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!

Interview Series – Nohayquiensepa

Geneviève Trilling (I’ll always be there to kill you) interviews Trevor Schwellnus about their production of


Director & Designer: Trevor Schwellnus
Presented by Aluna Theatre
Choreographer: Olga Barrios
Music and Sound Designer: Thomas Ryder Payne
Live Drawing: Lorena Torres
Featuring: Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Ravi Jain, Victoria Mata, Beatriz Pizano, Mayahuel Tecozautla

How do we deal with the death of strangers? — a multidisciplinary workshop presentation inspired by events in a Colombian river town on the fringe of great violence. Aluna has assembled a vibrant group of new media, theatre, and dance artists to make connections from our city to the world.

trevor1. What does the title of your show mean?

“Nohayquiensepa” roughly translates as “no one knows”, or “there is no one who knows” – to get the intonation, however, my wife Beatriz (the Spanish speaker) says “there is not a soul that knows”.

2. Tell us about your company?
Aluna Theatre is a Canadian-Colombian company that creates new performance work inspired in the collision many cultural backgrounds and art forms in Toronto, with a focus on Latin-Canadian artists and women.  I am the Canadian half, and my partner Beatriz Pizano is the Colombiana.  We try to keep our work focused on professional productions, but have also created a number of cultural exchanges and mentorship projects.  We’ve been stageing shows for six years now, have won a few awards, and now are trying to grow a bit as a company without burning out completely.

3. What inspired you to create this show?

This piece emerged out of two concerns: our company’s interest in exploring stories that focus on human rights, and on a number of artistic experiments I am trying with video projection on stage.

One of the stories that inspired this piece was the appearance of unidentifiable bodies / body parts drifting ashore in the Port city of Puerto Berrio on the Magdalena river in Colombia.  Puerto Berrio lies in a ‘hot zone’, where various factions (leftist guerillas, rightist paramilitaries, and the regular army) have been in contest since the sixties, and the river itself is often used as a mass grave.  When such body parts were found, local people “adopted” the bodies (called NN’s, for “no nombre” (“no names”)), created a mausoleum just for them, cared for the dead by, say, leaving a glass of water out for them (because the dead get thirsty).  This was not pure altruism: the NN’s were also asked for favours.  And they deliver: the village idiot was inspired by his NN to chose winning lottery numbers.  After that, everyone was checking out the shoreline for a floating body.

We picked up the thread of dealing with the death of anonymous strangers, and began to respond to these situations through collectively creating a piece that is part dance, part visual art, part theatre.  I centred the process on working within environments, because I suspect that video projection works best when the performer works with it from the beginning, making it part of her space.  I also have a number of curiosities about live drawing, cameras, shadows, etc, of the sort that designers generally fill their heads with.
4. How is your piece a collaborative effort?

This year we spent a month with some Colombian theatre makers, here and in Bogota, to learn their approach to “Collective Creation” – an approach I think of as collaborative, given the history of the word “collective” in Canada.  It involves improvisation before an audience – often other company members – who reflect back the series of actions they witness during a given improv.  So: they always build with both performer and observer present.  My twist on this formula is to make the room in which we work part of the improvisation, by proposing (and adapting) environments in real time.  The improvs, based on some source material and ideas, are analyzed, and then we do another round.  Everyone in the room creates, but the director definitely assembles and tweaks the work as the process matures and the improvs slowly transform into a series of related sequences.

5. Can you describe the different technical components of it?

I don’t want to give away our secrets, Genevieve, but we do use a number of cameras, a light table for live drawing, and some VJ software to manipulate video in real time.  It’s enough to really make me nervous about doing this in a festival.  But it’s a workshop presentation, we want to take a chance – this is also about trying to build a show with video as an integral component from the start.

6. Why does your show benefit from being multidisciplinary?

It was conceived that way.  In the kind of process we have embarked upon, artists come together to make whatever work they need to make together.  The pallet of skills and perspectives they bring define the project – so I guess it’s multidisciplinary because we were fascinated by the possibilities of bringing this hybrid group together.

7. What is the message of the show?

hmmm.  No one has a monopoly on suffering?  Death is an opportunity?  Dancers are hot?  No… maybe all I can say is that there is always more to someone else’s beliefs than you think — but also, less.

8. How did you find the members are the team ? How long ago did you start working on the piece?
Some of the team have worked with us on Aluna shows already – my partner Beatriz Pizano of course, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, our choreographer Olga Barrios and Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne; dancers Mayahuel Tecozutla and Victoria Mata, and Ravi Jain, we have known personally for a year or two, from their work in theatre and in the community, and actor Gina Jaimes came into town from our sister company, the Corporacion Colombiana de Teatro in Bogota.  Our visual artist, Lorena Torres, just walked into our office one day looking for work, which is basically fate.  The piece really began when Laura Nanni told me to get off my ass and submit a project to Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH: emerging theatre projects; so this past January, we were lucky enough to have a week in a theatre there, to give us the tech support we needed to launch this experiment.

