Progress Festival 2019

SummerWorks Performance Festival and The Theatre Centreare thrilled to announce the fourth edition of Progress, an international festival of performance and ideas that brings together progressive performance work from across the globe that responds to urgent issues of today, and is reflective of contemporary approaches to form.

Innovative in its programming model, Progress is collectively curated. Abandoning the traditional notion of singular, top-down artistic direction, the Festival brings together a different collection of curatorial partner organizations each year, enabling a diversity of perspective and representation that reflects the complexity and diversity of contemporary society.

The expansive 2019 program, while representing a broad array of themes and subjects, unifies around questions of visibility and invisibility in society, our relationship to memory and the importance of unearthing buried histories. The Festival kicks off with an excoriating feminist take-down of empty political rhetoric, Cock and Bull, conceived and directed by Scotland’s Nic Green. Audiences can experience both the  60 minute performance and the 7 hour and 41 minute durational iteration of the work. Also in the first week, Selina Thompson, who brought Race Cards to the 2018 Festival, returns with salt., a journey retracing one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle.

In the second week of the Festival, award-winning Canadian ex-pat Haley McGee returns to Toronto from the UK with her latest critically-acclaimed solo The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale, directed by Mitchell Cushman. 2018 McArthur Fellow, dancer/choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili and director/designer Peter Born bring Poor People’s TV Room SOLO, a reclamation of the buried history of movements of resistance and collective action in Nigeria. Performance artist Autumn Knightstages a one-night only performance of Documents, a public reading of documentation that serves to authenticate or legitimize citizenship.

In the final week of the Festival, the critical and audience hit, as well as winner of the 2018 SummerWorks Festival Production Prize, Lost Together from Shira Leuchter and Michaela Washburn, returns with fifty performances including public sessions. Indigenous, Australian ILBIJERRI Theatre Company brings Blood on the Dance Floor, written and performed by Jacob Boehme, a piece that explores the legacies and memories of our bloodlines, our need for community, and what blood means to each of us. Finally, at a moment of redefinition for the queer community in Brazil, Uma Nota Culture responds by presenting an intimate evening of new music and video from Brazilian/Canadian artist Bruno Capinan.

Free programming includes a Festival-long photo exhibition in the The Theatre Centre gallery, It’s About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900- 1970. Curated by University of Toronto’s Seika Boye, the installation illuminates the largely undocumented dance history of Canada’s Black population before 1970. Open daily throughout the Festival, two curator tours are also scheduled. 

For one night only, F-O-R-M (Festival of Recorded Movement) has curated a free screening of Moving/ Forward co-presented by New Blue Emerging Dance and SummerWorks. The film night will feature a five-year survey of dance created for the screen by artists based in western Canada. From Flamenco to street dance, this program provides a chance to experience myriad dance forms from a new perspective.

As always, ancillary programming that continues the conversation complements programmed performances and installations. Two community meals are scheduled - one of which invites international presenters to share and compare local contexts. Audiences can enjoy a night of ping pong on opening weekend, the red light district and Generator presents Arm Yourself with Capitalism’s Tools – A financial literacy crash course, thematically linked to The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale, and a Performance Curation talk will also be presented in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario.

New in 2019, Progress and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre introduce The Performance Bus! On February 13th, following the performance of Blood on the Dance Floor, audiences are invited to hop on the Performance Bus to shuttle to the Rhubarb Festival Opening Night Party. On the 16th, Rhubarb audiences can take the bus down to The Theatre Centre to join the revelry of the Progress Closing Weekend Bash. The Performance Bus will feature a host and pop-up performances along the way, curated by SummerWorks and Rhubarb.