On Our Radar: SummerWorks 2021 highlights (FREE)

As our city inches ever so cautiously forward to opening we are more than eager to find ways to feel “normal” again. SummerWorks Festival continues to re-imagine ways for us to be inspired and to experience theatre in unexpected ways. This year’s program is in response to a year of disruption and prioritizing the needs of artists and audiences.

The 2021 program begins August 1 with free public facing activity on multiple platforms all month long. Every day will offer a way of discovering and encountering artists and their work either in person or through digital formats.

nowhen (August 5 to 15), created by Alison Wong, presented in partnership with Canadian Stage in collaboration with York University, as part of Dream in High Park — a two-part auditory and nature-based experience in the park featuring current Theatre at York Students. this presentation invites guests to “let go of time, and revel in place.” The first part sends patricians on an audio-guided journey through the park environment converging  on the audience in the amphitheatre for a live performance.

With a focus on supporting investigation into future possibilities for performance, this year’s Festival foregrounds SummerWorks Lab Residencies presented in association with the Stratford Festival Lab, supporting 2-4 projects in residency each week. Through the month, public sharings of projects in residency will be scheduled. Four residency projects are presented in partnership with leading immersive theatre company Outside the March’s TD Forward March Program as The Pop-Up Experience, which will see one residency project weekly popping up in a corner storefront laboratory on Bloor West, as well as at the Wildseed Centre for Activism and Art.

Throughout the month, people who pass by will be invited to watch and listen in on the work-in-progress — even engage and impact the creative process. Many of the pop-ups will also feature a live-streamed presentation of the work. Here are a few highlights that caught our attention…

Proof of Existence ~ Philip Nozuka (August 1 to 8) is a multimedia solo performance using his original music and audio commentary to respond to algorithmically suggested YouTube videos as a way to explore the practice of sharing and engaging with online digital content.

The Pop-Up Experience: Rainbow on Mars ~ Nate Bitton and Devon Healy (August 1 to 8) is a sensory reclamation of blindness encountered through the allegory of Plato’s Cave.This is a large scale, narrative-driven, physical piece depicting the journey both into and of blindness. Rainbow on Mars dramatizes the journey from our usual grip on eyes that are blind as flawed/damaged to experiencing the beauty in blindness. This show is one for the senses; it will ignite and stimulate audience members through the sensory rich language of sounds, smells, touch. The audience is invited into blindness making use of movement, sound and narration as a way to immerse audiences in blindness as opposed to simulating it.

Rainbow on Mars. Photo credit: Calin Ardeleanu

Connected As We Are ~ Sorrel Muggridge & Laura Nanni (August 9 to 15) are interdisciplinary artists who have been working with each other since summer 2006, often with an ocean between them—Sorrel in England, Laura in Canada. Their collaborative works deal with journeys, distance, and translation of space.Sorrel and Laura transform records of actions and experiences into installations that can be appreciated as maps, abstract forms, and narratives of the journeys. They also create artworks that connect audiences in separate locations sharing a journey at the same time. While moving through their different environments together, landscapes intertwine.

The Pop-Up Experience: The Children of the Bear ~ Todd Houseman (August 9 to 15) is the story of a young family growing up in a low income neighbourhood in central Alberta. The confined walls of the family’s living room quickly give way to a world of Knights andWizards—just like the video games into which the family regularly escape—creating an expansive free- ranging immersive parable. Audiences are invited to explore simultaneous storylines, making choices and discoveries as they unravel the kingdom’s complicated colonial history and lore. Throughout The Pop-Up Experience: The Children of the Bear Todd will be working in collaboration with co-conspirator and site-specific theatre veteran Louise Casemore, director Mitchell Cushman, Stratford Festival fight choreographer Anita Nittoly and a team of designers. Join them during this Lab Residency as they explore the aesthetic fantasy world that the larger project will exist within, and the mechanics behind the operation of the branching narrative.

LEGacy Circus ~ Vanessa Furlong and Erin Ball live in different provinces and have not been in the same space together since the end of 2019. They are used to creating in the same space, touching each other, moving together on the same aerial apparatus. Join them during their Lab Residency week as they explore their curiosities around technology and distance, to discover: can they find a way to create together while being apart?

LEGacy Circus. Photo credit: Grim Photography

Field of View ~ Freya Björg Olafson (August 16 to 22) addresses the impact of consumer technologies associated with XR. YouTube monologues provide the infrastructure for this work, recounting experiences with VR in live gameplay, open worlds, and 360 pornography; others explore consciousness through describing psychedelic drug trips, and outlining the how-to’s of lucid dreaming, out of body experiences and astral projection. These intentionally divergent monologues address technology, psychedelics, and metaphysical explorations as methods to expand the perception of reality, time, and space.

Softeness is a Blessing ~ Dainty Smith and Ravyn Wngz (August 16 to 22) is an exploration of softness as it pertains to lack femininity. It is an exploration of Black femme grief, rage and faith and hope, and about allowing for Black women to be fragile and soft in a world that demands of them and expects strength, sexuality and stoicism.

The Pop-Up Experience: Portal by Me Time (August 16 to 22) an immersive systems update for your human software. Using patented R.A.V.E. technology, tune your frequency to infinite love in just 11 minutes of solo embodied exploration. This is the latest innovation of The R.A.V.E. Institute, founded by techno-futurist Me Time in partnership with Outside the March to cultivate human potential and social change through ritual dance experiences. Join them in this opportunity to experience a customized, ritualized solo dance experience. Join the movement at www.theraveinstitute.com. Limited space availability.

burn, burned ~ Syrus Marcus Ware and Rodney Diverlus is a sensory and psychic exploration of the precise moment when the revolution is over. With systems and structures smouldered around them, activists and organizers pick up the pieces of their communities and of themselves and begin to figure out how to work and live together, anew. An aspect of burn, burned for SummerWorks Lab Residency, will be made visible – akin to smoke from a distant fire – closer to the event.

The Pop-Up Experience: A New Black Poet ~ Jordan Laffrenier is a love letter from the living to the dead. It centers Elijah, whose true interest lies in poetry and the way language can define the universe. Through a series of monologues and songs, Elijah takes us through a life dedicated to craft and the important lessons he learned from his heroes.

A New Black Poet ~ Jordan Laffrenier. Photo credit: Sandro Pehar

A virtual screening of a triptych of new dance films (August 28) choreographed by Toronto Dance Theatre’s Winchester Prize-winning emerging artists Charlotte Cain, Michael Rayson, and Kurumi Yoshimoto featuring students from the Toronto Dance Theatre.

  • Silent Fragments Underneath Silent Impurities ~ Michael Rayson was developed through digging deeper into numerous curiosities about psychological connections and solitude, all while asking larger questions. The work explores past experiences of shame, emotional suppression, and societal perceptions, while seeking to offer an opening for internal discussion and a potential shift of perception.
  • En ~ Kurumi Yoshimoto explores the intersection of two lives, two cultures, and two languages, connecting by chance to share time and energy. En is a further development of Awai(間). This film is inspired by the human experience, and the ways that fate and destiny connect us. En is a poetic exploration of the ways we can connect across barriers of distance, culture and language.
  • Where” is im from ~ Charlotte Cain explores spontaneity and impulse through movement. Recorded in separate segments at public locations, this film reimagines distance and connection with playful solitude.

So much more is happening at this year’s SummerWorks Festival! For a complete line up and schedule visit summerworks.ca


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