Around The House – Njo Kong Kie

Hi SummerWorks Friends.

This is first in a short series of videos called “Around the House with Michael Rubenfeld”, in which SummerWorks Participants hang around with me … at my house.

The first person to stop by was Njo Kong Kie, composer for La Señorita Mundo – an operatic allegory

Thanks for coming by Kong Kie!



My date with DD/MM/YYYY by Carmel Garvez

Welcome to the first post from our music intern, Carmel Garvel!



Carmel has just finished high school and has joined us to cover some of the music this year.  When I asked Carmel to introduce herself, this is what she had to say

“I’m not really sure what to say!
I’m 18 and I am a full-fledged environmentalist. I probably listen to way too much music for my own good, and I like catching good bands live.


My date with DD/MM/YYYY
by Carmel Garvez

We sat and had lunch with Matt King and Moshé Rozenberg from DD/MM/YYYY and their friend Jeremy at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky in the heart of Kensington Market.

left to right: Carmel, Moshé, Jeremy, Matt

left to right: Carmel, Moshé, Jeremy, Matt

The Toronto quintet has been labelled to have a “No Style Style.” But in between talks about super industrial Velcro and killer bees and professing their love for olives, Matt and Moshé get deep when it comes to discussing their far from conventional music.

Moshé: It’s definitely not like we make it a point to [be different]. It has something to do with the kind of music we listen to. It just really varies…

Matt: I’ve been playing music since I was thirteen, and I’m twenty-seven now, so that’s fourteen years I’ve been playing the guitar and writing music. If I was still writing four-chord rock n roll, it’s kind of like doing a disservice to myself. It’s like you’re halting your progression in your craft or whatever you’re making. I think we’ve all tried to make it a point to really challenge ourselves physically and intellectually.

Moshé: You want to keep learning. You don’t ever just want to be like the ones who just want to go back to when things were good. You don’t want to stunt your growth. And when you have a band full of five people who are thinking like that, they’re going to help you improve. And you’re going to help them improve, and you come up with something new.

Matt: At least keep yourself interested and stimulated, and let things change and grow naturally. I think that’s just what’s happened with DD/MM/YYYY.

Moshé: I definitely would never want to make a point to play weird music.

Matt: Yeah, we’re not trying to freak people out! It’s the music that we love to play. It’s the music that we just happen to write. It’s incidental in that way. We just let it flow, but we obviously edit ourselves.

DD/MM/YYYY is essentially a collective of different creative means. Despite being a full-time band, when they’re not cooking up music together, each member has his own side-project to tend to.
Matt, who is also an artist, just recently installed his dollar “comedy art” at Gallery 1313 in Parkdale, and Moshé has his own record label.

Moshé: We want to be this hub of people. We come together, but then when we move apart, we do all these crazy things. But we come together again.

Matt King's "comedy art" at Gallery 1313

Matt King's "comedy art" at Gallery 131

Matt: In some ways, it’s our laissez-faire approach to letting things happen. But at the same time, we all have that ambition to make this band the best band that we possibly can. And that means practicing as much as we can, going on tour, and sharing the music with people.

So, what does this tell us about the future of DD/MM/YYYY?

Matt: We hope to eventually be able to work even harder and support ourselves by doing it. That’s not the be-all end-all goal, but there’s no end to learning and progressing in terms of how you write music. So, if we could do that all the time, it would be fucking amazing.







Interview Series – My Funny Valentine

Interview with Dave Deveau (My Funny Valentine)

by Leah Bailly (Some Reckless Abandon)
Dave Deveau

Dave Deveau

Dave Deveau, playwright and star of “My Funny Valentine” is a bit of a boy-wonder. Star of Nickelodeon TV shows and operatic librettist (he writes the words), his work spans multiple genres and over two decades. His film “Belly” is currently touring festivals in four continents, and his theatre has been produced by such greats as the uber-hip Buddies in Bad Times. A recent graduate of UBC’s playwriting MFA, Dave is returning for his second SummerWorks festival. I took a moment to ask Dave a few questions about his latest work:

1. Your piece, “My Funny Valentine” is based on the tragic murder of Lawrence King in his Oxnard, California middle school. What first drew you to this story as the basis for your one-person play?

