Paprika Does Double Digits

Paprika Does Double Digits

10th Anniversary Celebration

November 28th

Watch the Trailer!

a collection of work from the past ten years, performed by current

participants, artists, alumni and friends of the Festival

Work by Performances by

Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman

Emily Sugerman

Anthony Furey

Andrew Lamb

Evan Vipond

Damien Atkins

Jonathan Blankenstein

Jajube Mandiela

Johnnie Walker

Judith Thompson

Kanika Ambrose

Julia Lederer

Rong Fu

Marjorie Chan

Rosamund Small

Morgan Norwich

Sara Farb

Susan Coyne

Veronica Tennant

…and many more!

Nina Arsenault: ‎”When I was 10 years old my best friend was a girl who turned out to be a boy. Now that’s hot.” Check out this link:


Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

30 Bridgman Ave. (One block north of Dupont & Bathurst)

Reception at 7pm Performance at 8pm

For tickets, call the Tarragon Box Office at 416.531.1827

Finding some answers / Losing some answers

So, looking at where we are, what got us here and what’s to come: I thought I would share some thoughts on this early holiday morning.

As a young person, I am struggling to get a grasp upon the infinite amounts of information flying at me, or by me from day to day. The politics, the crimes and the disasters in the news seem removed from my experience yet they are the focal point of every onlooker around me. There are countless perspectives serving up countless opinions upon the same issues. My own opinions fall flat against the myriad of voices blaring loud. And what are the platforms we have to hear these voices? What looks like the most popular platform today only allows you 140 characters to express it, plus another 140, plus another 140 and then some. No one wants to read more than they have to. I am finding it exhausting to read even a full article, what’s wrong with me!

This weekend alone we saw an alarming stab at arts and funding for the arts in this city. A major news source, a major voice in this city called out this Festival for supporting a show that sympathizes with a terrorist. My immediate response was shock and disgust, but in after thought I wonder if I should be surprised by this at all? The issue at hand is a work of sensitive subject matter given how close it is to home, but going beyond the content and looking at the opposition to the arts in general seems truly frightening.

I think it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of those who would much rather do without the arts. Their priorities live elsewhere and who’s to say they should care about what goes on in this Festival? They don’t care, at least not until an article like this rubs salt in their wounds. There are plenty of services that deserve improved funding across this country and unfortunately the arts often face the guillotine first. As an artist I am biased in this discussion. I struggle to understand anyone who could spread such hatred towards this practice, but just as equally I desperately want to know more about their perspective. Hey if I can figure out the antagonist to what I do, I will improve what I do, if that makes any sense at all…

It’s too bad that this bizarre article came out just as we entered a summer long-weekend when thousands have fled to their cottages. Despite the negativity of this article I truly believe this is a critical reminder for any artist or supporter of the arts that we cannot sit back on our achievements and hope for the best. I hope that this article is not forgotten too quickly in the laziness of a hot summer. It would be a shame for many not to use this as fuel for a cause. For me it raises the question of why we feel the need to legitimize the art being created? Should we have to? Or maybe it is our responsibility to do this as citizens of a diverse community?

As I ride my bike up Bathurst street at midnight on a Sunday morning, I am reminded of our diversity, our connectedness. It’s a different night for everyone, from the girl heading to the Bovine, to the girl puking out front of Sneaky Dee’s, the frat boys getting a kick out of the old Chinese woman trying to pick their garbage for a living, the teenage couple screaming hate, to the teenage couple seeing the world as their own. I just want some sleep, an escape until tomorrow when I’ll want to take on the world again. Until someone writes another article that sparks my desire to prove the value of my work, I’ll keep observing.

“In the 300 years of our Industrial Age, this shallow history shouldn’t presume that we have all the answers.” Wade Davis


Just an hour outside T.O.

I have recently returned from an inspiring week at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. What I saw and engaged with at this Festival included plenty of great shows, workshops and panel discussions. This being my first time at Mag North, I didn’t quite know what to expect, although I suppose many don’t quite know what to expect as it exists in a different city from year to year. My god the logistics of planning a Festival that travels across Canada must be mind blowing, but hats off to them. I took a lot in over the time I was there, maybe even too much. I don’t think I got more then 4 hours of sleep per night, especially upon the lovely Waterloo residence beds we were put up in… but that’s beside the point.

This Festival really pulls together members of the theatre industry from across Canada to sit together and discuss what is currently impacting the state of theatre. The Industry Series was a great learning experience for me from the discussions to the pitch sessions. The pitch sessions included several exciting works such as Nina Arsenault’s Silicone Diaries in association with Buddies in Bad Times and Yichud (Seclusion) by Convergence Theatre in association with Theatre Passe Muraille. Definitely a Toronto-centric group of artists and companies on hand, which might be simply due to our proximity to Kitchener/Waterloo.  I should note that you can catch Nina Arsenault in I was Barbie at this year’s SummerWorks. If you haven’t seen a work by Nina before then you need to catch this show! I was really amazed at how theatrical the pitches were, they included staged excerpts and creative presentations, all very entertaining and effective. Whether each is successful at picking up a tour out of this,  I haven’t a clue, but they deserve credit for the amount of work put in.

