SummerWorks 2020: What to see & experience

Summer in Toronto is a lot quieter this year without all the buzz of festivals and events that would normally embrace our streets, venues and open spaces. It’s forced many to be postponed but for some, it means adjusting and reinventing for our COVID times. We’re still looking for ways to be inspired and to keep our creative minds pushing forward. SummerWorks is one festival that has persevered this year through a number of works and art installations. Presenting works with Canadian Stage, Outside the March, and other partners, here are a few program highlights you won’t want to miss happening this month…

We Were, We Are, We Will Be: by Daniele Bartolini & Luke Reece. (August 18 to 23) A multi-artist anthology is the centrepiece of the program. Unfolding this week, with both digital and analogue projects that take you from your living room to hidden parts of the city for safe encounters with others. Artists working across disciplines reflect upon our past, present and the possible futures we can shape together to create urgent, immediate responses to life in a pandemic and what performance can look like in this time of crisis. Each audience member is encouraged to choose how they experience the work based on interest and comfort level. Each project is designed to be experienced on its own or as a part of a larger anthology. Some of the artists involved include young anitafrika doing a dub poem online, Indigenous composer Melody McKiver is composing an audio scape for a walk through Tommy Thompson Park, dancer/choreographer Esie Mensah is doing a site-specific dance people for 10 socially distanced folks at a time, and 13-year-old wunderkind Eponine Lee is doing a site-specific piece that brings the community together through games. Families with kiddies check out Eponine’s “We Will Be: Rising as a Community” on August 23. Check the official site for specific details of all opportunities within this program including guidelines for in-person experiences.

We Were, We Are, We Will Be

Health & Safety Notes: by Mark Reinhardt (August) is putting up duct tape graffiti installations around West Queen West and Parkdale for the SW presentation of his project Health & Safety Notes – messages installed in colourful duct tape on exterior walls, collaborated on with community organizations and artists, that speak to the current moment. The installations will continue throughout the month of August. Where to look? Theatre Centre, TMAC, Workman Arts, and Band Gallery – and expect to see about 15+ more installed. They can also be located on Google maps.

Health and Safety Notes, Mark Reinhart

Metamorphosis: A Viral Trilogy: written by Giller-winner Andre Alexis (available August 24)  is a three-part audio drama in partnership w TO Live and Canadian Stage. The piece imagines a fictitious pandemic through the eyes of three women of varying ages.

Undertow: The Artist Mentoring Youth (AMY) Project 2020 (August 26 to 29) a collection of short films created by the participants based on their personal experiences of navigating life at multiple intersections. In collaboration with the AMY Film program and in response to COVID-19 restrictions the creators explore themes of self-growth, healing, and navigation. The AMY Project helps transform the arts landscape by providing accessible, affirming performing arts training & creation programs for women and non-binary youth from equity-seeking communities.

End of Summer Mix: Various artists. (available August 29) This curated collection of video, music, and other visuals is everything you’ll need to mark the end of this most unusual summer. Artists are being commissioned by SummerWorks to offer up a collection of activities, playlists, recipes, and crafts to be experienced on your own time.

For a complete list of installations, activations, performances and online programming visit the SummerWorks website.


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Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.