To be honest, I had never really conceived of writing this play. I first encountered the story while watching an episode of Ellen’s talk show in February of last year (which has transferred into the play). The show is usually upbeat and goofy but got quite solemn for a moment while she talked about Lawrence’s murder. I became hugely emotional, but was mostly incensed that I hadn’t heard about this story before – that media outlets weren’t outraged by the tragedy of it all. Over the course of 2008 I finally decided that I needed to write about it as no one else seemed to be, but my relationship to the material was still so emotional and raw that I couldn’t fathom coming to the page with it. It’s been one heck of a journey being able to come to the material without getting tied up in strictly the emotion.
2. The death of Lawrence King has raised awareness regarding hate crimes, and many gay and lesbian rights groups are labeling this murder as such. However, the family of Lawrence King appears to be against classifying Larry’s murder as a “hate crime”. What are your feelings on this?

This was part of my real fuel to write the piece. As the details of the legal aftermath came out, I was shocked. Larry was bold enough to come out at age 10 and then his own family decided to deny a huge part of him? Unacceptable. It’s not just that they haven’t been using the word “hate crime”, but to go on record saying their son was not gay is too much.
3. What kinds of research were required for you to craft your play “My Funny Valentine”, and how did you know which sources to trust?

I started at the core – the first articles that came out in Malibu papers outlining that a student had been shot and that no one really knew why. And then day by day the articles get more detailed and more horrifying. A major article in Newsweek, which was one of the first to do major coverage, stirred up much controversy when the journalist suggested that Lawrence was “wielding his sexuality like a weapon” – certainly that got the gay press involved in a huge way.
On the flipside I’ve watched countless video responses of gay teens in the US who just felt moved and needed to talk to the world on YouTube. Everyone has an opinion, and sifting through all of them you slowly start putting the facts together.
4. How careful have you been in reconstructing this story according to the real events? Nonfiction/fiction: how did you reconcile the gaps in what you know?

The show is constructed around my own connection to Lawrence – a haunting of sorts. So within that frame, the events themselves are intact. Obviously in writing a show you’re creating voice for people you don’t know and as such there are fictionalized relationships, perhaps, but not fabrications. I’ve chosen characters who, for the most part, aren’t right at the centre of the events but have a passionate relationship to them. People who’ve been referred to in articles, but whose voices have never quite emerged – that’s been my focus.
Lawrence King

Lawrence King

5. There has been much speculation since the murder of Lawrence King about the age at which young men and women are coming out as gay. How does your show deal with the themes of coming out, and (if you can) how can you comment on the fact that gay youth are coming out earlier than ever?

The show touches on coming out at early ages and I think it’s a fantastic thing. If young people are able to come into their own at an earlier age, it gives them more opportunity to really discover themselves, which sounds so trite until you look at the statistics of gay teen suicide. These stats came up in earlier drafts of this piece, and they’re staggering – ten year olds hanging themselves because they feel they’ll never be able to come out to their families! Horrible shocking stories. It’s fascinating to hear people in articles and responses to articles go on about how children at that age don’t know what they want, and yet we have young heterosexual boys and girls who have “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” in grade 1 and some parents think it’s adorable. If these straight models are encouraged at young ages, then why not alternatives? It’s up to us to provide that support, that encouragement. (And now I’ll hop off my soapbox.)
6. The trial for the murder of Lawrence King is just beginning now (July 2009). What impact do you think this has on your play, and how will it resonate with future performances?
A lot can happen before opening – there just might be some last minute changes. We had a moment mid-rehearsal the other day to acknowledge the beginning of the trial. It’s strange in a way: half a continent away we’re digging into the emotional and personal core, while they’re analyzing the factual and legal core.

7. Why did you choose theatre as the genre for this particular story. I know you work in opera and film. Why is the stage the best venue here?

I think the Lawrence King story could work in any genre, really. But for these purposes, I want to personally engage with the audience: just me and a few props. Yes, there are other characters being performed, but ultimately it’s about my own connection to the material, my deafening rage, my sadness and inviting the audience to invest in the story in the way I have: “This is what got me… what do you think?” That’s hard to achieve on film certainly, and in opera as well, which is a much bigger medium. This is a tiny show in a tiny space and it requires that immediacy and intimacy.
nellyboyposter8. Small theatre festivals (and audiences) often shy away from dramas, and tend towards comedy or sketch theatre. How do you find the balance between entertaining and working with heavier themes?

