Review: Buzz Festival (Theatre Passe Muraille)

The Buzz Festival is a work-in-development festival that is presented 3 times a year by Theatre Passe Muraille. It showcases excerpts of new work from Toronto artists. The festival runs for 5 evenings and each evening there are 2 to 4 pieces performed as well as live music by different musicians each night.

The point of the festival is for artists to get feedback from the audience rather than developing the work in isolation. If you haven’t been to see work in development before, you might be wondering how it works.

The feedback happens in a number of ways; performing the work in front of an audience and getting a reaction, talking with audience members at the end of the evening, and asking the audience to answer questions.

Inside the programs are questionnaires – 3 or 4 questions about each piece written by the artists. After each presentation the musicians play while the audience has time to answer the questions. At then end of the performances you leave your questionnaire and the artists get your answers.

At the end of the evening the audience is invited to join the artists in the bar. It’s your chance to chat and ask questions.

The audience becomes part of the creative process.

I love these kinds of work in progress evenings, although the first time I went to something like this I found it a bit intimidating. Everyone seemed to know each other. I figured out that it’s because the performers’ friends and family come to see and support them. The performers definitely need people like me so that they get some unbiased feedback.

Tonight there were three presentations.

The evening opened with Bruce Hunter: The Man Behind The Miff. Kind of a one-man show with music. Hunter was the man and the music was provided by Thomas Given and Sean Fisher.

The next piece was Mekwon (or the other) written and performed by Rob Kempson. Rob performed selections from a solo show that he’s working on.

The final piece was Lex written by Lauren Spring. It was the first 25 minutes of a new play. Lauren was joined on stage by Amelia Sargisson, Thomas Gallezot, Amy Nostbakken, and Jesse Nerenberg.

I’m looking forward to following the progress of all three and seeing them in their finished state.


Buzz Festival is at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue) until Saturday November 5th
– Show starts at 7.30 and runs for approximately 2 hours with an intermission
– Tickets are PWYC donation and are available at the door