SummerWorks 2019 wrap-up: experimental performance is alive and well

Rohinton Mistry's The Scream wins production award, Encumbrance wins NOW Audience Choice Award at performance festival


The 29th edition of SummerWorks finished on the weekend with attendance increases and lots of sold-out shows, proving that there’s a loyal, devoted audience for thought-provoking, innovative performance works.

If there’s a drawback to the festival, it’s that many shows – including some of this year’s award winners – only had one or two performances, making it hard to build momentum or spread word about a must-see show. 

That was the case with the winner of this year’s NOW Audience Choice Award, Johannes Zits’s Encumbrance, which had a mere two performances in the fest’s first days. (Honourable mention went to S. Bear Bergman’s Gender Reveal Party.)

Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream, adapted, directed and produced by star Anand Rajaram, won best production.

Rodney Diverlus won best direction for burn, burned. Honourable mention went to Jenn Goodwin in collaboration with Sarah Doucet for CLOSER.

Celia Jade Green won the emerging artist award for Wah Wah Wah. Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton received honourable mention for Safe And Sorry.

The Jon Kaplan Spotlight Award for a featured performer in a SummerWorks show was Cliff Cardinal for Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special. Honourable mention was Jamillah Ross for St. Peon Of Parkdale.

The award for research and development went to Syreeta Hector for her show, Black Ballerina. The honourable mention went to Follow the Signs Theatre’s Deafy

The Contra Guys award for new performance text went to Graham Isador for White Heat. Honourable mention went to James Long and Andrea Spreafico for Footnote Number 12

And finally, the award for risk and innovation went to Davis Plett and Gislina Patterson for 805-4821. The team behind The Archive Of Missing Things received honourable mention. 

Here’s NOW’s annual list of the best of the fest: 

Outstanding plays

Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special rochdale Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream

Outstanding productions 

The Archive Of Missing Things Black Ballerina Bonjour Hi Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special rochdale Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream Wah Wah Wah

Outstanding performances 

Cliff Cardinal, Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special Chris Dodd, Deafy Syreeta Hector, Black Ballerina Tim Walker, White Heat Anand Rajaram, Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream Jamillah Ross, St. Peon Of Parkdale

Outstanding ensembles 

The Archive Of Missing Things Bonjour Hi CHILD-ISH rochdale

Outstanding direction 

Nina Lee Aquino (rochdale) Bilal Baig, Wah Wah Wah Anand Rajaram (Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream) Karin Randoja (Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special)

Outstanding design 

Bonjour Hi rochdale Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream Worry Warts

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