I don’t think that’s the case with SummerWorks audiences. I had a drama in the festival two years ago (Nelly Boy) and we had good houses. SW audiences are here to see good, well-thought out, and often challenging theatre, which looking at the programming this year they’ll get en masse. Much of the audience base is made up of regular theatre-goers. It’s a different crowd than a Fringe audience, in a way, not that there’s anything wrong with Fringe audiences, I’ve been a part of them for years!
But my show has its share of laughs as well. As with everything, all dark has light and vice versa. It’s impossible to engage in something if it’s strictly going to take you down the rabbit hole.
9. Why a one-person show for this piece?

I don’t think of this as a solo show – the audience is the second performer. Much of the piece is direct-address and it’s really me trying to engage them into this world, this story. It’s so very current, that I want people to know about it, and follow it – that’s how change happens.
10. How does it feel to be performing your own work? And why did you choose to perform this piece, and return to acting after a long stint away?

Terrifying. Absolutely gut-wrenchingly terrifying. But freeing when in rehearsal my director shows me that the text doesn’t necessarily sound the way I’ve always thought it did in my mind. But after a lot of time away from the stage, something this close to me, this relevant to me and the world I inhabit, seemed like the only way to do it return.

Interview Series – TORONTO NOIR

Jane Miller (Lake Nora Arms) interviews Heather Davies of TORONTO NOIR


1. What drew you to these stories?

They explore the underbelly of ‘Toronto the Good’. They’re characters that are three dimensional, local, come from a recognizable genre, Film Noir, (and a genre that I think is fun!) and explore a super theme- guilt, or the lack of it. The quality of the writing, which is super, was also a compelling factor.

2. What’s the biggest challenge going to be for you and your company in adapting them to the stage?

I’ve been out of town for a few months- so everything, casting, designing, organising posters, contracts, has all been done via phone and internet. That’s been a wee challenge. I’m really looking forward to getting in the rehearsal room with everyone- I think that will feel relatively easy after the challenges of organizing from abroad… Once we get into the rehearsal room I think the challenge will be getting the three separate stories to work together as one theatre piece.

3. What’s the biggest opportunity going to be?

The learning curve of doing the project- at the moment the biggest opportunity is the amount there is to be learned by participating in Summerworks. After that- we’ll see what happens- one step at a time…

4. How hard was it to convince the authors to allow you to use their material? Did anyone make any requests/demands/limitations on what you can do with them?

Sean Dixon

Sean Dixon

I was really surprised and delighted that all three people, Sean Dixon, Kim Moritsugu and Michael Redhill all gave me permission. I’ve never had that happen. I’ve written to people about adapting fiction into a theatre before- but this was the most positive response. I was absolutely thrilled when they said yes. The starting point for our conversations about requests/demands was that the integrity of the stories was really important. We then moved on from there.

Kim Moritsugu

Kim Moritsugu

5. Why do you make theatre? Why this art form?

Theatre- hmm…. This could be a really long answer. The short answer is because I love telling and sharing stories and I think that an audience experiences them in a different way when ‘it’s live and in the same room’ and I like that. For me it’s an intimate, human, universal and timeless experience- My reason for doing theatre changes all the time- there are so many enjoyable components to it!

6. How does this piece fit into the trajectory of your career?

Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill

Well, it’s the first play that I’ve directed in Canada- I’ve just finished an MFA in Theatre at York and was living and working in the UK before that. This is totally new territory for me, producing, adapting, working in Canada, it’s a wonderful and slightly terrifying chapter. Not sure about where it fits into the trajectory, but I’m sure that will all become clear in good time. I really wanted to do it- so I’m excited about doing it.

7. What’s going to be the draw for audiences to want to see this show?

Film Noir meets “Toronto the Good”. These are the people in your neighbourhood, Parkdale, The Distillery District and the St Lawrence Market, as you’ve never seen them. Fantastic characters committing delightfully amoral acts. Three witty, macabre, local tales by brilliant Canadian writers, brought to life with music, dynamic acting and movement.

