10 artists to watch at SummerWorks 2019

As she showed in her Dora Award-winning work on School Girls Or, The African Mean Girls Play and the Fringe.


As she showed in her Dora Award-winning work on School Girls Or, The African Mean Girls Play and the Fringe hit Through The Bamboo earlier this year, Aquino is superb at directing large ensembles with multiple narratives. That should come in handy with rochdale, David Yees play about the legendary experiment in cooperative housing, alternative education and, of course, drug-taking.

The school (housed where the current Senator David A. Croll apartments now are) has inspired a documentary and another play 2006s uneven The Rochdale Project. But count on Governor Generals Award-winning Yee, Aquino and a groovy young group of actors to introduce a whole new generation to this era.

Opens August 8 at the Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre

Cardinal scored a big hit with Huff, his darkly funny 2015 solo show about Indigenous siblings struggling to cope with the death of their mother. The play won him Doras for best play and performance and enjoyed a nine-city tour and several remounts.

Now Cardinal reunites with Huffs director, Karin Randoja, for another solo show, Cliff Cardinals CBC Special. Full of folk songs and stories, the show seems set to add new layers to the idea of what it means to be Canadian (cant wait for the land acknowledgement). Expect some sharp satire and another riveting performance by the charismatic, intense Cardinal.

Opens August 11 at the Theatre Centre BMO Incubator

A Trillium Award-winning and Governor Generals Award-nominated author and the writer of nearly a dozen plays, Cayley has been spending a lot of time in libraries of late shes the 2018-2019 Mabel Pugh Taylor writer-in-residence for McMaster University and the Hamilton Public Library. She wants to share that experience with you, enhanced by Halifax immersive theatre company Zuppa Theatre.

First produced in 2017, The Archive Of Missing Things is a 90-minute audio adventure by Zuppa and Cayley thats being adapted for Torontos Sanderson Public Library (which recently hosted the audio-oriented show Scadding during the Fringe). Participants explore the library with headphones on, guided by a live performance happening discreetly around you. Halifaxs Xpress referenced Marcel Proust and the video game Myst in describing the show, which Cayley will no doubt have tweaked with some local flavour.

Opens August 13 at the Sanderson Library

The innovative Aussie performance artist Drake has been a fixture on the local scene ever since he moved here in 2011. Especially memorable is his unique and hard-hitting show with puppets, X, which won him the SummerWorks Professional Artist Award when it played here in 2013.

In his latest show, CHILD-ISH, Drake has compiled verbatim statements by children about love and dating. The twist? The words are performed by adults, including veteran actors Walter Borden, Zorana Sadiq and Maggie Huculak.

With direction by Alan Dilworth and movement direction by Monica Dottor, this show which is only getting three performances seems destined to be one of the festivals favourites. Get your tickets early.

Opens August 8 at the Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre

Classical ballet isnt just for thin, white girls though sometimes it can seem that way. Former Toronto Dance Theatre member and mixed-race performer Hector explores her own complicated history with the form in Black Ballerina, a mix of dance, storytelling and original music by Zarnoosh Bilimoria.

What does inclusiveness mean for a discipline based on technical achievement and the ability to fit in? And how does this idea play out in a larger society that claims to welcome all, yet shuts out so many? With an extensive background in performance and teaching, Hectors insights should be revealing. Seika Boye (curator of Its About Time: Dancing Black In Canada 1900 to 1970, part of last years Progress Festival) provides movement dramaturgy another plus.

Opens August 11 at the Theatre Centre BMO Incubator

Last at SummerWorks more than a decade ago with the silent-film-inspired Cowboys & Indians, this busy Dora-winning performer (Mustard), director (Woke N Broke), and writer (Scadding) is back with Rohinton Mistrys The Scream. Weve seen some preview images of the show, which adapts Mistrys short story of an old man suffering from dementia and paranoia at the end of his life (or is he?), and turns it into visual art as well as a stage show, in tableau as an oil painting. Its a visual style that evokes the work of VideoCabaret, whose groundbreaking history play cycle has featured Rajaram in several roles.

Hes also planning to launch a South Asian-focused theatre company in the near future, and this show, which draws on Mistrys youth growing up in India, may serve as a preview of that endeavour.

Opens August 10 at the Theatre Centre BMO Incubator

Responsible for some of the most memorable Second City sketches weve seen, Ross has great improv skills, an electric presence and frequently adopts a no-bullshit persona onstage. All of which should serve her well as Parking Enforcement Officer Rita Mae Nelson, who takes us on a literal walkabout tour of Parkdale streets in St. Peon Of Parkdale.

Ross debuted an earlier version of writer/director Caroline Azars solo play at Fringe 2018, and we gave it the full five Ns. Lets see what violations shell unveil in a different neighbourhood. Theyre sure to be full of satiric, socially conscious bite.

Opens August 9, starting at Toronto Media Arts Centre

Schmidt has one of the most distinctive voices in Toronto music: a husky and entrancing alto thats mesmerized fans of her bands The Highest Order, One Hundred Dollars and her solo project, Fiver. For Fivers 2017 album, Audible Songs From Rockwood, she used her voice, alongside her three years of detailed research, to give voice to women confined in the late 1800s in a Kingston Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Now Schmidt, with the assistance of red-hot director Frank Cox-OConnell (Fool For Love, Romeo And Juliet), has turned the album into a stage show. Alongside Carlie Howell and Laura Bates, shell tell stories about the women she researched and composite characters, and how the practice of jailing mentally ill people continues to dehumanize them, and us.

Opens August 10 at the Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre

There are lots of things to be anxious about these days, from climate change and right-wing extremists to the severing of the social safety net. Worry Warts, conceived and directed by Tepperman, should address many of them, and perhaps make you feel less alone.

The piece consists of two parts. In the first, you sit down with the artistic team for a 30-minute interview to discuss whats been worrying you in the second part, anonymous excerpts from those interviews are included in several performances.

Tepperman and Convergence Theatre have been behind some of the most innovative shows in the past dozen years, including The Gladstone Variations, Yichud and the recent Next Stage hit, Athabasca. No need to worry about this show being anything but revelatory.

Opens August 10 at the Toronto Media Arts Centre

Theres a lot at stake for the creative team of White Heat. For playwright Graham Isador (whom we profiled last year), this is his first produced play that isnt a solo storytelling show for Makambe Simamba, its her first adult role since she won two Doras in June in the Theatre for Young Audiences category for her solo show Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers And Little Brothers. And for Walker a journeyman actor whos been consistently galvanizing in indie productions of early Kat Sandler plays, in the title role in David Mamets Edmond, and most recently in the Dora-nominated Dry Land its an opportunity to prove that he belongs on the citys larger stages.

Walker has played some despicable characters and always found a way to humanize them, but hell have a challenge with this one hes portraying a white supremacist who posts death threats under the moniker The Captain.

Opens August 11 at Longboat Hall at the Great Hall

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