how to pitch a play video

We understand there have been some people upset about the “how to pitch a play in canada” video.

We apologize to those whose feelings have been hurt by the video.  That was never ever our intention, though we understand that for some, this is what happened, and we are sorry.

We were nervous when we made the video. We were aware that it would open up a dialogue—one that we think is important. We can see why it was interpreted differently than we had intended.  Please allow me to clarify.

We made the video as an attempt to speak towards cultural appropriation.

When we sat down with Alon and Margo, the conversation was that we wanted to create a video where a white man appropriated different cultures in an attempt to get a grant. We asked him to say and do whatever he could to get the grant, and that’s what the improv was. We thought this was a funny idea, because it was a ridiculous way to get a grant, and also, because it is rooted in a belief that exists that this is, in fact, the way to get a grant. It was agreed by all that it was something that resonated as funny and good satire because it was something that they see all the time at the Arts Council, and it is a subject that that is often hotly contested.

We were never trying to say that there is no merit in diverse work. It was actually trying to mock those who would. We are making fun of the white actor in the video. We are making fun of ourselves. We tried to make it clear that the arts councilor is horrified by his behaviour, and that the empathy lies with her having to deal with this fool.

That said. I can understand how the edit of the video may not make that clear, and may not make the original intention clear.

The response to the video has been personally very illuminating—mainly in that what I perceived the video to be saying was clear to some and unclear to others. Upsetting to some, and not to others. I did want to have a dialogue about ignorance, particularly around diversity.  The joke was that a white man appropriates gender, sexuality and First Nations to get a grant; three of canada “hot” issues in both funding and programming.  We are not contesting the reasons why, nor say that it should be contested. I do think the reasons “why” should be understood.  We were trying to incite the conversation. This was the intent. I think this issue is important and actually key to the future of art in the country. I think that we are afraid of the dialogue because there is a general feeling that diverse programming and funding is something we should be doing, but not talking about—as if talking about it would somehow be inappropriate or give less value to the art. It is, however, an issue, and one that is too often spoken about in hushed tones, mainly because we do not know the difference between how we can and/or cannot talk about it. I believe this is creating a culture of fear when speaking about diversity. The conversation does not happen as often as it should and generalities are formed that are often ignorant. The video is trying to speak to that. It is trying to say “Here. This is what we are afraid of. Being this ignorant.” I think that is clear to some, and unclear to others. It is an attempt at satire.

We take many different angles when promoting SummerWorks, and we’ve tried to model the marketing so that it parallels the experience of seeing work at the festival. Some of it will be very slick and cool, some of it will be playful, some of it will be poignant and some of it will be provocative. This experience mirrors that of spending time watching work at SummerWorks. It is not just one thing, it is many different things.

Also, we were never trying to mock Agokwe. We do now recognize why it seems that way.  That was never our intent and was an oversight on our part, and if anybody is hurt by that, then I apologize. Upon watching the video now, we can see how that parallel has happened.


Michael Rubenfeld.


Record Breaking Year.

Thanks you all for an incredible, record breaking year.  It was truly a gift.

Keep checking the blog throughout the year for info and SummerWorks Podcasts.

Press Release below.



Toronto’s 19th annual SummerWorks Theatre Festival wrapped up the most successful year to date last night with an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding artistic achievements at the Factory Theatre Courtyard. With several new initiatives, artists from all disciplines and across Canada, SummerWorks is firmly planting its roots as the most influential and loved arts festival in the country. Festival turnout increased by 34% and the Music Series nearly doubled in attendance from last year.

“We’re blown away by the numbers this year, and continually humbled and inspired by the amount of talented artists participating in the festival this year. SummerWorks continues to exemplify the overwhelming amount of great artists in this incredible city and throughout the county,” says Michael Rubenfeld, Artistic Producer of SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

All awards are adjudicated by a jury of three theatre professionals except the NOW Audience Choice Award, which is determined by ballot. The award winners are as follows:

SummerWorks Prize for Outstanding Production
The prize is a free trip back to the festival next year. All companies presenting new work were eligible.

Greenland by Nicolas Billon, directed by Ravi Jain

Contra Guys Award for Outstanding New Play
Generously supported by two SummerWorks founders, Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann, the cash award is presented to the playwright with the best new script in the festival.

Say Nothing Saw Wood by Joel Thomas Hynes

Crow’s Theatre Award for Direction
Cash prize awarded for outstanding direction at the festival.

Alan Dilworth for The Middle Place

Honourable Mention: Rosa Laborde for Melancholy Play

The Spotlight Award
Awarded to a featured performer in a SummerWorks show. The winner receives a VIP pass to the festival next year.

Jordan Tannahill, Amelia Sargisson, Marika Schwandt, Tawiah M’carthy, Adam Burgess, Sarah Finn and Rebecca Powell for The Art of Catching Pigeons by Torchlight

Andrea Donaldson for Montparnasse (direction)

The Steamwhistle Emerging Artist Award
Awarded to an artist early in their career who made an artistic impression during the festival.

Akosua Amo-Adem for The Middle Place

RBC Arts Professional Award
A new award at the festival this year, which recognizes the work, craft and dedication of an emerging arts professional. This award is made possible with the support of RBC.

Matt Baram, Ronald Pederson, and Naomi Snieckus for Impromptu Splendor

The NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award
Audience members voted by placing their ticket stub in the NOW Audience Choice box before leaving the theatre. The Winner receives $1500 in free advertising with NOW magazine. All shows were eligible for this prize.

