Drama Club: Cozying Up to SummerWorks
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Drama Club: Cozying Up to SummerWorks

Each week, Drama Club looks at Toronto’s theatre scene and tells you which shows are worth checking out.

Why so serious? Rabbit Rabbit tells SummerWorks that tricks aren’t for kids. Photo courtesy of SummerWorks.

Hello, Toronto! Drama Club has been taking it easy ever since a certain mid-July theatre festival, but we’re back in action to give you the scoop on SummerWorks, August’s indie answer to the Fringe. Some of you may remember how the festival got revamped and re-branded last year thanks to then-new Artistic Producer Michael Rubenfeld, who added such elements as a Music Series and a “Performance Gallery” at the Gladstone Hotel to the theatre festival, and also limited it to the Queen West strip. All this and more continues at the fest this year, and while we’re not entirely sure about this year’s roadkill visual motif (or the now annual tradition of sexist and kind of indulgent promotional videos), it’s exciting to see the festival grow and develop.
But, let’s get down to business: which plays should you go see? We’ve been hearing good buzz about Apricots, an Israeli-Palestinian comedy directed by bouffon aficionado Adam Lazarus. It also stars Torontoist faves Evan Webber and Melissa D’Agostino (aka Lupe!). We’re also kind of excited to see Carnival Knowledge from Faustwork Mask Theatre (check out their masks!). Dave Deveau, who wrote 2007 SummerWorks show Nelly Boy (soon to be remounted in Vancouver), has written and stars in My Funny Valentine, a show about the tragic death of Lawrence King.
We’ll be sure to catch The Art of Catching Pigeons by Torchlight, a site-specific piece based at Rolly’s Garage on Ossington by Suburban Beast, who created fratboy exploration Takes Two Men to Make a Brother at this year’s HATCH at Harbourfront. If you were a fan of last year’s festival, you might want to check out The Epic of Gilgamesh, written by If We Were Birds scribe Erin Shields, and starring Frank Cox-O’Connell, Lindsey Clark, and Ieva Lucs, or The Ecstasy of Mother Theresa, or Agnes Bojaxhui Superstar, the new work by The Pastor Phelps Project‘s Ecce Homo Theatre. But if you just want to see the craziest thing at the festival, why not check out Rabbit Rabbit? From their show description: “Larry, a paedophilic birthday clown, is on a ‘date’ with Britney, a sixteen year old prostitute. If Britney gets another shitty score from a client, her pimp will throw her out. Larry wants his usual girl, twelve-year-old Sabrina, but she’s busy. It is D-Day in this motel room.”
After the fold, we check out the rest of the fest with the help of our street team: Kaori Furue, Hamutal Dotan, and Nicole Villeneuve.

Nicole Villeneuve Scopes Out the Music Series

The Got to Get Got. Photo courtesy of SummerWorks.

In only its second year, the Music Series portion of the festival boasts a small-but-stacked line up of mostly well-established local and national (er, Montreal and Halifax) indie acts. If you can only see one show, well, close your eyes and point. Some highlights include Montreal’s Graham Van Pelt, who you can either see on Thursday with his dreamy psych-pop outfit Miracle Fortress (with Kwarka), or Friday with recent NXNE favourites Think About Life (with DD/MM/YYYY); Halifax shares their currently buzzed-about high-pedigree indie rock conglomerate The Got to Get Got on Saturday (with Oh No Forest Fires); on Sunday, Arts&Crafts and Blocks Recording Club host a benefit show for Sketch, an organization that helps engage and involve street youth in the arts, so it’s an extra-feel-good way to spend your cash (even if Still Life Still is playing); and if you aren’t done feeling really inspired, local smudge-pop smart guys Germans close the series on Saturday with the Great Bloomers. The all-ages Music Series shows take place Thursday–Sunday at 10 p.m. at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen Street West, at Dovercourt), and tickets and the full line-up are on the Summerworks website.

Hamutal Dotan Takes You on a SummerWalk

Byron Abalos and Lola Lita give a SummerWalk. Photo courtesy of SummerWorks.

SummerWorks stretches its legs (and gets out of the theatre, too!) with a program of walking tours which explore the neighbourhood that plays host to the festival. This weekend and next, five dollars and seventy-five minutes will get you a fresh new perspective on the nooks and crannies of Queen West—or rather, a choice of three different perspectives, one for each tour.
Love Letters to Queen West and Lola Lita focus on the street as experienced by its long-time residents, while A Length of Chain travels back to the 1790s and reimagines the surveying of the street, and allotment of property thereon, back before it had come and gone as the epicentre of boho/hipster/sell-out chic several times over. All walks begin at the Factory Theatre Courtyard, where tickets are also available for same-day-only purchase.

Kaori Furue Visits the Performance Gallery

Chiaroscuro (A Modern Diorama) at the Performance Gallery. Photo by Michael Melling.

The Performance Gallery, now in its second year, is the theatre goer’s answer to tapas. Instead of committing to reserving tickets for an hour-long production in a seated venue, guests of the Gallery can graze over several five- to eight-minute performances taking place in the rooms and hallways of the second floor of the Gladstone Hotel at any time between 7–9 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday during the festival. Each show cycles through multiple times throughout the evening so you’re never late. You can also leave when you like, pay what you can, and sip on a drink from the cash bar while you watch.
Among this year’s colourful-sounding productions are I Got My STD at Work!, a mandatory Sensitivity Training and Development workshop run by “management”; Loot Bag, a party complete with pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, magic shows, gooey cake, and party hats; and Noise Complaints/The Dance Party, a disco room hosted by Ms. Fluffy Souffle.