8. Do you like questionnaires?

Love ‘em! They make you think about what you’re doing-

9. What resources are you drawing on personally for this work and which do you need to find in others in your company?

I’m producing for the first time, so I need lots of help with this from other company members. I’m adapting for the first time, so I’m speaking to lots of chums about this- and I’m also directing, thankfully I feel comfortable doing that! I’m going to need support with music and movement from the company- and I’m sure that there will be a fair amount of collaboration in the rehearsal room. It’s super to be working with a cast that have such a wide range of expertise: music, mime, Suzuki, Viewpoints, dance, Growtowski… it’s very exciting.


10. What do you hope people will leave the theatre feeling/thinking after seeing Toronto Noir?

That they love the characters created by the writers- Kim Moritsugu, Sean Dixon and Michael Redhill. I also hope that people laugh, are a bit shocked by some of the characters’ behavior and if they say, “That was fun! I laughed and oooh- it’s made me think what a lovely person I am!” that would be marvellous. If people went on to read more work by these writers, or to see more of their theatre work, then that would be excellent.

Interview Series – I Will Always Be There To Kill You

Trevor Schwellnus (Nohayquiensepa) interviews:

Genevieve Trilling of I Will Always Be There To Kill You, produced by Pure Cassis

genevieveGenevieve Trilling has one foot in France and the other in Canada. This year she is producing and acting in a number of productions both here and at the Hamilton Fringe. When I first got in touch with her, all I knew was the title of her piece, I Will Always Be There To Kill You : a little creepy, maybe noir, maybe ironic, maybe touching, maybe … vampire. I was wrong, of course; it is French. A French comedy.

Genevieve translated the piece for SummerWorks, where it will receive its premiere in Canada – were she will perform it both in English and in French. Which language is funnier, deeper, more in tune with your existential core? Go see it twice and find out!

Children of Trudeau, feel your bilingualism pay off!

1. Why this title?

The title “I’ll always be there to kill you” is the closest translation to “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer”.

2. Who are you and how did you end up here?

My name is Geneviève Trilling and I am an actor here in Toronto. Originally from France, I spent a few months there after I got married in 2008. I saw the play “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” while in Paris. Back in Canada, I contacted Sophie Tonneau and asked her if she would be interested in having it translated and mounted in Canada

je serai

3. What are you risking / putting at risk in this project?
Well, I guess a first project is always pretty risky. It’s my first time producing a play. But most of all, I would say that the risk is the fact that we are actually putting 2 shows up.  Half of the performances will be in French, half in English.

The play is a two-hander, one male, one female. I play the female role in both languages but two different guys will play the male role. So the risk is mostly in the amount of work this represents. As for the content of the play, it’s a comedy, a little strange maybe, but light and entertaining and the challenge is to do the play justice, like in any production.

4. How important is bridging cultures to the work you do as an artist?

For this particular project, it has become important in a sense that the play we picked was originally written in French and is set in France. The idea was to explore the story and make it work for a North American audience but also give them the option of seeing the play in its original version.
I wouldn’t say we are heavily “bridging cultures” in this piece but it is very interesting to see the difference in delivery, rhythm and energy between the two languages.  As for my work as an artist, I do find mixing cultures and exploring behaviors important but mostly I find the process fascinating and highly enjoyable.

5. Do you identify with any particular theatrical tradition?

Not really. I hope to have a career that eventually allows me to touch on all styles of performance. I am trained in Musical Theatre, dance, movement and music but I’ll try absolutely anything.
I feel that maybe Pure Cassis could start a tradition of providing plays in both French and English in the same run… so more people get to see performances in French.

6. Tell me more about Sophie Tonneau and her work.

sophie_tonneau_3I’ll tell you what I know but here is the thing: she will be here, in Toronto,  in person during SummerWorks!
Sophie is a director, actor, playwright and songwriter. She lives in Paris but she has traveled a lot and spent quite a bit of time in England. She finds in the stage a way of continuing to travel.  She has directed and acted in numerous plays. Her writing credits include: “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” (Editions l’Harmattan), “Ne m’appelle plus Baby, Chérie, c’est fini”, “Du ciel dans l’eau”, “Troposites”. She is now writing a comedy on French society.
In Paris, the play “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” was performed 120 times during the course of a year. Three different men played Simon, although Franck Le Hen originated the role. Sophie played the role of Helen in all performances. It was last seen at the Théâtre du Funambule in Montmartre last spring.

7. Who are the actors you are working with, and why them?  What was it that convinced you to bring a French actor here, rather than cast locally?

