One of the best theatre festivals in recent years, SummerWorks 2006 had over a dozen hits. The festival marked its Sweet 16 with 46 shows presented between August 3 and 13.
Audiences responded to the quality of the fest, with attendance roughly 12,000.
Unlike the lotteried Fringe, SummerWorks is a juried festival. That accounts, in part, for the quality of the work on view.
One sour note, though. A key festival rule is that shows run a maximum of 55 minutes; it says so in the SummerWorks schedule. That doesn't mean BYOV shows can run longer, especially if there's nothing but a sandwich board announcing the fact just before the performance. It screws up an evening if someone's trying to see several shows in a row.
Prizes awarded on the festival's final day recognized some of the finest shows. The jury -- Anna Chatterton , Derrick Chua and Paul Lampert -- gave the sixth annual SummerWorks Prize for best new work to Hannah Moscovitch 's The Russian Play , presented by Company Theatre Crisis and Absit Omen .
Honourable mention went to 2b Theatre 's production of Invisible Atom , by Anthony Black .
The winner gets a free slot in next year's SummerWorks. But not, please, in the smallest of the venues; the show was sold out early in the day for almost every performance. If you missed The Russian Play in SummerWorks, you can catch it next winter as part of Harbourfront Centre 's Hatch series.
The Contra Guys Award , presented to the playwright for best new play and donated by Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann , two of the SummerWorks founders, went to Jacob Richmond for Legoland .
The jury gave the Spotlight Award , presented for outstanding achievement to an individual or company, to the ensemble for One Reed Theatre 's Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us . Tom Rooney , solo performer in Gina Wilkinson 's Whistle Me Home , won honourable mention.
The NOW Audience Choice Award went to Oops! , by John Feld .
Here's NOW's list of the best of the fest: OUTSTANDING NEW PLAYS: The Russian Play, The Eleventh David, Hip-Hop (Who Stole The Soul?), You Fancy Yourself
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTIONS: 4.48 Psychosis, Invisible Atom, The Russian Play, Legoland, The Eleventh David, You Fancy Yourself, Other Places, Go Forth And Multiply, Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES: Tom Rooney (Whistle Me Home), Tara Beagan (Eustache Wake), Maja Ardal (You Fancy Yourself), Mary Krohnert (Charters), Dinah Watts (Finish Line)
OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLES: Interrogation, Hip-Hop (Who Stole The Soul?), Ten Things, 4.48 Psychosis, You Like It, Go Forth And Multiply, Don't Wake Me, Other Places, The Eleventh David, Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us, Loyal-T
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION: Rick Roberts (4.48 Psychosis), Daniel Mroz (Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us), Nina Lee Aquino (People Power), Soheil Parsa (Interrogation), Natasha Mytnowych (The Russian Play), Tanja Jacobs (The Eleventh David), Mary Francis Moore (You Fancy Yourself), Matthew Deslippe, Rebecca Benson and Gordon Boland (Other Places)
OUTSTANDING DESIGN: Camellia Koo (People Power; The Russian Play, with Natasha Mytnowych; Charters, with Anna Treusch), James Cameron (Go Forth And Multiply), Ami Farrow (The Crossroads Of Fifth And Madison), Leigh Ann Vardy (lighting, Invisible Atom)