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.


Interview Series – Impromptu Splendour

Summerworks Interview

Bronwyn Davies Glover from Old Peculiar interviews Matt Baram of

Impromptu Splendour

Ron Pederson, Naomi Snieckus, Matt Baram

Ron Pederson, Naomi Snieckus, Matt Baram

What inspires you as a performer?

Working with people that surprise me.

What kind of reactions do you want to evoke from your audience with your Summerworks piece?
I want people to leave the theatre thinking that what they saw was a fully rehearsed piece of theatre. I want them to forget that what they’re watching is being improvised. I want the audience to laugh but I want the laughs to be the deep feeling laughs that come from
grounded performances and truthful connections to the moment.

How do you feel that improv differs from scripted theatrical work?
With an improvised play, we have to be actors, directors, designers
and playwrights all at the same time. Some long forms use a director
that sits on the side and controls the narrative. We don’t use that
convention. We are the directors. We have to trust that we all know
where the play is going at all times. The choices we make in the
moment have never been tried and tested in a rehearsal process so we
have to challenge ourselves to commit fully to our choices as we’re
thinking of them. When it works well, we are just reacting truthfully
to one another. When we get into our heads and start “writing” too
much we know that we’re in trouble.

Impromptu Splendor2What does a “rehearsal” look like for you and your company? What happens?
When we decide on the playwright who’s style will inspire our
improvised play, we get together and read a play or two by that
playwright. This process usually involves wine or something stronger.
We discuss the play throughout and talk about how we can do that
playwright justice. We gather set pieces that we beg, borrow or
steal… it’s usually something we bring from home or find on the
street. One of us buy a record that suits the style of playwright. We
operate our own sound from our record player that sits  down stage
right. Mainly our process is discussion. We never get up and try
anything until we are on stage in front of the audience. Most of the
work is in the reading and discussion.

Do you find one another funny when you are working? Does this ever break concentration or create outrageous scenes?
One of our biggest challenges is to curb the amount of breaking we do
when we perform. The problem is that we’re so excited by each others
choices that are happening in the moment that we can’t help but lose
it from time to time. It’s best when we don’t though.

For me the most exciting part of being a part of Summerworks is the
fact that Summerworks wants us to be a part of it. We have been
striving to build a bridge between Improvisation and “Theatre” ever
since we started this so it is an absolute perfect fit for us. So


Not sure how to answer this one. I think I’ll reserve my judgement on
this one since it’s my first time at the festival.


In september of 08, we were approached by Steven Fisher, a local
writer whom you may know, and he told us that the newly opened Comedy
Bar at 945 Ossington was looking for shows to fill their schedules.
Steve said that I should put a show together. So I met with Naomi and
Ronald and talked over some ideas over drinks at the Jersey Giant one
night in September. We decided that we wanted to create a show that
stretched improvisation into an art form that included our love for
the theatre. We came up with the idea of improvising plays which has
been done before. At some point, Ronald brought up the idea of using
Woody Allen’s work as a point of inspiration for our opening night in
October. It went surprisingly well and from then on we adopted the
notion of using a famous playwright as a source of inspiration every
time we do a play.

A Sunday afternoon with Rajiv (from Oh No Forest Fires)

A Sunday afternoon with Oh No Forest Fires’ Rajiv Thavanathan

The singer and guitarist of Toronto’s indie outfit Oh No Forest Fires sure is quite the character. On a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon, I met with an addled Rajiv, who was desperately trying to recover from the previous night’s post-Cursive hangover.

Rajiv just returned to the city after touring with the Black Hat Brigade. After sending me a text message at three o’clock in the morning, we finally decided to meet at Bloor and Bathurst. The plan was that we would have lunch at a place called Central, a favourite of his, located behind Honest Ed’s. But, of course, nothing ever goes to plan. Central only opens in the evenings every Sunday.

The one thing that Rajiv made perfectly clear with me, however, is how he doesn’t make a point of following some form of structure in life.

After learning about Central’s hours, Rajiv was quick to suggest a picnic! In the park! So we sauntered to the nearby grocery store and purchased what tickled our fancies and headed to a small park.

