The combination of a strong lineup and good weather pushed SummerWorks attendance up to 12,000, a 26 per cent increase over last year.
This 14th annual festival, alas, was the final year for artistic producer Franco Boni, who deserves an award for boosting SummerWorks' profile and improving the quality of shows by bringing in a juried selection system.
Speaking of awards, this year's NOW Audience Choice Award went to the note-perfect production of The Arabian Night, one of the best blends of music and text we've seen in a while.
The SummerWorks Prize for best new play, awarded to The Unforgetting, gave the talented Belltower Theatre ensemble a slot in next year's fest.
The second annual Contra Guys Award, $1,000 donated by Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann, two of the festival's founders, went to playwright Judith Thompson for her unique take on a Tennyson poem, Enoch Arden On Sorauren.
This year's jury (Nina Aquino, Jorge Gidi and Mike McPhaden) inaugurated the Spotlight Award, a $250 prize presented to an individual or company for outstanding achievement. The first winner is d'bi.young, writer/performer of blood (claat).
Keep an eye out for NTS grad Thelon Oeming. Caught a workshop of his script Lullaby, directed by Mindy Parfitt, that revealed Oeming's remarkable gifts for dialogue and characterization.
Here's NOW's list of the best of SummerWorks:
OUTSTANDING NEW PLAYS Enoch Arden On Sorauren; Spain; Unbecoming
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTIONS Enoch Arden On Sorauren; Unbecoming; Spain; Fish Shack; The Arabian Night; Lysistrata
OTHER OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES d'bi.young (blood (claat)); Janet-Laine Green (Pillow Talk); Anita Majumdar (Fish Eyes); Brenda Kamino (Suicide Notes); Veronika Hurnik (The Happy Woman)
OTHER OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLES '37; The Unforgetting; Frances, Mathilda & Tea; Fly; Untitled; The Possibilities; The Memory Of Bombs; Descent
OUTSTANDING DESIGN Fish Shack; Fly; The Possibilities; The Memory Of Bombs; The Big Fight