Stage Door News

Toronto: SummerWorks Festival 2022 returns August 4-14

Thursday, June 30, 2022

One of Canada’s most vital platforms for new performance and artistic development, SUMMERWORKS proudly returns to its 11-day Festival format, reimagined to include an extensive line-up of contemporary performance and large-scale installation works, participatory experiences, and celebratory community gatherings. The SUMMERWORKS FESTIVAL takes place August 4 – August 14, 2022, showcasing over 30 performance works and events, presented in 13 neighbourhoods across Toronto, as well as an extensive array of online and hybrid offerings.

In its 32nd year, and the final year for outgoing Artistic and Managing Director Laura Nanni, this year’s Festival will foster new connections and curiosity in a world that has long been disrupted, inviting audiences to reimagine and recalibrate their relationship with public space through art. A vast selection of performances and community meals will enable patrons to traverse Toronto with a fresh perspective, re-familiarize themselves with public space, and come together as a community. With concentrated pockets of programming spanning more locations than ever before.

SUMMERWORKS FESTIVAL offers a wide range of works and experiences that carefully consider accessibility and different audience comfort levels. The majority of the programming this year is focused on exploration and activation in public space, and will take place outdoors, and allow for physical distancing. SummerWorks has always found value in digital works, it fosters creative risk and experimentation. The organization is dedicated to embracing a hybrid standard for future artistic endeavours.

Cultivating space for exploration and innovation through theatre, dance, music, live art, interdisciplinary and hybrid forms, SUMMERWORKS FESTIVAL initiatives are split between four programming streams, offering audiences a dynamic choice in how they choose to engage with the work as a participant or spectator. Public Works are a offering of FREE performances and artworks that aim to bring artists and audiences together to experience public space in new ways. The Public Works stream was significantly expanded this year as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2022–2023, and aspects of these projects are currently available for audiences to engage with. SummerWorks Presentations include fully-developed new works, offering a snapshot of the future of contemporary performance. The SummerWorks Lab is a place for exploration, experimentation, and process, allowing the Festival to support projects at crucial stages of development and forge connections between artists and audiences. In the Lab, the audience experiences art at a critical juncture, and plays an essential role in the development of new work. Finally, the SummerWorks Exchange, encapsulating the Festival’s professional development and industry activities, will offer three days of community training and networking opportunities for artists, audiences and industry professionals.


This year, SUMMERWORKS FESTIVAL proudly features a wide-range of powerful projects that invite audiences to get to know Toronto and each other again, and re-envision everyday public spaces. In a new collaborative project by Canadian artist duo Mia + Eric and UK artist duo Action Hero, Future Perfect: New Bylaws for Civic Spaces, co-presented with the Bentway Conservancy, and part of ArtworxTO, brings together elements of game play, intervention, and poetics to re-examine our relationship to public space through reconfiguration of real Toronto City Bylaws; Bylaws are cut up word-by-word and rearranged into new rules for a transitioning world. Guided by a silent disco system, PARTYPEOPLE, created by STARLIGHT (Jordan Campbell) and Elizabeth Staples, invites guests to the faggiest, hottest, and strangest party in a public park. Switch Collective invite us to travel through streets and alleyways, tracing pathways and ecologies navigated by Queer, Trans, Poor, Mad, Racialized, Indigenous, (Im)migrant and displaced peoples of Parkdale in Switching Queen(s). Deep Gazing is an interdisciplinary performance project by Horizon Factory (Erin Hill and Nina Vroemen) that will take place on the shores of Toronto, visually playing with the horizon line as a backdrop to the images created by the performers.

It is difficult to speak about the last three years without discussing mental health; and this year's Festival features a number of timely works that reflect global encounters of fear, worry, concern and longing for connection. SUMMERWORKS FESTIVAL presents Strange Victory Performance with This Is the Story of a Child Ruled by Fear; a poetic fable about how to live with the slowly unfolding emergencies of a world, read aloud by the audience and solo performed by David Gagnon Walker. Created in collaboration with organizations and residents in multiple neighbourhoods of Toronto, Health & Safety Notes, another offering as part of ArtworxTO, is a participatory project by Mark Reinhart whereby colourful messages are written in duct tape on the sides of public and private buildings throughout the city; these temporary public art installations help people remember, be seen, and communicate their fears, wonderings, anxieties, and hopes in a COVID-19 reality.

Reflective of SUMMERWORKS ongoing commitment to creating space for diversity and difference, this year THE FESTIVAL will be presenting a variety of works encouraging learning and fostering empathy as a community. Bringing together Indigenous youth artists and their allies, Amy Hull and the Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence offers Circling Together, a youth-led gathering and performance evening, featuring music, dance, and storytelling. Playwright and performer Natasha Adiyana Morris (The Negroes Are Congregating) performs half n half, a punchy and honest solo work exploring women, love and toxic relationships through the infusion of live music, spoken word, comedy and audience participation. Set in a supernatural spa, Higher Hair performed by Hima Batavia and Nikola Steer (Coco Framboise), evokes an intimate and immersive experience that invites contemplation and connection of the ancestral stories held within a person’s hair. Written and directed by Syrus Marcus Ware (Antarctica and burn, burned), Does that Make Me Crazy? tells a story of a mixed race family over three decades, taking us on a journey to consider assumptions about race and racialization, through performance, puppetry and music. Ghosts Don’t Need Passports, is an immersive installation that is created for hearing and d/Deaf audiences; Teardrop Collective invites us into an immersive and interactive world of a Sri Lankan Tamil family living in Scarborough in 2010.


The Festival features a portion of relaxed performances specifically designed to welcome people who will benefit from a more relaxed performance environment. Personal service workers and service animals are welcome (with no additional admission fees required). All venues will have accessible entrances and washrooms; accessible seating will be identified in all venues and reserved for those who require it. All projects are subject to best practice guidelines for health and safety including evolving federal, provincial and municipal protocols to safeguard the public from COVID-19.


ArtworxTO: Toronto's Year of Public Art, 2021–2022 is a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, the City of Toronto is delivering major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto's diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for Torontonians to engage with art in their everyday lives. This year, explore your city and discover creativity and community–everywhere. Visit for full details.


SUMMERWORKS expands the possibilities of performance. SUMMERWORKS is a leader, collaborator, and community builder at the forefront of contemporary performance, asking crucial questions; nurturing artistic innovation; and presenting new works that reflect the complexity and diversity of our society. Anchored by our annual SummerWorks Performance Festival in August, SummerWorks offers a year-round program of creation, presentation, and learning opportunities for artists and audiences.


When: Thursday, August 4 – Sunday, August 14, 2022

Where: Various venues and public spaces in neighbourhoods all across Toronto, including indoor theatres, beaches, parks, alleyways and sidewalks.

Ticketing Information: Tickets on sale July 21, 2022.

FULL ticket, schedule, accessibility info & more location details coming July 21, 2022.