Overall the Festival had a great vibe, from the theatres to the bar. Many artists, young and old seemed to find a way to connect. I really appreciated the openness of some more veteran artists to take the time to chat. I was also intrigued by the way this Festival made use of the resources on hand in Kitchener and Waterloo. My producer brain saw how everything from local business sponsorship to subsidized food service and the utilization of volunteers helped this Festival succeed.

To name a few, some shows to keep your eyes out for are definitely The Greatest Cities in the World by Theatre Replacement, The Last 15 Seconds by The MT Space & Dedicated to the Revolutions by Small Wooden Shoe.

My description of the experience barely paints the full picture, but I hope this gives you a sense of what you can expect if you choose to go in 2011. It’ll be back in Ottawa, so maybe that’s an excuse to go!


Wha happen’d?

So here’s the deal with what happened to the Performance Gallery at SummerWorks. It’s no longer the Performance Gallery, but instead we’re creating something even  more spectacular that, at present, we’re dubbing the “Performance Pavilion”. This is all going to be going down at the Lower Ossington Theatre: kind of like a hub for the Festival.  I can’t say too much about the specifics, but I can give you a sense of what to expect.

On one floor alone of the LOT you will be able to experience interactive art installations along with games and regular art happenings, created by designers and facilitated by a team of artists. In addition to this our Music Series (which use to be at the Theatre Centre) will be in the LOT Theatre space itself, every night, a different band. On the ground level below the theatre, we’re making use of a new space where you can witness a nightly cabaret series. We already have some stellar artists lined up each night of the Festival to hit the cabaret stage.

It’s unfortunate to see the Performance Gallery go, but we’re not letting this get us down. We’re continuing to bring in more artists into new and exciting environments that we expect will continue to evolve over time.

There will be plenty more info to come soon, but you’ll just have to wait and see!


this Festival is getting some legs!

Things are beginning to take off here at SummerWorks. Tomorrow is the All-Company Meeting where everyone will get to meet in person for the first time this year. We will be distributing the Festival schedule, venue assignments and technical packages. It’s quite a task keeping track of each company, but its nice to know everyone is working to make this Festival as strong as it can be.

The shows we have on board this year are very exciting as they represent a vast array of Canadian artists from across this country. It’s also nice to see a mix of younger emerging artists side by side with more established pros.

There’s also a ton of ancillary programming to go along with this year’s fest. We have some amazing artists on board to create, manage and facilitate these new initiatives which I think are fitting given that this makes 20 years of operation for SummerWorks.

So keep your eyes and ears peeled cause lots of new stuff will be announced soon.

If you want a sneak preview you better check out our launch party on June 5th at the Lower Ossington. This is going to be a sexy night with some hot theatre and music artists!


Lots to see and do!

An exciting project that you must go see is Volcano Theatre’s Africa Trilogy, to be presented at Luminato June 10 – 20. This is a comprehensive project examining the relationship between Africa and the West from three different points of view.

What is really moving about this project is that its development extends far beyond the primary 3  playwrights and 3 directors at its creative core. It has undergone numerous workshop stages since its launch back in 2007. By today it has drawn upon the resources of artists and companies across nearly every continent making it not just Volcano’s show but a show by many voices: a total of 11 performers in all and numerous designers & producers.  The sense of community around putting this thing on its feet is really unique and I believe stands as a model for creative development.

There will even be a two day workshop on June 19th & 20th entitled inForming Content in which young artists will gather to discuss the nature of ethics with post-graduate students  from the Centre for Ethics  at UofT. The lectures given by these experts will act  as a jumping off point for the participants to create small performances all within 48 hours. I’m thrilled to say that I will be one of these participants.

If you want to keep up with the community surrounding this project, from wordpress to  wordpress, visit:

The content of this blog is stellar.

’til next time,



Working for SummerWorks thus far has been quite a learning experience. Each day is a new hurdle to face, some more challenging than others. It requires me to be self-motivating to complete tasks and to be creative in order to problem solve.  Because there are so few on staff it is almost like a juggling act that Michael and I play. There are always several things he and I toss back and forth. Sometimes I am amazed that anything is completed as efficiently as it is, but we always seem to pull it off.

There is also no one more awesome to hang with than Lindy, who will fill your mind with plenty to think about. She’s been something like a coach for me since beginning with SummerWorks. I’m fortunate to get her help whenever she has time in her crazy schedule.

