SummerWorks Festival: Theatre Preview

pictured: the National Theatre of the World cast

If you haven’t read Ricky’s preview of the music side of this year’s SummerWorks festival, I suggest you do so now. I’m of the opinion that SummerWorks really stepped up the music side of the festival this year with some great acts. With the music taken care of, and keeping in mind that all the plays at SummerWorks are largely new works and thus it’s nearly impossible to say whether or not they’ll be good with any great accuracy, here’s six SummerWorks shows that I personally guarantee confidently predict am totally guessing think will probably be worth seeing. Maybe. Click the show titles for the schedules and details.


If you’ve been following news about the Festival at all, you know that the Sun has printed three articles now expressing their distaste for Homegrown. Their problem? The play is about Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the “Toronto 18,” and as Don Peat so melodramatically puts it, “tax dollars from the very governments he’s convicted of plotting to blow up” went into this play in the form of grant money (Metro has a more balanced take here and SummerWorks has written about it extensively on their blog). I could write a whole post about this, but suffice to say that I’ve always thought the Sun newspaper chain sucks (Canwest rules!), and that I think tax money spent on arts sponsorships is money well spent. That aside, this sounds like it could be one hell of a good show. I mean, a play about a man who went to trial on bomb plot charges from the perspective of a lawyer, who “becomes obsessed with separating fact from hype in the face of the uncertainty, delays and secrecy in his case” (quote from the show listing) and it’s written by this lawyer herself? Sign me up. Get a seat in advance if you can, this is already in danger of selling out.

Iphigenia at Aulis

You may recall that I saw an adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, my favourite ancient myth, at SummerWorks last year, and that I didn’t really care for it. Why, then, would I set myself up for disappointment again by getting my hopes up for Iphigenia at Aulis, an adaptation of a work by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides? I dunno. I didn’t learn my lesson, I guess. It could be good though, right? Man, I hope so. I’d really love to see a good staging of an ancient Greek play. No seriously, I would. Stop snickering at me.

The WITCH of Edmonton

“In the tightly-knit community of Edmonton, Mother Sawyer is falsely branded as a witch. Rejected and shunned, she takes revenge by selling her soul to a demonic hellhound.” This is the promo text for this play. More interestingly, it’s venue is listed as Trinity Bellwoods Park. Spooky stories in the park? Sounds cool.

The Kreutzer Sonata

A staging of a Tolstoy novella underscored by the Beethoven sonata of the same name, which is where Tolstoy got the title. An interesting concept from the director/playwright/sole actor Ted Dykstra, to be sure, this show played to sold out houses at the Harbourfront Centre for both of it’s runs in March of 2009 and 2010. I’m not sure if the music will be live or not, but if it is, expect this to be quite good.

The Hanging of Francoise Laurent

Apparently, in 1751 in Montreal, a woman could escape a death sentence if she could convince the executioner to marry her, or so says the promo for The Hanging of Francoise Laurent. Did you know this? I couldn’t verify this as historical fact after two minutes of Google searching, but it sounds like a pretty good basis for dramatic theatre. Worth a look.

The National Theatre of the World Presents: Fiasco Playhouse!

In a slightly confusing entry, the National Theatre of the World (past show reviews here [2010 Fringe] and here [2009 SummerWorks]) is going to be at the SummerWorks “Performance Bar” every night from 9 PM until around midnight. You may recall that the Performance Bar is also where a number of the fest’s music acts are playing, including Maylee Todd, Ghost Bees, Laura Barrett, and Grand Analog. I truly have no idea how this is going to work, and the web page is no help, except to say that it’s apparently going to feature “the newest and most dangerous innovations in improvisation!” I do know that Ron Pederson, Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram put on a very good show, and that the music will be good, so that’s at least two reasons to check this out at least one night of the festival.

Keep an eye out throughout the festival, which runs August 5-15, for our reviews.

Posted on by Brian in Everything, Reviews, Summerworks