Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Preview: SummerWorks 2013

SummerWorks Performance Festival

August 8-18, 2013

An August tradition, SummerWorks returns once again with a diverse slate. The festival is carefully curated, but still casual and affordable. At its heart are the stage performances (about which, a bit more anon) but note that its name declares it to be a "Performance Festival", which opens up a lot of terrain.

Music Series

Admittedly, my "in" to the festival has always been the musical series, which has been presenting up-and-coming local bands for several years now. This year's incarnation, however, has become more focused than just putting bands on stages. Taking a cue from past successes like The Hidden Cameras' "dramatic retelling" of Origin: Orphan (in 2010) and last year's hip-hop/dance storytelling synthesis by Buck 65, this year's music shows all have "performance" elements that should make these unique, one-off events. Here's the ones I'm looking forward to, with some live samples to give you a hint of what you might be hearing:

  • Snowblink's Original Touch pairs the local experimental-folk duo with Toronto-based "scenographer" Trevor Schwellnus for what is promised as an interactive performance that will "conclude with a dimly and artfully-lit slow dance party". [Wednesday, August 14 at BLK BOX]
    listen! Snowblink - Listen and Profit
  • Young Drones starring The Bicycles is a new collaboration between writer Maggie MacDonald and director Stephanie Markowitz, who have teamed up previously for last year's workshopped Paper Laced With Gold. Here they're working on an ambitious one-off "top secret presentation of the latest in security enforcement technology", tackling the political/security equilibrium of drone warfare. The all-new score is being provided by The Bicycles, who will presumably be existentially drilling down even further than the grown-up applications for bubblegum pop they presented on this year's Stop Thinking So Much. They'll also be joined by John Southworth, who also showed a flair for narrative applications of pop forms on his surreal cabaret-operetta Easterween. Just like its subject, this project has been swathed in secrecy and may, um, sneak up on you and explode. [Thursday, August 15 at BLK BOX]
    listen! The Bicycles - Break This Hold
  • The Wooden Sky's Travelling Adventure Show definitely goes the furthest in breaking out of the bands-on-stages formula, taking band and audience alike on a moving musical journey down the streets and backlanes of the Queen and Ossington area. (This might be inspired by the band's demonstrated penchant for taking their encores beyond the walls of the venues they play in.) [Friday, August 16, convening at the The Lower Ossington Theatre]
    listen! The Wooden Sky - unknown
  • Maylee Todd's Musical Planetarium may be proof positive that our galaxy isn't big enough to contain the exuberance in Todd's music. The Great Hall's ceiling will be the starry canvas for "a kaleidoscope of visuals and live projection" by filmmaker Tess Girard. A bring-a-blanket-and-cuddle-up vibe is promised, yet somehow, I reckon there might be a chance of a dance party breaking out as well. [Saturday August 17 at The Great Hall]
    listen! Maylee Todd - Hieroglyphics

(And that's not even mentioning the Opening Night Party where drone-y pop cosmonauts Absolutely Free will be playing a "six-hour durational performance" — in five-minute instalments for one audience member at a time.)

Performance Bar

The festival has been turning its nightly after-parties into standalone art-events for a few years now, but this year's edition looks to have been turned up a couple notches as well. Henri Fabergé knows a thing or two about pulling off free-form musical spectaculars, so expect good times when the Lower Ossington Theatre's Cabaret Space is turned into Art Court, "a variety show set in a dark dystopian society" where artists have to plead their worth to the players of the Fabergé Fruits ensemble. The eight-night run promises "visual art, video content, sketch comedy, performance art and anything else that can be picked apart by these cruel Board Members", but expect to see a heap of excellent local musicians including Laura Barrett, Holiday Rambler, Castle If, Dr. Ew, Omhouse and Petra Glynt.

listen! Laura Barrett - The Humble Fawn
listen! Holiday Rambler - Dogwood
listen! Cell Memory & Castle If - Neuwellen
listen! Dr. Ew - Do As The Lord Tells Me
listen! Petra Glynt - Sour Paradise

Theatre & Live Art

Let's not forget the festival's meat and potatoes, either. After all, it is "the largest juried festival in Canada featuring predominantly New Canadian plays". I'm certainly no expert on this side of things, but you're more than welcome to follow my lead and just plunge in and try something out, whether it's a sci-fi musical or a choreographed investigation into "bodies shaped by weapons". There's also a selection of "Live Art" experiences, often intimate in scale, that range from "interrogation-based" to enigmatic to downright goofy.

Tickets & More info

You can find everything you need to know at the Festival website. Music series shows will set you back $15, as will single theatre tickets. (There's also a $40 3-pack option available.) You can get tickets online, and also grab tickets for Music Series events at Rotate This and Soundscapes.

No comments:

Post a Comment