’t enough to satiate even the most gluttonous culture-consumer, the festival also offers an impressive swath of performance art, and cabaret performances.

Instead of playing Nostradamus and trying to predict what will and won’t be worth seeing before the first bum has even warmed the first seat, we wanted to let participating artists speak for themselves via a questionnaire about their shows and thoughts on the festival experience. Here are their answers!

 


 

Les Demimondes

Your Name:
Alex Tigchelaar

Your Role:
Writer/cast member

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
When given the opportunity to comment on (mis)representations of themselves throughout the history of art and media, what does culture about sex work by non sex workers look like through the eyes of sex workers and their allies? See past the moral panics, the conflation with trafficking and the strident misapprehension into a world where we reflect with cleverness and comedy (and some shit-kicking dance numbers) on our own truths.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
You can lead a whore
To culture but you can’t make
Her think. That’s bullshit.

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Seeing as many shows as I possibly can and immersing myself in the wonderful bubble of Summerworks—the parties, musical events and art performances are peerless and cap off the summer so nicely.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Lack of funds and a city that likes to trumpet its creative significance on the world stage without supporting its local artists. Also, Richard Florida and his bullshit Creative City theories.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
I don’t wish to engage in any more controversy than I already have but I will say that I have heard rumours that Michael Rubenfeld is banging Sunny the mascot.

 

 


 

Lies, Damn Lies & Magic Tricks

Your Name:
James Alan

Your Role:
Writer, cast member, chief liar

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
Pushing the limits of what’s real and what’s fake, Lies seamlessly blends fact, fiction and outright deception to make you wonder what’s real and what’s not. All of the stories are true, except for the bits we made up. All of the magic is real, depending on your definition of real.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Things said honestly
Made indistinguishable
From total rubbish

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Performing in an air conditioned theatre! (Some of the stuff at the performance bar looks pretty boss too.)

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
The terrible misconception that many people have seemed to have developed that in order to be art, it needs to be very serious – or worse yet dark. Not enough realize that things that are humorous or uplifting can also be profound.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
I already made my prediction for the year: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/764028–magician-correctly-predicts-spec-s-front-page

 

 


 

Breathe For Me

Your Name:
Jesse Stong

Your Role:
Writer and Producer

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
For fifty years Edna and Edith have shared their toronto home. On this day in late fall a queer idea is put on the table and secrets from the past are exposed, challenging their lifelong friendship. A finely aged comedic drama, two-hander.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Late fall in our home
Two old hearts breathe our secrets
From the dark closet

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Alistair Newton’s play, The AMY Project, The Medicine Man, music series, parties and sleeping after.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
[No answer given]

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
[No answer given]

 

 


 

A Song for Tomorrow

Your Name:
Gein Wong

Your Role:
Director and Sound/Projection Designer

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
It looks at the entire life span of an immigrant couple who would never talk about their lives if you met them in real life.   Also awesome about the show is that it moves in reverse time.  It’s Memento’s reverse world meets Raymond Carver’s minimalist text.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
May stands with a pic
She walks off never looking
He lies on the floor

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
There’s so many good shows this year with so little time – I’m in preproduction for Eventual Ashes‘ next show Hiding Words (for you) at Enwave Theatre in September, but I’m still going to  make time to see as many things as possible, including Aneemah’s Spot, Medicine Boy, Marine Life, Dutchman, to name a few.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Having the general public realize how talented we are.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
If I knew what would make the headlines, I’d already be jumping in and doing it!  Well, maybe I would make my fellow producer, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard do it!

 

 


 

Facts

Your Name:
Dan Daley

Your Role:
Producer

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
Inspired by a true story, this profound murder mystery adeptly navigates the social and political territory as two detectives, one Palestinian, the other Israeli, work together to solve an intricate case. Their only remaining suspect, an Israeli settler, proves to be highly illusive: he’s guilty of something, but of what? In “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” fashion the duo debates over issues of religion, politics and law before finding a mutual distaste for their captive suspect.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Political cops
tackle murder mystery
West Bank scenery

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
The music series at the Theatre Centre. It’s an excellent showcase of Canadian talent and this year it has been designed by some great artists.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Keeping the work accessible and public. Too often we get entrapped in our circle of fellow artists and we forget that we’re making work for an audience, an audience made up of a diverse community. If we fail to capture their attention, then we aren’t doing our job, even if the attention we get is negative, at least people, other than our colleagues, care about it. 

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
Facts will make headlines this year because its non-apologetic dialogue tackles issues of politics and racism in a part of the world that continues to exist as one of the most contested places to live. Palestinian sympathizers will see this play and have a much different experience than Israeli supporters and that is a conversation this play will generate.

