SummerWorks is shifting its umbrella, allowing exposure for theatre artists in a new way in its 12th season.
Last year, artistic producer Franco Boni began inviting companies into the previously lotteried festival, one that featured Toronto artists. He increased the number of invitees this year and began a jury process even for lotteried productions.
By next year, the entire festival will be selected by jury.
There's no question that Boni's own invitational process -- he admits that not everyone shares his taste -- and the jurying process raise the overall quality of the festival.
"SummerWorks is about the development of new work and giving artists the chance to present that work publicly," says Boni, who's also director of youth initiatives at Buddies in Bad Times.
"In contrast, I see the lotteried Fringe as an event. People go Fringing and catch some plays. They don't go SummerWorking -- that's not what we're about. But there's room in town for both types of festivals."
Boni wants fest artists to think about what they're presenting and to provide specific ideas. Applications ask companies to provide a developed proposal, not just a tba title and a one-line catchphrase.
This year Boni has invited shows that represent the Italian, Irish, Asian and Caribbean communities. Along with fledgling presenters, there's Modern Times' Soheil Parsa with a newly translated Persian play, off-site works by bluemouth inc and DNA Theatre, Threshold Theatre's adaptation of a Diane Schoemperlen book, and companies visiting from Victoria, Mexico City and Michigan.
A trio of young playwrights will participate in the second annual Summer Youth Reading Series, and Boni's again invited a high-school company from the Ontario Drama Festival.
"There's a need for a professional umbrella organization to provide space and resources for Toronto's small companies, artists who don't get a chance to produce on main stages."