How lucky are we that the “artistic funhouse” (a.k.a. the SummerWorks Performance Gallery) is on for seven more nights (August 7–9, 13–16)? Yesterday, we took in the debut soirée at the atmospheric Gladstone Hotel, not knowing what to expect, and left agape at the stunning performances that are practically being given away for free (PWYC). On any given evening, as many as seven different five- to eight-minute shows are available for patrons to peruse at their leisure, taking place in the rooms (including the restroom) and hallways on the second floor. The doors to the balcony facing Queen Street are thrown open to the summer evening, letting the sounds of the city meld with the eclectic mix of performances that make up the Gallery. Below are some we particularly enjoyed.
Virtuosic Anthony Bergamin in Quietness.
We were overwhelmed by Anthony Bergamin‘s achingly beautiful voice and impossible vocal range as he breathed fire and emotion into the poem Quietness by 13th-century mystic poet Rumi. Accompanied by loud electronic music that alternates between fighting against his voice and and lifting it up, Bergamin sends shivers. Don’t miss this.
The last performance of Quietness is tonight.
NOISE COMPLAINTS/The Dance Party
NOISE COMPLAINTS/The Dance Party, hosted by Kaleb Robertson (Ms. Fluffy Souffle) and Ame Henderson.
Don’t be intimidated if you think your moves aren’t up to snuff. Gentle hostesses Ms. Fluffy Souffle and Ame Henderson will set you up with an iPod containing a pre-recorded dance lesson. She’ll start at the very beginning with toe taps and then progress on to step-touches and turns, all the while letting you learn at your own pace. If you run out of steam, there’s plenty of candy on hand to revive you.
The next performance of NOISE COMPLAINTS/The Dance Party is tonight.
My German Lollipop
Hannah Cheesman in My German Lollipop.
The stark black and white–tiled bathroom makes an eerie set for Hannah Cheesman’s powerful portrayal of a post-war German wife who is tormented by her relationship with her husband and ultimately herself. Cheesman’s lissome physique is frighteningly paired with a haunted countenance, creating mounting tension that threatens to break at any moment. Sinister music and creepy voices leak out of an old wooden radio, adding to the suspense. The audience is in the room with Cheesman with the door closed for the entirety of the show, giving the impression you’re not just watching—you’re in it.
The next performance of My German Lollipop is tonight.
Due to lack of sound-proofing in this charming old hotel, the louder performances take turns, making the schedule a bit tighter than expected (if you’d like to see everything on offer, go nice and early). The line-up changes almost daily, so you can go again and again and still see something new.
All photos by Ayngelina Brogan/Torontoist.