Some Plays to See At SummerWorks 2013

It's hard to know what to expect at SummerWorks, but we can at least point out what shows we're excited about. Really excited about.

  • Multiple venues
  • August 8–18
  • FREE to $20

As with so many of Toronto’s arts festivals, every year SummerWorks seems to get bigger. Bigger as in more shows, bigger as in bigger names, bigger as in international reach, and bigger in terms of its importance in premiering exciting new work. Two major hits from last year’s festival, Iceland and Terminus, have since been seen on larger stages.

We’ve already gone over what we’re looking forward to in the SummerWorks Music Series, but here are our picks for the SummerWorks Theatre Series.

Tender Napalm
Phantasmagoria Collective, Toronto

Kyle Purcell and Amelia Sargisson in Tender Napalm  Photo by Kyle Purcell and Chloe Purcell

Kyle Purcell and Amelia Sargisson in Tender Napalm. Photo by Kyle Purcell and Chloe Purcell.

Thursday, August 8, 6 p.m.
Friday August 9, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday August 10, 1 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 6 p.m.
Thursday August 15, 3:30 p.m.
Friday August 16, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 1 p.m.

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)

Some synonyms for the word “phantasmagorical” are “dreamlike,” “kaleidoscopic,” “surreal,” “hallucinatory,” and “fantastical.” Because Tender Napalm comes from a company whose name takes inspiration from such a psychedelic term, it’s no wonder that the play is such a ride. By British playwright Phillip Ridley, this two-hander about a couple who imagine unreal adventures in order to deal with the pain of reality has received rave reviews from Australia, Off-Broadway, and the UK. Now, it’s getting its Canadian premiere courtesy of two promising local talents, real-life couple Kyle Purcell and Amelia Sargisson.

(Carly Maga)

Theatre Brouhaha, Toronto

The cast of Theatre Brouhaha's Delicacy  Photo by Zaiden

The cast of Theatre Brouhaha’s Delicacy. Photo by Zaiden.

Thursday August 8, 10 p.m.
Friday August 9, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday August 14, 7:30 p.m.
Friday August 16, 12 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 5 p.m.

Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue )

Kat Sandler and Theatre Brouhaha debuted Delicacy, Sandler’s “comedy of manners” about a fraught dinner party, last fall, and we were glad to see it then. At turns both witty and crass, it’s a 21st-century version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?—if the couples had met at Wicked rather than at a faculty mixer. This remount reunites the original cast: Andy Trithardt, Tennille Read, Kelly McCormack, and Kaleb Alexander, who also stars in Birdtown and Swanville’s remount of Family Story.

(Steve Fisher)

nanny: maroon warrior queen
anitafrika dub theatre, Toronto

d'bi young in nanny: maroon warrior queen. Photo courtesy of SummerWorks

d’bi.young in nanny: maroon warrior queen. Photo courtesy of SummerWorks.

Friday August 9, 5 p.m.
Saturday August 10, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 12 p.m.
Monday August 12, 5 p.m.
Thursday August 15, 7:30 p.m.
Friday August 16, 5 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 2:30 p.m.

Lower Ossington Studio (100 Ossington Avenue )

The acclaimed dub poet and fearless Jamaican-Canadian writer d’bi.young has just finished a global tour that has taken her everywhere from South Africa to Banff. She was promoting her album 333, as well as her trilogy of plays: 2005’s blood(claat): one oomaan story, 2009’s benu, and 2010’s word! sound! powah!. When d’bi.young arrives with something new, you take notice. This time, she’s using her signature monodrama, dub poetry, and biomyth styles to weave together two stories, one of a modern Jamaican woman named Efua, the other of the legendary Queen Nanny of the Maroons—which young calls Jamaica’s “only national shero.”

(Carly Maga)

How Can I Forget?
Sook-Yin Lee, Benjamin Kamino, and Adam Litovitz, Toronto

Friday August 9, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday August 10, 10 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 2:30 p.m.
Thursday August 15, 10 p.m.

Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)

As one of its artists-in-residence, Summerworks could not have chosen a more intriguing figure than Sook-Yin Lee. She’s been everything from a MuchMusic VJ, to a CBC Radio host, to the writer/director of the indie film Year of the Carnivore. As an actress, she’s performed graphic sex acts in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus and embodied Olivia Chow in the recent Jack Layton CBC biopic.

It should come as no surprise, then, that How Can I Forget? is yet another left turn. Initially developed at the Rhubarb Festival earlier this year, this surrealistic multimedia investigation of the concept of memory concerns two embryonic twins. It combines elements of video, dance, and prose. For Summerworks, the piece is being re-imagined with the assistance of co-director Erika Batdorf, who won the festival’s jury prize in 2007 with Bird’s Eye View.

(Kevin Scott)

Murderers Confess At Christmas Time
Outside The March, Toronto

Tony Nappo and Amy Keating co star in Murderers Confess At Christmastime  Detail of a photo by Keith Barker

Tony Nappo and Amy Keating co-star in Murderers Confess At Christmastime. Detail of a photo by Keith Barker.

Thursday August 8, 5 p.m.
Saturday August 10, 2:30 p.m.
Monday August 12, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 10 p.m.
Wednesday August 14, 5 p.m.
Friday August 16, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 12 p.m.

Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)

Outside the March has established itself as one of the city’s most exciting new companies because of its diverse selection of works by American and British playwrights. But at this festival, the company will be premiering a new play by Jason Chinn, the group’s first Canadian playwright. Heavy hitter Tony Nappo, recently memorable as a drug-addled NHLer in Sudden Death, joins a cast drawn from across Canada that includes Outside The March co-founder Amy Keating (Passion Play), Edmonton actress Candace Berlinguette (Ladies Who Lynch), and Shaw Festival veteran Harry Judge (The Game of Love and Chance).

(Steve Fisher)

To Myself at 28
The Cabaret Company, Toronto

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Sky Gilbert and his younger self, Spencer Charles Smith. Photo courtesy of The Cabaret Company.


Saturday August 10, 12 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 7:30 p.m.
Monday August 12, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 10 p.m.
Wednesday August 14, 10 p.m.
Friday August 16, 10 p.m.
Sunday August 18, 2:30 p.m.

Lower Ossington Studio (100 Ossington Avenue)

Having long been a fixture in the LGBT theatre community, playwright and director Sky Gilbert has never been one to shy away from provocative work. As co-founder and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, he cut his teeth on productions like Drag Queens In Outer Space before moving on to form The Cabaret Company in 1997. It would seem that his storied career has prepared him for his latest daring work.

In To Myself at 28, the 60-year-old Gilbert breaks the fourth wall by starring as himself, sharing the stage with relative newcomer Spencer Charles Smith’s portrayal of a younger incarnation of the playwright. After workshopping the show in a short run at Videofag in February, a more polished work should be on display here at Summerworks. Some may think it masochistic for Gilbert to paint his own portrait of the artist as a young (and older) man, but expect stimulating insight into how we develop into the people we ultimately become.

(Kevin Scott)

Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt, Berlin

Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt in Schützen  Image by Impulse Theater Biennale, from Flickr

Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt in Schützen. Image by Impulse Theater Biennale, from Flickr.

Wednesday, August 14, 7 p.m.
Thursday, August 15, 7 p.m.
Friday, August 16, 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 17, 2 p.m.

Scotiabank Studio Theatre (6 Noble Street)

The sight of a weapon, specifically a gun, has an immediate impact on the mind. But as Danish performance artist Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt discovered through research with military personnel in the United States, Israel, and Germany, firearms can have a tremendous impact on the body, as well. SummerWorks 2013 presents the North American premiere of her show about this very issue, Schützen (meaning both “one who shoots” and “to protect” in German)— a show that includes yoga and tai chi, as well as an imaginary shooting range. There will be only four performances, so be sure to catch one.

(Carly Maga)

The Art of Building a Bunker
or Paddling the Canoe of My Self Down the River of Inclusivity and Into the Ass of the World

QuipTake, Toronto

Adam Lazarus. Detail of a photo by Emma McIntyre.

Friday August 9, 2 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 9:30 p.m.
Monday August 12, 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 7 p.m.
Thursday August 15, 9:30 p.m.
Friday August 16, 2 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 4:30 p.m.

Scotiabank Studio Theatre (6 Noble Street)

It’s a pretty potent pairing of theatre creators. Adam Lazarus—actor, director, artistic director of the Festival of Clowns—co-writes and stars; Guillermo Verdecchia—actor, playwright, noted theatre thinker—co-writes and directs. Details on this one-man show about a week in the life of an “average joe” are scarce, though a Youtube preview hints that the two have mined online rants for inspiration. With Verdecchia’s penchant for pushing conceptual boundaries, and Lazarus’s love of testing comfort levels with bouffon-inspired characters, this could be the show everyone will be arguing about.

(Steve Fisher)

SummerWorks Performance Bar
Hosted by Fabergé Fruits, Toronto

Clockwise from top left: Juliann Wilding, Henri Fabergé, Kayla Lorette, and Alex Tindal of Fabergé Fruits. Image courtesy of SummerWorks.

Friday August 9, 9 p.m.
Saturday August 10, 9 p.m.
Sunday August 11, 9 p.m.
Tuesday August 13, 9 p.m.
Wednesday August 14, 9 p.m.
Thursday August 15, 9 p.m.
Friday August 16, 9 p.m.
Saturday August 17, 9 p.m.

Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)

This year, the ground floor of the Lower Ossington Theatre is being transformed into the SummerWorks Hub, where visitors will be able find an info booth, a box office, a bar in the theatre’s workshop space, and a patio in the parking lot. If that’s not enough reason to go there between shows, then take a look at the lineup at the Performance Bar, also located at The Hub: performance artist Henri Fabergé, of the Toronto supergroup Henri Fabergé and The Adorables and the recent musical Feint of Heart, is at the helm, and members of the collective Fabergé Fruits are hosting nightly performances that will blend comedy, song, and art. But this isn’t just any cabaret. Fabergé Fruits has created an arching narrative that sets its show in a dystopian future (common territory for anything in SummerWorks) where failure to please the audience could result in death. Luckily, the company has a huge variety of acts to help them keep the masses entertained, including musician and actor Nick Rose, sketch troupe Tony Ho, comedians Sara Hennessy and Catherine McCormick, TCQ (Toronto’s only all-female reggae band), John McCurley, Laura Barrett, and Dr. Ew (who can also be seen in the Music Series in Young Drones Starring the Bicycles). Plus, the bar is open until 2 a.m.

(Carly Maga)

CORRECTION: August 9, 2013, 12:10 PM This post originally misidentified Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt as a Dutch performance artist. In fact, she’s Danish.

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