Rajiv and I with our measly picnic, consisting of a tub of organic mango ice cream, spicy salmon sandwich, rice crispy squares from Starbucks, Gatorade, and Rajiv’s meal purchased from some sketch restaurant along Bloor St that sold laxative tea bags

Rajiv and I with our measly picnic, consisting of a tub of organic mango ice cream, spicy salmon sandwich, rice crispy squares from Starbucks, Gatorade, and Rajiv’s meal purchased from some sketch restaurant along Bloor St that sold laxative tea bags

Rajiv and I with our measly picnic, consisting of a tub of organic mango ice cream, spicy salmon sandwich, rice crispy squares from Starbucks, Gatorade, and Rajiv’s meal purchased from some sketch restaurant along Bloor St that sold laxative tea bags

After maybe an hour (or two) of discussing about everything under the sun, including Rajiv’s dilemma of applying to med school and becoming a doctor, we decided to wrap it all up. Feeling unsatisfied with his ramblings, Rajiv decides to phone a friend to remind him of a time when he ever said anything deep and profound. Unfortunately, the friend was only able to whip out a story of Rajiv eating pizza crusts off the ground.

But in the end, I still thought it would be fun to send Oh No Forest Fires a questionnaire. So, I did!

Who are you and what do you do?
We are Oh No Forest Fires from Toronto, Ontario, and we play rock music sometimes mixed with other kinds of music! My name is Rajiv Thavanathan and I play the guitar and sing.

How would you describe your music?

We have previously described our sound as “guitarded” but other people have said we sound like “guitar driven indie pop” or “guitar destroyers of the future” and things of that nature. It’s poppy rock music with moments of noise and dissonance and most of the time it’s pretty damn loud. Adam (drums) hits really hard. Ouch.

Name 3 artists that have a major impact on your sound.

I would saaaaaay, I don’t know. The Band. Cap’n Jazz. Wintersleep. That’s three right? There’s gazillions!

What’s your favourite song to perform?
Hmmm I wouldn’t say I/we have a favourite. Actually maybe we do. Right now we have this new song that is tentatively titled “Who Will Curl Our Hair When Our Hairdresser is Gone?” and it’s really fun to play at practice AND at shows. So actually yeah, that one. I’ll record it soon, I’m sure.

How do you go about your day?

My day is much less structured than most peoples. I wake up and after that who knows, I might do some of my part-time-job’s work on my computer, I might play guitar, I might record some demos, I might cook, I might get drunk with a friend, I might drive to Barrie/Montreal/Buffalo, I might play with my cat, I might sit and read, I might drink too much coffee and throw up. There’s a million options really hahaha I guess to answer your question “haphazardly” is probably the best description.

If you were an animal, what would you be?
People keep saying I look like a lion/bear/werewolf. Something hairy. So maybe that. But I’d love to be a dog. I’m incredibly loyal, and I like doing absolutely anything ESPECIALLY licking people. I think the band could be a pack of dogs. Dogs with ADD.

Which do you prefer: baths or showers?
Shower. No question. Who BATHES. LAAAAME.

What do you usually do before a show?
I don’t have any pre-show traditions really, usually I’ll stretch for a bit. Probably have a glass of scotch or something. Usually the guys will get some food, like a slice of pizza or something, but I can’t do that or I’ll throw up while playing.

When was the last time you purchased an album? What was it?
The last album I purchased was by a band called Telekinesis, I think it’s self titled. It’s really good.

What’s currently in your CD player/turntable?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Television, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Hollerado, Fox Jaws, Sheryl Crow, Wilco and that song by The Verve Pipe “The Freshman”.

Describe your best tour memory.
Probably our northern Ontario tour. On top of a pole dancing stripper contest that we had vs. The Ghost Is Dancing, we ended up passing out in a parking lot. And then, the next night in Sudbury we played an all-ages show at a ski lodge and talked to little children as we were all hungover and then afterwards we got locked in at the ski hill and had to wait in the dark by ourselves until someone from the city let us out. And then I ended up molesting a cat. That was all pretty funny.

Describe your first concert memory.
I think the first big show I saw was the band Live (think “lightning crashes”) in St. John’s. It was pretty fun I guess. I think that’s it. WAIT! That’s a lie, I totally saw Fred Penner when I was a kid. THAT SHIT WAS AAAAWESOME.

If you weren’t a musician today, what alternate dream job would you have?

I would be a Doctorb!!!! (not a typo, I said Doctorb).

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Vanilla. I’m boring. Or secretly, I want to be white.

If you were stuck in a deserted island with no one else but your band mates, who would you eat first?

Matt Del Buono. No question about it. Although Brock’s leaner, so he’d probably taste better. But yeah, Matt.

Have you seen the SUMMERWORKS window display at Soundscapes?

Ain't it Pretty

Ain't it Pretty