Arts & Entertainment
3 min

Five queer picks for SummerWorks 2015

Our choices for the hottest tickets at the Toronto arts festival

Founded in 1991, SummerWorks has grown from a tiny performance series to an expansive platform for theatre, dance, music and live art. Along with being a launching pad for hugely successful shows, the fest provides a home for quirky, one-time-only events. Though less of a mammoth than Fringe, SummerWorks is still large enough that finding queers in the sprawling program can be a challenge. But fear not! We’ve assembled some of this year’s homo hot tickets.

Charisma Furs
created and performed by Katie Sly

Katie Sly is not shy about sex. Whether it’s her Too Queer Bi Visibility Cabaret series, her meditations on rope-bondage for Buddies’ Genderplay or her raunchy collaborations with photographic bad boy Drasko Bogdanovic, the Toronto-based writer/performer has no problem letting it all hang out. But with her current offering, Sly shows a different side, discussing her complicated relationship with love. Developed with director Jonathan Seinen, Charisma Furs follows her experiences with New York dominatrixes, schoolyard soccer games and poorly attended poetry slams as she seeks that illusive little thing called intimacy.

Forgetting Remembering
created by Robert Kingsbury

Whether it’s a puff from your monster bong, a Good Wife marathon or a simple stroll in the park, everybody needs the occasional chance to zone out. But for choreographer Robert Kingsbury, that escape from reality can be a little too great. Using a combination of repetitive movement and audience participation, his piece for eight dancers aims to detach us from our detachment and really be in the now. As a bonus, particularly daring performance-goers might get to have a video projector strapped to their heads.

Let’s Not Beat Each Other To Death
created and performed by Stewart Legere

Queer bashing isn’t a subject that usually gets people up and shakin’ their butts. But that’s part of what Stewart Legere hopes to achieve with Let’s Not Beat Each Other To Death. Part theatre, part eulogy and part dance party, the show gets its first full Toronto production after its stops in Ottawa and Victoria. Sparked by the murder of Raymond Taavel and the violent attack of Scott Jones in Legere’s native Halifax, Let’s Not aims to capture the vibrancy of queer resistance in the face of violence, taking the audience from “We’re fucked!” to “Fuck it!” in 75 minutes.

MacArthur Park Suite: A Disco Ballet
created by Ryan G Hinds

Like many a great work of art, Ryan G Hinds’s SummerWorks debut was inspired by a dramatic break-up. Trying to soothe his damaged heart, he hit the gym with his iPod in tow. While pounding it out on the treadmill to his Donna Summer playlist, her disco-fied take on heartbreak came buzzing through his headphones and it was like she was singing about him. The resulting show features much of Summer’s catalogue, along with tutus, Soul Train lines and a “cocaine-fuelled” orgy. Whether it turns out to be an upper or a downer, MacArthur Park will definitely put a new spin on what it feels like to be a cake left out in the rain.

What Happens to JOOJ in 24 Hours: According to Bojana & Alex
music and performance by JOOJ
concept and direction by Bojana Stancic and Alex Wolfson

SummerWorks is known for producing shows that are picked up by major theatres, go on international tours and win Governor General’s Awards. What Happens to JOOJ will not be one of those. The collaboration, between Sook-Yin Lee and Adam Litovitz’s music project and smarty-pants creative duo Bojana Stancic and Alex Wolfson, is definitely a one-time-only event. The quartet will spend 24 hours shuttered in a theatre with instruments, cameras and a list of parlour games. At Hour 23, the doors fly open and audiences flood in to see what’s left of the exhausted team.

(SummerWorks
Thursday, Aug 6Sunday, Aug 16, 2015

Various locations
summerworks.ca)

(Editor’s note: The sentence referencing Raymond Taavel and Scott Jones has been edited. Scott Jones was identified as being murdered, he was not. He was attacked and left paralyzed in October 2013 and remains a vocal activist today.)