the root of the river flows darker than clouds (lo bil) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Photo of the root of the river flows darker than clouds from the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival

the root of the river flows darker than clouds is an experimental SummerWorks live art “performance residency” that explores what it means to be “wild.” Creator lo bil invites her audience to help build a multidisciplinary performance stimulated by her immediate environment.

Throughout the root of the river, lo bil is interested in both exploring the meaning of “wild” and the art that is produced from a wild creative process. The content of her performance is created on the spot and inspired by bil’s personal response to her present environment and audience. Consequently, the structure of the piece is liable to change every performance. We begin when bil feels it is time to begin.

In the performance I attended, we fluctuated between watching bil perform raw movement or spoken word and participating in the process ourselves. We were touched gently, given various props to play with, and asked curt but probing questions that sometimes inspired her into performing. The mood of the show was kept very relaxed as we were free to come and go and take photos.

I quite enjoyed the experience but I can understand how it might not be to everyone’s taste. I’m a performer so I usually welcome any and all participatory activities and relished having the opportunity to peek into bil’s artistic experimentation. She wasn’t afraid to speak candidly about her experiences and looked absolutely at ease with her movements. It was also very comfortable to interact with the good-humoured lo bil and she made me feel like I was in the presence of a close friend.

That is not to say that there weren’t a few slow moments but bil remained so completely present and engaged with her audience that I found it fascinating even when she had to mop up in the middle of the performance (admittedly my own fault for not throwing a bucket of water correctly).

Although the root of the river flows darker than clouds might not be comfortable for everyone, I would definitely encourage more adventurous audiences to experience this whimsical venture into artistic wilderness.


the root of the river flows darker than clouds plays at The Artscape Youngplace Studio 107 (180 Shaw Street).

Show times:

  • Friday August 12th, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Saturday August 13th, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted. (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee.)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.

Warnings: Audience Participation, Possibility of Nudity or Coarse Language.

Image provided by SummerWorks.

One thought on “the root of the river flows darker than clouds (lo bil) 2016 SummerWorks Review”

  1. thank you for your adventurous spirit in attending my SW piece, Angela. i enjoyed having you there that first (nervoussss) night… wishing you well in all your endeavours!

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