We did cast locally but let me explain.
Christian Smith is the actor I am working with in the English production. He just graduated from York and has been absolutely amazing. He is such a strong, confident and giving actor that I could not have dreamed of a better partner. He simply auditioned for us when we put out the casting call. At the time, we were possibly looking for a bilingual actor. But it was tricky. We considered working with an actor who could speak French with an accent but because the text has a definite French/Parisian rhythm, we ideally wanted someone who naturally spoke with that accent.

Manuel Verreydt

Manuel Verreydt

Manuel, although originally from France (Belgium actually) lives here in Toronto and works as actor. He was in France for few months and was coming back to Toronto this summer. It’s just a blessing that the timing worked out so well. Manuel is incredible both as an actor and a member of this team. I can’t even start to express how lucky I feel about having him on board. C’est vraiment génial.

8. Why are the French so intense?

You are asking the wrong person: I am French and feel totally normal! Intense, what do you mean? I don’t know. Latin blood maybe. I would say the main difference is that French people are used to confrontation, for us, it’s not a big deal to argue and then hug two minutes later. Canadians tend to avoid altercations and really hesitate to raise their voices.  Slightly different ways of communicating I guess. Now, the other thing is that French people strive for quality and don’t hesitate to openly criticize. That’s ingrained in the Culture, it’s part of the history of the country. Ok, sometimes it can be a bit much, I agree.

9. How long have you been working to make this show a reality?  Why this script, specifically?

The project was born some time in January when I contacted Sophie Tonneau. I had seen her perform the play in a small theatre in Paris and thought it would be good idea to mount it here. Then in April, when I found out we had gotten into SummerWorks, I set things in motion, found a director, ran auditions etc… We started rehearsing early June in the rehearsal space of the TFT (Théâtre Français of Toronto). Their help to the production has been asbolutely tremendous.
I chose this script because I simply fell in love with it when I saw the show. Also, I was looking for a role I could play and the character of Helen was a perfect fit.

10. If doing theatre was suddenly labeled a terrorist act, what would you do?

I would be even more excited to do it. I love danger.
Ultimately, if I think something is good for people, I’ll keep doing it. And Theatre is. Plus, it’s so much fun, and I need to have fun in life!

SummerWorks Production looking for last minutes Sound Designer


For the new play THE PIANO TUNER, playing at the Cameron House August 6-16 as part of this year’s SummerWorks Festival, I am still in search of a sound designer/technician, who would enjoy working on developing a soundscape for this project. Should you be interested in collaborating with us, here is some more information:


“A famous Italian tenor is shot dead on a Berlin stage. The twin children of the suspect, a legendary piano tuner and failed composer, return home, trying to understand what happened. Years earlier, escaping their incestuous love for one another, the twins cut all family ties. Suddenly reunited, they are forced to overcome their speechlessness. Determined to find the truth, they recount their unique intimacy, but also the disintegrating effect their father’s music had on the family. Through remembering and writing they begin developing their individual identities. Living apart from her own identical twin was the director’s incentive for this project.”

We already have some key sound concepts but I look forward to developing additional ideas with the designer.

Should you be interested in this project or have any further questions, please contact me ASAP at


Best wishes,

Birgit Schreyer Duarte
Presented by TWINWERKS

Staff Profile – Avery Swartz

Say hello to Avery



Some of you may already know or remember Avery as the former publicist.

We’re very proud to say that she has  graduated to our web developer.

Avery Swartz is essentially one of the single most reliable people I know.  She always does what she says she will, and usually faster than you thought possible.  She is remarkable, and I’m so relieved and pleased that she’s still with us.

1. Who are you and what are you doing here?

I’m Avery and I make the website go.

2. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

Erin Shields kind of blows my mind. So Montparnasse and The Epic of Gilgamesh are at the top of my list.

3. What are you least looking forward to at this year’s festival?

Wow. That’s hard. Definitely not any of the shows. Ummmm… maybe poorly air-conditioned theatres? I’m a bit of a priss about heat.

4. What is the best piece of advice you can offer?

Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. Okay, that’s really pretentious. But it’s from Samuel Beckett, and he was on to something, no?

5. Can you do any tricks?

I can roll my tongue. That’s a genetic trait you know.

6. Any final words?

I can make you a website. Yep, this is shameless self-promotion here. But there’s a recession on, people!