As you know bringing together artist’s visions is a whole lot more than simply asking them to come in during an allotted ten day span. A huge amount of planning, thought, strategy, fundraising, agony and joy are braided into this tapestry that eventually becomes The SummerWorks Theatre Festival.
We are in the thick of the organizing part. Some of it has been sprinkled with creative epiphanies and deep laughs, acknowledging a sigh of exhaustion, and satisfaction after a long day of work.
The past week and a half has been a whirlwind for me. My responsibilities have been mainly administrative. However, though it sounds dry, and ‘office like’ a word that brings terrifying images of cubicles to the free spirited hearts of artists, it has been anything but horrifying. I’ve gained a lot of solace in doing small deeds for a bigger vision that will enable the voices of other people to be displayed expressed and engaged in a discourse and conversation with an even wider span of audience members by August. It’s been wonderful to look over the titles of these shows, and the diversity of “blurbs” that have been produced. P.S SO MANY of the companies include water imagery in their company names or play titles. It’s fantastic. (Maybe a little Halifax missing part of me is hoping that psychically Halifax will never let me go…so thanks all you companies for using water imagery, what an infinitely versatile thing to write about!). Regardless, I wonder what the water imagery is all about this year. Maybe we can have a chat about it over a beverage at the Launch.
Our VIP Dinner guest list is growing. So is our silent auction donor list. Honestly, I feel a bit like a hostess at King and John (and I’m not being hyperbolic here because I have been one) when I call people, and try to give them my sincerest explanation of the festival, and why it is important to contribute to such events, and it does feel a little disenchanting when people do not trust your sincerity, because, we are in a world where business and the sentimental world have become divorced, or are a forbidden couple. However, I did try my best. I managed to snag some dresses (I think), and some extra things beyond vouchers to theatre, which we know our crowd will appreciate, but I think it will be nice to have a variety of things to peruse, and imagine in your home, on your table, in your possession should you have the means and generosity to bid on it.
Yesterday was exciting. We saw the skeleton of our event space for The Launch on the 18th. Currently it is in its normal state, grey cement, with potted flowers, a mural of Palestine (according to Michael) which has a beautiful accident of vines growing across it, which coincidentally match the vines on the actual mural, it’s like Palestine is reaching towards us, perhaps the venue is begging us to help it burst to life, to become three dimensional, to be bridged by moving people, with the static and lovely bones of the space (hence the metaphor given before about the skeleton, though garish as a metaphor sometimes it is effective when trying to express the, ‘adding on’ to become a ‘living moving body’ entity idea) (Ready to become alive like the mural in the MOCCA Courtyard). Anyways, I may be heady for 10:24am, but I am just trying to be as honest as I can when it comes to recording.
Just so you know, Joanna and Michael are a fantastic pair to be around, I think it would be very wise for you to attend the Launch just to be in their company. The first thing I am going to do with this blog, before I move onto the second thing (alas, I have become redundant, but please, be patient, for some of you who are reading this I have lovingly and patiently gone over your press packs, re-read your performance times, dates, etc;) be patient with my words, though they are long, perhaps if you saw how big I am you’d see it as compensation, or that I am some charming forgetful run on sentence, but anyways, I really want to describe how joyful it will be for you to meet them both, or become acquainted with them as they grow into the fantastic Artistic Producer (Michael) and General Manager (Joanna) of SummerWorks 2011, well they already are fully these things, but, I think they both have chosen a festival of plays that is inspiring them to grow as administrators, I could see them both focus and stare at the MOCCA space thinking, how can we make this LAUNCH better than last year, for (themselves) and (for the art they are so excited to showcase) and (for the wonderful people coming to support us on the 18th). It’s like watching eyes looking into the sky of an invisible equation that needs to be solved. Except instead of just numbers: with vibrant performers, delicious foods, dancing, and a well organized beautiful time. Perhaps those were the meanings behind the elusive X’s in our SummerWork’s algebra equations. Who knows. (p.s I never thought I’d write algebra again in a sentence after having studied liberal arts for four years, haha, a pleasant surprise).
Some charming moments I’ve had at the office, that were painfully human and moving might help you gain insight into this endearing bunch, and may inspire you to come to the Launch if you were a ‘may be attending’ person on our facebook event, c’mon it’s Joanna and Michael and they are fantastic individuals that are pumping their visions through this festival of ours. These little anecdotes from the office may convince you.
Charming Scenario One (I think my first day). Hearing Joanna talk in a British accent to our printer Billy, by the way, if you ever come and visit he does prefer to be addressed by name, and discussing how we both have a tendency to personify everything, even objects, and by ‘personify’ because we do know language is limited, we do not mean that something needs to be a ‘person’ to merit a ‘name’ or ‘care’, but that, every thing, even things that seem lifeless from far away carry a spirit, a personality, (see, ‘person’ can’t really be divorced from this conversation while using English, but, I’ll try my best to describe it anyways…). Hearing Joanna’s booming and vivacious laugh during that conversation is enough to make me realize that though I have enjoyed my time so much with her I know she is some one many people love, her effusive personality is infectious, I know you all are incredibly lucky to meet her, work with her, or just meet her for the first time because you are curious about the art that will be developed, performed, and showcased by SummerWorks. So Joanna is one of the big reasons why you should attend the Launch this Saturday the 18th at MOCCA. Even if it’s just a hello, she will be busy, I promise, but she will be joyful anyways, because, that’s Joanna.
Charming Scenario Two (Probably my second or third day). Meeting Michael. The guy who’s everywhere and elusive and responds rapidly and sporadically, he’s kind of like the electron in Michael Frayne’s Copenhagen, though more charming and not the answer to preventing an atomic bomb crisis (thank goodness). He is also incredibly passionate. He does exactly what an artistic director should do, as soon as he came in he was 1000% focused, aware, and ready to learn about me personally before we started, so, not only is he leading one of the biggest theatre festival’s in Canada, he is also compassionate. We had a fantastic and hurried talk (because I was more worried about wasting time), about Miriam Teows (her book a Complicated Kindness was woven in my hands when he entered the office), and poked fun at the fact that I know nothing about some of the biggest Toronto stage actors right now, which is true, I have spent the last four years luxuriating in the King’s Theatrical Society Theatre (in Halifax NS), and stuffing my nose in continental philosophy books, so, though he was initially shocked about my lack of knowledge, he demonstrated a patience for me that I was very moved by, and he kept working with me imposing not even an ounce of condescension. Michael could be a lot more impatient with everyone, since he’s worked as an actor for years, and is leading an incredibly exciting and vital part of Toronto’s Theatre Scene, but ultimately he just wants to be present to what is said, and what needs to be shared, and how to make it work best for those in the conversation: sounds like the kind of personality also, that would be a delight to meet at the Launch. Your festival is in great hands. I promise you.
I guess this will be a pleasant surprise for my supervisors, or perhaps, too sentimental (mildly embarrassing), because, my first task was supposed to be a slight summary of the Artistic Directors that will be auctioned off during the Launch. What I promise to do later tonight is a description of exactly what to expect at our launch, the bios (brief) of the Artistic Directors and what you could potentially win from the Silent Auction and the Live Auction, and ultimately how all of these things will form a stunning night that cannot be missed.
The heart beat of SummerWorks is loud and evanescent this year. You only need to look at the wonderful people who are leading it to know that should you choose to be involved it won’t be long before their electric pulse finds you.
We will speak later today again.
Hannah E. Rittner
The current Intern for June.
Also here is some music, I really love music and find it a wonderful way to be transported into a world. This song reminds me of what SummerWorks has been like for me thus far.