SummerWorks Festival

SummerWorks Festival preview

The SummerWorks Theatre and Arts Festival is celebrating its 20th year in 2010 and runs from August 5th through the 15th. The festival, first organized in 1991, showcases a diverse range of live music and theatre. As their website puts it: "As the largest juried festival in Canada featuring predominantly New Canadian plays, SummerWorks looks to program a festival that uniquely reflects Toronto and Canada's cultural zeitgeist." Once again this year, the theatre stream is complimented by an amazing line up of musical talent. To get the most of this 11-day festival, here are a few names to look out for.

A Biography of the Dead and Dying

Andrew Templeton and Sam Macmillan kick off the Factory Theatre Main Space's shows with the haunting work A Biography of the Dead and Dying. The story follows an author's intense bond with the spirit of the dead man that she is writing a biography of. The play was a knockout at Vancouver's Fringe Festival, and I'd expect the same at Summerworks.

Iphigenia at Aulis

Last year's winner for outstanding production, Nicolas Billon, teamed up this year with Roger Beck to create an intriguing adaptation of Iphigenia at Aulis. This Greek drama - by Euripedes - delves into human value and sacrifice in a time of war. Better show up early for a good seat to this one.

The WITCH of Edmonton

If the weather cooperates, I'll be checking out The WITCH of Edmonton at Trinity Bellwoods Park. This Dekker, Rowley & Ford creation is the story of a falsely branded witch in a small Edmonton town who sells her soul to the devil to take revenge. It's showing at 5pm on August 5-8 and 10-14.

Post Eden

Writer and director Jordan Tannahill - with his performance company, Suburban Beast - returns this year with Post Eden. It's difficult to explain this play's plot without making it seem like it's going nowhere, but I'd recommend checking out the preview on YouTube to see whether it's something that you'll dig.

Haunted Hillbilly

A more unique choice is Graham Cuthbertson's redneck masterpiece Haunted Hillbilly. It's a strange and interesting tale of Hyram Woodside's bloody pursuit of country music eminence. Cowboys, country music and vampires: all the ingredients for a worthwhile hoedown.

The Hidden Cameras

The Hidden Cameras are launching the musical component of the festival with a two-night appearance at The Lower Ossington Theatre. Tickets are still available even though these shows have been generating a lot of buzz over the past few weeks.

More music picks

Others top picks on the musical program include the acoustically gifted Laura Barrett, soon to be breakout artist Diamond Rings, Ghost Bees and The Wilderness of Manitoba. Check the web site for the full schedule.

The SummerWalks series

For the second year in a row, SummerWorks is hosting a SummerWalks series - a set of three distinct walking tours. My top pick is Invisible Toronto, a performance set around Queen and Bathurst. Says guide Falen Johnson: "It isn't anywhere you haven't been before but it may be a place you have never really seen."

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