Stage Door News

Toronto: SummerWorks announces the 2023 festival

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

As an organization at the forefront of contemporary performance, SUMMERWORKS is thrilled to announce a passionately curated selection of artists and creative collaborators as part of the 33rd SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL. Celebrating through diversity and intimacy, SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL will feature an eclectic mix of programming in a multitude of formats, including theatre, dance, and sound/music performances, sensorial experiences, site-responsive activations, and community gatherings. The Festival is presented in both the East and West ends of Toronto at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum, and The Theatre Centre from August 3-August 13, 2023.

In addition, earlier this year, SUMMERWORKS announced its newly appointed co-leadership. SUMMERWORKS is now co-led by Michael Caldwell as Artistic Director and Morgan Norwich as Managing Director: “With the announcement of our first Festival as co-leaders at SummerWorks, we are delighted for audiences to encounter this dynamic blend of performances, experimentations, installations, workshops, and community engagements, and further thrilled to host our Festival events and activities in indoor venues and outdoor spaces in both ends of the city. There’s a sensation that’s palpable; there’s a spark that ignites when we share space in intimacy and in proximity with one another. Whether it’s in the theatre, at the Market, or on the dance floor, we look forward to sharing space with you at SummerWorks in August.”

Cultivating space for exploration and innovation through theatre, dance, music, live art, interdisciplinary and hybrid forms, SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL initiatives are split into four programming streams, offering audiences a dynamic choice in how they choose to engage with the work, as a participant or spectator. SummerWorks Presentations include fully-developed new works, giving us a snapshot of the future of contemporary performance. 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. SummerWorks Public Works are free performances and artworks that aim to bring artists and audiences together to experience public space in new ways. Finally, the SummerWorks Exchange, encapsulating the Festival’s professional development and industry activities, offers community workshops, facilitated discussions, mentorship, and networking opportunities for artists, audiences, and industry professionals.


Unique to this year, SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL is collaboratively curated by six guest curators - Sue Balint, Ralph Escamillan, Aria Evans, Jiv Parasram, ted witzel, and Alison Wong.

This year’s SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL proudly features a wide range of artistic programming that invites audiences to gather together to create new connections with one another and experience the palpable joys of intimacy, ephemerality, and community.

SummerWorks Presentations features three unique performances from artists working across Canada and around the world.

Two of these performances deconstruct and modernise Shakespearean texts, giving audiences the opportunity to experience this theatrical canon in an entirely new framework.

Lady M, created and directed by Glasgow-based Ramesh Meyyappan, is the premiere production of Toronto’s 1s1 Theatre, a Deaf-led theatre company founded by Dawn Jani Birley. A uniquely visual and physical work, this Deaf-led adaptation of Macbeth explores this famous power couple with an intersectional experience for both Deaf and hearing audiences.

Beginning as a performance lecture and critical analysis, i am your spaniel, or, A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson deconstructs into a kaleidoscope of projected dog and Iggy Pop videos, thunderous music, identity and species-swapping monologues, and object puppetry. Winnipeg-based artists, Gislina Patterson and Dasha Plett (We Quit Theatre) return to the Festival with this boundary-pushing and genre-bending work about transformation, desire, and what it means to be a man.

In The Seventh Fire, Vancouver-based creator Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen draws from Anishinaabe stories and oral traditions to create an immersive audio performance inspired by Indigenous ceremony. Audiences are invited to lie down, sit or move around as the artists invoke sound and story as a somatic link to ancestral realms.

Dancing through curiosity, risk, and innovation, the SummerWorks Lab invites us to immerse in the creative process and engage in conversation. This year’s SummerWorks Lab programming centres dance and movement-based practices in relation to story, sound, design, fashion, language, and contemporary culture.

A surreal dance-theatre journey, Sharon Moore, Lilia Leon, and Irma Villafuerte share work-in-process excerpts from DOUBLE, a female-led collaboration following two explorers in their quest to understand their own existence.

A first-time meeting and collaboration, Ballroom artists Matthew ‘Snoopy’ Cuff (Toronto), ivy hazard (Vancouver), and Chéline Lacroix (Montréal) explore their divergent yet complimentary creative practices in Ballroom, Too.

At the intersection of music, video, and performance, R. Flex and Driftnote experiment with relationality, and explore liveness and radical presence.

Emerging dance creators, Kt Ayer and Ellen Moore each present newly-developed works that explore intimacy, tension, and sensation.

Under the banner of Summerworks Public Works, artist, scholar, and vegan chef, Aisha Lesley Bentham invites us into the world of TERRAFORM, a two-part performance installation that explores the methods and practices of preservation. Small groups of audience members are treated to an intimate two-course mise en bouche tasting.

Activated in select Farmer’s Markets across the city of Toronto, audiences of all abilities are called into The Lettuce Head Experience. Alyssa Martin (Rock Botttom Movement) dives into her non-dancer movement practice to teach an outdoor workshop, with live music by Jacob Vanderham aka Telehorn.

And returning to the Festival, Switch Collective brings forward their innovative creation and performance methodology to activate community-engaged spaces in the Parkdale and Regent Park neighbourhoods.

SummerWorks Exchange is excited to feature a variety of community and industry activities that expand the possibilities of performance and encourage conversation.

This year, Graham Isador returns to the Festival once again, to deliver a staged play reading of Truck, a retirement speech for the last truck driver in America, as a result of automation, with Adam Lazarus and Tim Walker.

With various workshop opportunities, facilitated discussions, and more, SUMMERWORKS PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL is proud to feature initiatives that expand professional and community development.




A summertime evening of diverse artistic encounters, kicking off the Festival on Thursday, August 3rd.



A lively and celebratory evening and dance and music, on Saturday, August 12th.