Invitations/Into/Traces (Cara Spooner) 2012 SummerWorks Review

“That was really great” are the first words Cara Spooner offered the slightly anxious group gathered in a Gladstone Hotel hallway for her show Invitations/Into/Traces, part of this year’s SummerWorks.

These are also the words I would use to describe how I left the show feeling – like I’d been a part of something that was, simply put, really great.

And I believe this sort of simple summation lends itself well to Cara’s vision. The show was theatrical and adventurous but it was never dramatic. My companion called the experience “comforting,” but with all the audience interaction this does not necessarily mean you will feel “comfortable.”

I’ll elaborate: Invitations/Into/Traces is as casually indefinable as its name. It’s part live art installation, part improv, part storytelling, part dance, and mostly experiment, with a dash of sensual-writhing-around thrown in. Cara is captivating to watch, but it isn’t all about her.

You will have to hug strangers and you will have to sit on the floor. You will be asked to “trust yourself” and “notice what you notice.” You will lend your own performative elements to the piece with your presence alone, and you won’t even feel too shy or silly about it.

This is where I find the show’s strength: Cara’s ability to create a safe space for sharing that nudges audience members a little out of their comfort cloister and makes them feel happy about it.

At least, that is how I felt. There was one female audience member who did have to keep ducking her bosom out of reach of Cara’s searching hands during a closed-eye sequence.

Even when hotel guests had to walk through the “stage” to get into the rooms they had rented, Cara remained confident and in control. She effortlessly weaved every variable thread into her performance.

This show was entertaining, fun, and intellectual, playing with notions of audience vs. performer and how we all choose various roles and patterns of behavior. I’m interested in seeing it again, partly to find out how choice will influence change next time, and partly to see what other peculiar/endearing behavior Cara will display.

  • Invitations/Into/Traces plays at The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. West)
  • Show times: Thur. August 9, 7:00 PM, Sun. August 12, 3:00 PM, Sat. August 18, 3:00 PM, Fri. August 10, 7:00 PM, Sun. August 12, 7:00 PM, Sat. August 18, 7:00 PM, Sat. August 11, 7:00 PM, Thur. August 16, 7:00 PM
  • All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) Mon. – Sun. 12PM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
  • Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows