I attended the SummerWorks Live Art presentation of Soliloquy in English with some trepidation. After having watched numerous plays this year that either exposed the colonialist history behind the spread of the English language or advocated for the inclusion of non-English languages in Canadian theatre, I wondered if we really needed a piece that explored “the dreams it [learning English] makes possible.” Fortunately, the insightful content of Soliloquy in English exceeded my expectations and encouraged me to examine my own feelings towards the English language.
Chase Scenes #1-58 is exactly the type of experimental, multidisciplinary performance that I expect and want to see at an innovative festival like SummerWorks. Thoughtful, funny, and a little bit strange, Chase Scenes – a should-see SummerWorks Special Presentation – is an extensive exploration of our psychological and cultural obsession with “the chase.”
In Utero Out, presented by Drawing With Knives experimental shadow puppetry co. as part of the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival, is a lush exploration of reproductive justice in the form of an exquisitely-crafted shadow puppet show. While I doubt my grasp of all the intricacies in this show, I was certainly moved by what I saw.
Playwright/performer Thea Fitz-James juggle the weighty tasks of exploring the importance of female nudity throughout western history and reflecting upon the relationship she has with her own body in the poignant one-woman show Naked Ladies, now playing at the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival.
Let’s Travel in Time, currently playing at the Fringe Club, is an unabashed parody of that special subsection in science fiction where an over-confident time traveler and his exasperated companion goes on adventures together throughout time and space. This production may be messy, irreverent, and ridiculous, but it is also one of the most hilarious experiences I’ve had at Fringe so far.
Monologues for Nobody, currently playing inside the Fringe Club at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is exactly as advertised: Participants have five minutes to perform a monologue of their choosing in the shed. Alone. As creator Jordan Mechano puts it in his description, “Like singing alone in the shower…No audience, no cameras, no pressure. Just play.” While it really was as simple as that, I didn’t expect to be so moved by the experience.
You Are (Not) Dead, a one-woman Shed Show about first loves, first heartbreaks, and mental illness, is currently playing inside the Fringe Club at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Performer/Director/Writer Katie Bell packs a lot into this 30-minute show, but her sensitive and heartfelt delivery of the difficult material shows a lot of promise.
Pulitzer-prize winning play comes to Toronto, presented by Soulpepper
The Heidi Chronicles, now playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, is a sweet, nostalgic rendering of an American woman’s personal, political, and cultural coming-of-age through through a twenty year period. The show follows the journey of the titular Heidi Holland as she constructs an identity alongside the momentous changes that came with the onset of second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution.
The Watah Theatre presents the second installment of The Orisha Trilogy in Toronto
Surprisingly, this is the first time I’ve attended a production from the internationally-celebrated Toronto-based dubpoet/playwright-monodramatist/arts-educator/theatre director/scholartist d’bi.young anitafrika. It turns out there was no need for me to worry about my high expectations because the performances from anitafrika and frequent collaborator, Amina Alfred, exceeded all of them. She Mami Wata & The Pussy WitchHunt is a profound exploration of the intersections between personal identity, sexuality, gender, religion, and the consequences of colonization.
HERstory Counts is a collection of seven autobiographical monologues that explores a range of issues from in vitro fertilization to mental health. Artistic Producer Jennifer Neales created the show in collaboration with a diverse group of female performers as a response to the lack of diversity from the creation level in film and theatre. We recently got the opportunity to ask Neales some questions about the production and representation in Canadian Theatre: