I just wrapped up my third year volunteering for the Summerworks Performance Festival.
(Sorry for the weird spacing in this post! I keep editing it with proper spacing, but WordPress doesn’t want to co-operate).
SummerWorks started 26 years ago as a theatre festival and has grown over the years into a “Performance Festival” that also presents music, dance, and live art.
If any of you are in Toronto this weekend, I would highly recommend going. It’s cheap ($15 a person or less) and what I saw so far was excellent.
Shows I recommend:
1) Naked Ladies by Thea Fitz-James. A one-woman show about female nakedness in art and performance as well as women’s body issues. Provocative, interesting, and brave (the performer is nude for much of the show and she incorporates a lot of deeply personal stories into it). The personal stories are nicely balanced with projected illustrations and dialogue about nudes in art and performance – artists like Yoko Ono and Josephine Baker are discussed, as well as Freud’s theories and scary old anatomical drawings of a woman’s reproductive organs (see here for a good example by Leonardo DaVinci).
2) Bleeders by d’bi.young anitafrika. This is described as a”Jamaican dub opera.” It is a futuristic fable about what happens after the Pickering Nuclear Plant explodes, told through music, with an all-Black cast. I got the feeling that this type of group storytelling is common in Jamaica so I was glad that I had the chance to see it in Toronto. The play speaks to a lot of modern issues, including our relationship to the environment and to each other. Highly recommended ! !
3) Mr. Shi and His Lover by Macau Experimental Theatre/Music Picnic is a modern retelling of the Madame Butterfly story. A Chinese diplomat falls in love with an opera singing spy and claims that he didn’t know that his lover was male (traditionally, female Chinese opera roles were performed by men). This is based on a true story that happened in the 1980s! Sung in Mandarin with English subtitles. All music is performed live. Simple, classy, and beautiful.
4) I’m Not Here by Composite Theatre Company. What happens to a person when their modern day-to-day life is deeply unfulfilling? Unique staging (in the round, in a small room, not a theatre) is what makes this show special. The costumes, set, props, and lighting are all a great example of how to do a lot with a little. The set is basically a dining room table with audience members seated around it. The main performer actually stands in an opening in the middle of the table (her dress becomes part of the tablecloth). The audience is served tea and cupcakes while the three performers act out the story and cue the music, lights, etc, often in unison. A familiar story told in an inventive way.
Summerworks has a total of 69 shows and continues throughout Sunday (August 14th).
Tickets can be bought in advance at http://summerworks.ca/2016/ or at the door beginning one hour before showtime. Summerworks reserves 25% of tickets for door sales, so if you arrive an hour or more before the show, you will definitely get a seat!
Show photos and information about the Festival were found at http://summerworks.ca/2016/