Greenland by Nicolas Billon, directed by Ravi Jain

Sipping coffee at the Luna Café with Matthew Barber

Sipping coffee at the Luna Café with Matthew Barber
By Carmel Garvez

Your latest album, Ghost Notes, came out March 2008 here in Canada. But it was released April of thismattB year in the US. Why did it take so long to have it out south of the border?
Matthew Barber: That’s just the way it goes. It was available digitally in the US right from the beginning, so people were buying it on iTunes and things like that. But just the terms to finding an actual label to release it physically and distribute it and put it in stores took a little while. But that’s pretty normal in the indie world.

How is it different from your previous albums?
MB: Overall, it’s a mellower album. I don’t know. I was just trying to really make my voice and the acoustic guitar or piano to be the focus of it, and just sort of build up sparse arrangements around it. On some of my previous albums, it’s a little bit more like the songs have been written for a rock band – been a little bit more aggressive.

I read something about some supernatural occurrence while you were recording Ghost Notes – hence, the name. What was that all about?
MB: There’s a noise in one of the songs that I can’t really explain. It sounds like a voice, although I can’t make out what it’s saying. And there was nobody else in the room when I was doing it, so it’s a bit of a mystery to me.

Which song is it?
MB: Somebody Sometime, it’s the second last song in the album. You really have to listen very carefully to hear it. There’s a noise right at the beginning of the third verse. “It’s Christmas Eve and my girl’s out to sea/ She’s a thousand miles away” – that line, and then, you kind of hear like there’s somebody in the background saying something. But there was nobody else there! I mean, it was just myself in one room. And then the guy who was engineering it was across the hall in another room. We recorded it in this big old house that was supposedly haunted. But I don’t really believe in ghosts.

But it’s a good story! Where did all this happen?
MB: Yeah, I kind of like that goosebumpy feeling sometimes, y’know? I recorded it in this place called the Bath House, which is near Kingston. It’s an old Victorian house right on the shore of Lake Ontario. It’s pretty secluded, but it’s a really cool studio.

Having done your masters in philosophy, do you incorporate that into your music?
MB: I think maybe subconsciously. I don’t really try to write songs about philosophical themes, other than the overarching, sort of just trying to make sense of the world. I try to take what I perceive in the world and just try to put it back in some sort of story or just try to capture a moment in a song. So there’s an element of philosophy in that, I suppose. But not in the rigorous, logical, academic way.

No songs about Aristotle?
MB: No, no. But I called my first album “Means and Ends”, which is kind of an Aristotle reference! But philosophy is kind of this subtle little thing that’s still a big part of who I am, because I’ve spent so much time studying it. Actually, in a lot of the new songs that I’m working on now, I’m addressing metaphysics a little bit more.

So, what is Matt Barber up to these days?
MB: I’m right in the thick of trying to figure out who I’m going to work with on my next album. I’ve been working a lot in my basement, recording demos, and writing songs. And I’m going to get busy again with touring in the fall. I’m going out west for a bit in September. And I’m going to try to set up a tour again in the States in October. But I have a fair bit of time right now, which is nice.

Don’t miss Matthew Barber with Claire Jenkins on Wednesday, Aug 12th at the Theatre Centre!
Theatre Centre!

The Indie Caucus Town Hall #3

The Indie Caucus invites any and all interested parties to:

The Indie Caucus Town Hall #3

Indie Caucus Candidates Revealed!

WHEN:  Thursday August 13th, 7:00pm

WHERE:  The Theatre Centre  (there will be signs on the door for the exact

This is the first Town Hall since the historic 96-1 vote at the CAEA 2009
AGM to better represent the needs of member/creators.

This Town Hall is being held during the SummerWorks Festival at The Theatre
Centre to reach as many independent theatre creators as possible with the
latest exciting developments in how professional associations are adapting
to modern creation practices.

This Town Hall will present:

The names of the two indie caucus candidates who will be running for CAEA
Council and the two candidates who will be running for CAEA Ontario CPAG in
this fall’s CAEA election. Some of them will also be present at the meeting to announce:

– Their platforms.

– What the heck a CPAG is.

– Important information regarding why the ITA agreement has just been extended
for a single year.

– Equally important information about a new Fringe/SummerWorks Contract that is currently being drafted by CAEA.

– An update on what steps CAEA has made to fulfill the mandate set forth in the 96-1 vote for reform at the previous AGM.

– This is a key moment in how the agreements we use to make art together will develop over the next decade.

Come learn more this week and save yourself ten years of banging your head on the wall.

3 more chances to see Daniel Barrow.

There are three more chances to see the brilliant Daniel Barrow’s piece, Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry.  This piece is presented by the SummerWorks Festival.

“This memorable theatrical experience will leave you changed”
– Chandler Levack, EYE Weekly

“Daniel Barrow’s piece is a marvel of multi-layered overhead projections”

-Jon Kaplan. NOW Magazine

Don’t miss your chance to see this brilliant artist at his finest.

3 more performances @ the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace.

Tuesday, August 11th – 8:30

Friday, August 14th – 8:30

Saturday, August 15th – 2:30



Hi All,

Boys Who Say No and Fox Jaws are offering a great deal for the show at the Theatre Centre Tomorrow night, Tuesday, doors at 10:00


Bring a ticket stub for ANY SUMMERWORKS THEATRE SHOW, and you can get a ticket for $5.00 instead of the regular $10.00.

Please pass this along!  There are both great bands, and it is bound to be a great show.

Sunday? Wha?

How is it Sunday already?

Here are a few photos and a video from the FEST so far.

Colin Doyle and Natasha Greenblat(t) at the Performance Gallery

Colin Doyle and Natasha Greenblat(t) at the Performance Gallery

Line-up around the block to get into THINK ABOUT LIFE/DD/MM/YYYY show.

Line-up around the block to get into THINK ABOUT LIFE/DD/MM/YYYY show.

DD/MM/YYYY playing “Bronzage” at the Theatre Centre

Has been a great fest so far.  Hope everyone is enjoying themselves.