 



 

Petrichor

Your Name:
Erin Brandenburg

Your Role:
Writer, director, producer

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
Petrichor: (meaning) The smell of rain on dry ground.  A play with music about a family of migrant workers who are Mennonites from Mexico on a vegetable farm in Southern Ontario.  Told with a live band playing instruments made from farm machinery and original music by acclaimed musicians  Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players) and Henry Adam Svec.  A play about hope and land, love and loss and how you find love hoeing a row of tomatoes.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Hoeing tomatoes
Smell of the rain on dry ground
Can stop a work day

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
So many great shows!  Lots at the music series, hanging out and having a beer.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Right now my biggest issue is trying to figure out rehearsing a show and breastfeeding at the same time.  (Mother of a 4 month old)  But it’s always a question of resources isn’t it?  Finding them, sharing them.  Giving opportunities to those who need them.  But i also think we need to look outside our own little world of theatre and try to connect to the larger experience of being human.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
Hmm – most successful festival ever?  High quality of work and artists draws record high numbers?

 

 


 

The Frenzy of Queen Maeve

Your Name:
Anthony MacMahon

Your Role:
Writer/Director

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
Winner of the 2012 Ottawa Little Theatre Playwriting competition, The Frenzy of Queen Maeve follows Aisling, a young woman growing up in Northern Ireland during the troubles. She falls in love with an IRA officer and a British landowner and must decide what she values more: her country or her safety.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Bombs over Belfast
A deadly love triangle
The hardest choices

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Terminus, Barrel Crank, FRANCE, or the Niqab.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Visibility.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
I find controversy to be as unpredictable as the winds, but I would say it’s a toss up between “The Hearing of Jeremy Hinzman” (another must see) and the hiring of Sunny, the SummerWorks mascot. He’s a trickster.

 



 

When it Rains

Your Name:
Anthony Black

Your Role:
Writer/Director

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
A live-action existential graphic novel. Kind of a job story for atheists. When two couples are beset with misfortune, communication fractures, relationships crumble. Lit with a projector and staged in a very planar way, making for a theatre-in low-relief design.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Communication fractures
Behaviour is surprising
These silly humans

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Shows by Anton Piatigorsky, Rosa Laborde, and a bunch of others. Meeting new people.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Getting onto the mainstages of our larger institutions.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
I like keeping the drama onstage.




 

Haunted

Your Name:
Amelia Sargisson

Your Role:
Cast Member

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
We’re all haunted inasmuch as we all have a past which shapes our present reality and informs our current relationships. Whether we’ve endured hardship or inflicted it, or passed with relative ease through the years, we cannot deny the fears and expectations we have accumulated. I think Daniel Karasik’s play asks: can we love in spite of (or given) that? And where – if anywhere – can we turn for help in overcoming that which haunts us?

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Wounded hearts crave love
Embracing unknown frontiers
Yearning for solace

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
Seeing droves of people line up for the theatre! Warms the heart!

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
The dearth of money, resources, space, time, and audiences, as well as professional legislation that is no longer tenable given the way we make art. Many of these problems are systemic – the way we dole out and are made to ask for funding, for example.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
I don’t much know what the shows are about so I can’t predict what will be incendiary or ‘newsworthy;’ all’s I know is that a lot of artists I admire are involved in this year’s line-up, so I’ll wager that their offerings will whet appetites and stir passions and ignite debate and spark controversy and impel change and do all the things that fearless and committed story-telling is supposed to do.



 

Blood Ties

Your Name:
Anika Johnson

Your Role:
Co-writer (music, book, lyrics)

Tell me about your Summerworks show:
Blood Ties is a dark musical comedy based on a true story. Sheila’s uncle Conrad kills himself on the eve of her wedding, and she and her three best friends are left with the task of cleaning up the mess left behind – a mess that is soon revealed to extend far beyond the blood splattered on the floor.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:
Sheila’s getting hitched
Over Conrad’s dead body.
Bloody weddings, eh?

What else are you looking forward to at Summerworks?
‘Through the Gates’ by Scott Christian and Daniel Cummings is the other show being produced by Musical Works in Concert – talented writers and a fantastic cast.  It’s great that Summerworks supports the development of new Canadian musical theatre.

I think the biggest challenge or issue facing independent theatre artists today is…
Old paradigms.

In past years, Summerworks has generated some wonderful controversy (Pastor Phelps, Homegrown, etc). What do you predict will make headlines this year?
Maybe Rob Ford will come to a show? Nah, not going to happen. But it would be worthy of a headline.

 

No comments yet

Leave a Reply