9. Do you target a particular audience for this show?

Not really.  I will be thinking of that as the piece matures.  It’s intentionally not very wordy, so it can tour internationally a little more easily.  We have been invited to bring it to Bogota.  So: lots of people.

10.  Why do you think people should see it?

Because it’s gorgeous and moving.  I think that projection in theatre is getting to the point where we are creating a hybrid medium, and this show is consciously participating in the midwifery of a burgeoning aesthetic.  And I think everyone needs to see Olga’s choreography.

INTERVIEW SERIES – Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, by Brecht

Ryan Tilley from THE NICK DRAKE PROJECT interviews ESTHER JUN, director of:


by Bertolt Brecht

1. What inspired you to take on this story and difficult subject matter?

I have always been fascinated by Nazi Germany. What caused the German people to adopt such craziness? People think of Nazi Germany as a thing of the past, something that could not happen to them, but unfortunately I do not think that is true. People are capable of incredible things in extraordinary circumstances. Every time I read the play it give me chills. It could happen again, some of these scenes are happening right now somewhere in the world- people are living in fear.



2. Had you directed Brecht before?

Not a full production.  I have done a lot of Brecht scene work and workshops when I was traning in London (for directing).

3. In a festival featuring almost exclusively original works, why choose this piece?

I love the classics. I love making them accessible for new audiences. A classic is timeless for a reason and I love discovering those reasons. Plus no arguments or worrying about the playwrights feelings! This particular piece also seemed suitable for a festival- I wanted to work with an ensemble cast and the short scene structure seemed ideal for cutting (which turned out to be more difficult than I thought).

4. What drew you to tell

this story at this particular time in history?

See answer to #1. I recently have worked on two plays that have dealt with genocides ( a nanking winter & Ten Green Bottles). People say “we will never forget.” I do not think society has learned its lesson yet. Genocides are still happening and we are still sticking our head in the sand. The play is pre-holocaust, but you can see the seeds of fear and hate being planted. That is the moment things should change, not when it is too late.

5. Did you do a lot of research

for this piece?

I’m still in the process. I love research and have half the Toronto Public Library on hold.

6. What was your biggest discovery?

What complete emotional cripples the leaders of the Nazi Party were. I am still shocked that this group of damaged and sad individuals took over a country and caused such devastation.

Esther Jun

Esther Jun

7. What are your hopes for this piece?

I would love to do a full production of the entire script with huge multi-cultural cast. Colorblind casting is very important to me- I have a very diverse cast for this production which is not a political statement, but an artistic one.

8. What do you want people to take away from this experience?

I would love people to actually think what would they do in these situations. Do they really think they would do any better than the characters? I also want people to have a good time. I think people have certain expectations of Brecht. I just want to create a dramatic show that actually is alot of fun to watch.

9. What is your biggest fear as related to the subject matter of this play?

I do not want to hit anyone over the head with a message. This is not a show about Darfur, China, Burma or anywhere else. Audiences can take what they want. 10. In your synopsis you describe “The darkness in men’s hearts, that still beats today.”

10. How does this play relate to present times?

Refer to answers for 1 & 4. Governments, fanatics and the far right have not changed much. sigh! Continue reading


This is Daniela.  Daniela is awesome.  Daniela came along when I was asking a friend of mine who works in film to recommend an awesome publicist.  And so she recommended Daniela.  And she is.  Awesome.  Daniela. Is. Awesome.   She has worked for the Toronto Film Festival, and Much Music, and now, she works with us.
Daniela Syrovy
1.  Who are you and what are you doing here?

Daniela Syrovy, President of ClutchPR, Publicist, mom and escaped communist. I’m here to score SummerWorks some great press, coordinate interviews, compile the press kit and tend to the needs of all the journalists covering the Fest.

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

I’m looking forward to meeting a whole new world of art stars.

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

Last minute requests.

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


5.  Can you do any tricks?

Feet behind my head.

6.  Any final words?

Go hard or go home.


We here at SummerWorks know that you’ve been waiting ALL YEAR to find out who this year’s SUMMERWORKS STAFF are.  And so, without further ado, I introduce you to our first STAFF MEMBER.


I met Eric through Evan Newman (last year’s co-ordinator) when I was looking to work with someone to promote The Book of Judith (show I made earlier this year) to the music community.  After sitting down with Eric and working with him a bit, it became pretty clear that he would be an asset to our Music Series.  And HOLY CRAP has he ever.  The line-up he’s helped put together this year is remarkable.  Eric is a bit of a wunderkind in this here Taranna.  He’s a 10 year veteran of the biz and he’s only 25 years old.  (maybe 26 now?).  A big welcome to Eric!

ericwarnervespa1.  Who are you and what are you doing here?

Eric Warner. Music Co-Ordinator for Summerworks.
2.  What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
New friends, great memories, the arts.
3.  What are you least looking forward to at this year’s festival?
The festival being over.
4.  What is the best piece of advice you can offer?
Always work hard, learn through experience and apply the results to the best of your abilities.
5.  Can you do any tricks?
Breakdance, contortion, fire juggling.
6.  Any final words?
Thanks for the memories.