Stage Door News

Toronto: SummerWorks announces July/August programming

Friday, July 17, 2020

As the summer of COVID-19 continues to signal new realities, and the ways in which arts organizations and artists can continue to make work and meet audiences are exposed, SummerWorks is pleased to announce programming and development plans for July through mid-August, as part of their expanded season of activity in 2020.  Mid-to-late summer programming will include the We Were, We Are, We Will Be - a new anthology of 10 commissions that consider our past, our present, and possible futures; artist Mark Reinhart brings Health & Safety Notes to Parkdale and Queen West; and introducing SummerWorks Lab Residencies, artistic residency reimagined for a time of physical distancing, supporting a cohort of over 20 artists developing new performance projects.

Curation emphasizes bringing a multiplicity of artistic voices, disciplines, and approaches together, while reinforcing SummerWorks firmly held values of creative risk and curiosity; diversity and difference; care and collaboration. Making all work as accessible as possible also remains a rigorous priority which continues to include all programming being free in 2020. Work offers different experiences of digital and urban space; and explores the concepts of transformation, responses to crisis, identity -- how it is experienced through the body, impacted by language and mediated through technology -- and the relationship between the real and unreal at a time when our lives have been moved online. At the center of SummerWorks programming as always is an inquiry into the possible: the possibilities of performance and possibilities for society as a whole.

The priority this year continues to be to remain grounded in our values and to be responsive to this moment,” says SummerWorks Artistic and Managing Director Laura Nanni. “What we’ve been hearing from artists is that they felt creatively charged by so many urgent conversations and calls for change in the world, but also feeling isolated and, in this time of physical distancing, not necessarily equipped to create in ways that they normally would. 

“Responding to this, this next round of programming strongly emphasises bringing artists together in collaboration. We also decided to expand the SummerWorks Lab as a place for research and development in the form of the Lab Residencies, where artists would be able explore creative curiosities and develop new work over a period of time, in this case from home, with opportunities to work through ideas with the SummerWorks team and other artists taking part. Building creative community and being adaptive to the needs of artists is such an essential part of what the Festival offers, and is something we wanted to lean into even more in this moment .” 

A centerpiece of the summer programming for 2020, SummerWorks is thrilled to partner with Canadian Stage again to co-present We Were, We Are, We Will Be.  Contemplating what performance can be in this time of crisis, We Are, We Were, We Will Be is an anthology of 10 artistic responses to our past, present and possible futures, through the lens of the pandemic.  Co-curated, co-directed and co-dramaturged by Daniele Bartolini (Dopolavoro Teatrale) and Luke Reece (Obsidian Theatre, Little Black Afro) – both SummerWorks alumni coming together for the first time - the anthology will unfold over the course of one week, beginning August 18th,s with digital and analogue projects that take audiences from their living rooms to hidden parts of the city for safe encounters with others. Each project is designed to be experienced on its own oras part of the larger anthology and will reflect a variety of disciplines and multiplicity of voices.  The anthology artists and projects will be announced, and tickets available to book on, July 30th.

Beginning July 27th, multidisciplinary artist Mark Reinhart will bring colour to public and private buildings in Parkdale and Queen West with large-scale inspirational and introspective duct tape graffiti messages, as part of his ongoing project, Health & Safety Notes. This will be the first project for 2020 in the new SummerWorks programming stream, Public Works, which formalises SummerWorks’ ongoing exploration of how artists and audiences experience public space.
Reinhart first began the project in his hometown of Chatham-Kent as an interventionist-based public art experiment. Its aim was to animate the thoughts, fears, anxieties, and opportunities being lived by a rural Ontario community as it experienced COVID-19, and the imagined future thereafter. A community centered initiative, Reinhart will work with SummerWorks, local residents, as well as arts and community organizations in the Parkdale/Queen West neighbourhood, including Artery, The Theatre Centre, Toronto Media Arts Centre (TMAC) and Workman Arts to create messages that make visible fears and aspirations of the area in this moment. Installations will be added continuously throughout the month of August. The progress of this project can be followed using a map on the SummerWorks website, via the SummerWorks Instagram, or by safely exploring the Parkdale and Queen West neighbourhood. In addition to bringing the project to Toronto for the first time, SummerWorks will also be presentingHealth & Safety Notes in multiple languages, expanding the accessibility of the project. 

Without the ability to congregate during our usual Festival time, our engagement with the Queen West and Parkdale neighbourhood is different this summer,” adds Nanni. “However it has been essential to us to stay connected with our community and to connect others with the work that we do. I’m thrilled that this project can help create dialogue, amplify voices, and make visible the creativity and imagination of the area through collaboration.”
In a new initiative responding to the unique demands of 2020, SummerWorks introduces SummerWorks LabResidencies. Through late July and mid-August, SummerWorks is bringing together over 20 artists from across the country for summer residencies undertaken in their homes, that support the research, development, and thinking through of new performance projects. These artists will receive financial, logistical, and curatorial support as they explore and expand their ideas.
Artists part of this the residency cohort include Neema Bickersteth (ON), Jaz Fairy-J (ON), Calla Hanratty (ON), Jessica Karuhanga (ON), Frances Koncan (MB), Kama La Mackerel (QC), Shira Leuchter (ON), Alexa Mardon (BC), Erika Mitsuhashi (BC), Philip Nozuka (ON), Gislina Patterson (MB), Liz Peterson (ON), Davis Plett (MB), Eshan Rafi (ON/Germany), Anand Rajaram (ON), Diana Reyes (ON), Khadijah Salawu (ON), Nikki Shaffeeullah (ON), Eric Woolfe (ON), Fan Wu (ON), and more.

In the spirit of the collaborative focus of all programming and initiatives, artists have been prompted to invite another artist to join them virtually in their residency, which is also supported through financial support by SummerWorks, with additional support from the Stratford Festival Lab. Cross-pollination between teams will also be encouraged where appropriate.
The residency will also involve Winchester Prize recipients Haley Dimeck and Maria Isabel Salgado working with mentor Denise Fujiwara, through a continuation of SummerWorks’ ongoing partnership with the School of Toronto Dance Theatre.  
Projects that would benefit from performances, artist talks, or sharing their creative process will offer public-facing activities between August 10th and 16th.  Details of public events and the focus of the residencies will be announced in the coming weeks.
Throughout the summer, SummerWorks artists, curators, and staff will be participating in workshops exploring the decolonizing of performance practice and accessibility practices - Talking Treaties in Tkaronto facilitated by Ange Loft and Accessing the Arts facilitated by Cara Eastcott - to inform the work and process.
Regarding safe gathering at in-person performances and public works this summer, for non-ticketed events like art installations, we ask that everyone enjoy these works in adherence to healthy and safety guidelines, which are outlined on the SummerWorks web site.  SummerWorks staff will be on-site to enforce these protocols at all ticketed events.

SummerWorks programming is kindly supported by Canada Council, Canadian Heritage, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council,  Lindy Green Charitable Family Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation, and TD Bank.

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