With the brilliance of summer ambiance filling the city, the 2014 SummerWorks Performance Festival kicked off with a unique and remarkable launch party at Toronto’s Campbell House. Over 10 artists converged on the grounds this historical residence, bringing together a night of beguiling performance art in support of the festival.
On June 6th, the party began outside The Campbell House with the heart-pounding beats by Maracatu You!, an Afro Brazilian percussion ensemble of Maractu Baque de Bamba. The energy from the band filled the crowd while they selected from a bevy of barbeque picks from Fidel Gastro, and a range of Barefoot wines and Mill Street beers.
The staff at Fidel Gastro prepared the dishes on site with a barbeque to serve up a delectable assortment of sliders, pork belly tostadas, and my personal favourite, grilled corn on the cob (AKA BBQ Street Corn).
As we took in the splendor of an early summer evening, the night’s performance continued with the seductive voice of Regina of Light Fires, as well as a fun and quirky dance rendition by artist Benjamin Kamino and friends. As an abstract dancer and choreographer, Ben conjured a dance routine where his moves would change according to the mood of the music; other performers happily joined him. The audience is also able change the music, thereby controlling and contributing to the performance.
The party also included a live auction, led by professional auctioneer Don Lee. His wild motor-mouth command drove spectators to take home exclusive prizes such as a private catered dinner by The Food Dudes.
The highlight of the night belonged to Suits’ Patrick J. Adams, and his powerful and moving narration of an excerpt from a new piece by Ukrainian playwright Natalya Vorozhbit. Titled We want to build a new and just society, the play is about the violent outbreak and the massacre of protesters around Independence Square in Kiev, amidst the civil unrest that began with president Yanukovych’s impeachment late last year. Natalya spent months extensively documenting the incidents and interviewing many of the survivors. Patrick remarked that the remote collaboration over Skype with Vorozhbit for the play wasn’t easy, but the challenge was worth it to bring forth such a relevant piece of theatre work to the North American audience.
The performances continued inside the Campbell House with other various acts that included a live Q&A session, and an interactive video/light installation.
SummerWorks is the largest performance festival in Canada featuring predominantly new Canadian work. The festival has grown to become an innovator and trendsetter in our theatre community, showcasing an array of multidisciplinary programs from all over the country.
The 2014 SummerWorks Performance Festival runs from August 7th to 17th, 2014 in the new Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St. W.).
For more information about the 2014 SummerWorks Performance Festival, please visit: www.summerworks.ca/2014
Photos by Nick Lee and Nellie Chen (where indicated).