The Dork Shelf Guide to SummerWorks 2014

SummerWorks 2014

Since the early 90s the SummerWorks Performance Festival (which kicked off this past Thursday at various theatres in the city and runs to Sunday the 17th) has brought to Toronto some of the finest theatrical, musical, dance, fine arts, and mixed media installations from across the world, many for the first time and some just as special onetime engagements that may never be seen again.

While the main public focus might be on the juried theatrical program, there are plenty of musical creations that pair up some of the brightest stars in music (including Brendan Canning, Army Girls, and Weaves, all of whom had shows over the festival’s opening weekend) with some of the brightest minds in the world of theatre for special immersive experiences. There’s also quite a bit of live art that allows audience members to interact with their shows, sometimes on a very intimate one at a time basis.

In addition to the jury selected shows, there are also a handful of shows coming in from around the country to make their local debuts. The festival also serves as a nurturing environment for emerging artists and various theatre companies to help get their voices heard. Unlike Luminato (which is all about high profile, big business type stuff) and Fringe (where the quality of the shows is a lot less regulated and audience members can get shows of wildly varying quality), SummerWorks offers local audiences some of the most audacious performances of the year.

They also do it on a very scant budget that’s not even a quarter of their other yearly counterparts in some cases. This year’s budget for the entire festival is a comparatively scant $400,000, and considering that ticket prices are as low as $10 or $15 for shows (and in some cases, completely free), there’s no denying that audiences are more than getting their money’s worth.

This year, the festival has started a text-to-donate fundraising campaign that people should seriously consider donating to. Text CREATE to 41010 to donate as little as $5 (or $10 or $20) to keep the over 500 artists that make SummerWorks a really special time of year.


But you probably want to know more than anything how the shows are. So here is what we have seen so far this festival. Keep an eye on this space throughout the week as we check out more of what SummerWorks has to offer. For a full list of shows, venues, tickets, to donate to the festival online, and more information, please visit the SummerWorks website.


SummerWorks 2014 (all reviews by Andrew Parker)

Chicken Grease is Nasty Business (Juried Series)

Complex (Juried Series)


The Container (Juried Series)

Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! (Juried Series)

Thus Spoke… (National Series)

Tour (Live Art Series)


Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales (Juried Series)

Unknown Soldier (Juried Series)

The Water Thief (Juried Series)

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