What I am beginning to recognize about this Festival is its strong sense of community. Michael is always attempting to foster new relationships with local community members. This is rubbing off on me.  Continually I am encountering artists, producers, administrators across multiple disciplines who share a common place within Toronto. We each struggle with similar issues in regards to producing our art.

Never was this more prevalent to me than it was at the recent UnConference on the performing arts in Toronto. I felt an almost surreal sensation being in a room of 50 people passionate about arts in this city. What made it even more enlightening was that we each made up one part of a whole. A question that one could not answer, another in the room could. It was a bizarre sensation that there would potentially be someone in that room with you who had the answer to the question you had been pursuing for months without success. At times the discussions felt tedious, but it was at least a dialogue and  hopefully further actions will be pursued from some of the subject matter that was dealt with.

That idea of being in a room with people you don’t know, but who can offer a wealth of information is not anything new. We encounter this in our very existence walking down the street. The only barrier is that we often refuse to speak to strangers. It’s unfortunate when more often than not, we share a common thread somewhere, of course we rarely have the time to try and find it.

At least at the UnConference we were given some time, a day in fact. Sure enough I was delighted to find myself in a room with 4 people, all from overseas, who were suddenly talking about the usefulness of Viewpoints as a composition tool. I was sharing in a common language with these strangers based on our shared knowledge around this technique. To the others in the room, we weren’t speaking English, but we, the 4 of us, had at least found this common thread in our experience as theatre creators.

I want to leave this post with one final pair of questions:

What do we need to create?




If I were to remove “money” from this list, say it doesn’t exist, how then do we turn these other two needs into a non-issue?


Getting it Right

I like to believe that I do my very best to “get it right”, but I know that I don’t know myself well enough to know if I’m doing anything right at all. Of course “right” is subjective, it is one side of the political scale and it is also a direction aaand it is also one side of my body… “right” is a lot of things.  I could just not do anything at all and then no one could determine what I was getting right or wrong.  I could throw myself out into an audience and make an absolute ass of myself and just not care. Then it wouldn’t matter what anyone thought… but I guess I’m still giving them a thought to have.

Why do I fear putting myself out there? Sometimes I feel content sitting at home folding paper and addressing envelopes. I know I can get this right. No one can judge the unknown. Actually you can judge the unknown. You can determine that whatever is unknown is unlikable because it won’t reveal itself, so you hate it. Fuck you unknown! Ah shucks unknown, you also excite me, you’re kind of what keeps me going each day. If I actually knew everything I would just give up and hang myself. There would be no need to keep searching for something new. I’d know it all, I’d know the course of my life, who I might fall in love with, where we’d live, where we’d die.

Instead I don’t know these things and I am happy to let life lead me by the nose. I can also create expectation in others by setting up other unknowns. Theatre is my tool for this. I can excite people by giving them just enough that they want more. I can play with lights and sound and performance. People want to see people. They want to see all the things in the human experience on display to remind them that they are normal. It’s reassuring to know that someone likes the same book, or the same pair of shoes. That’s who I’ll probably fall in love with…


Rituals at the Theatre

I see a lot of theatre in any given month. My personal habit is to arrive early and hit up the lobby bar for a coffee and probably a cookie. Not all theatres have very good coffee or even good cookies, I won’t name names, but you know who you are.  In any case I will buy willingly because it’s partly a habit and somehow I feel like I’m contributing to the theatre, even though I dropped $40 on the tickets! Another reason for this tradition of mine is that it’s always fun to chug your coffee when the ushers start urging you to take your seat. I like competing with the guy next to me who has to finish a whole beer. I know that my buzz will last longer than his and he’ll likely fall asleep by intermission.  It’s too bad coffee is hot because this makes it difficult to drink quickly …hook it to my veins!  …this is, of course, my symptom in a culture of consumption, which I’ll bring up again shortly.

What am I talking about? A little ritual. This coffee and cookie thing is my ritual before and/or during the show. Some people show up early to get a good seat and read the entire program. Others show up as late as possible to avoid the awkward silence. Some, I’m sure, don’t give rituals more than a thought, which is where I take issue. Even though my ritual is relatively insignificant, I’m consciously thinking about the nature of our behaviour at an event as public as theatre. It’s not like going to the movies where no one can see you in the dark of a cinema sucking back that super-size cola and snorting M&M’s. Theatre is so public that it explains why many people likely don’t come to see theatre, or other live cultural events, it takes effort… shit.  I’m not going to belabour the various facets of live theatre versus other forms of entertainment, but I do want to talk about the lost rituals of our community.

Art seems to be such a marginal aspect of many people’s lives. Our culture in North America doesn’t set a lot of value in the production of art as a necessary activity. It’s poorly discarded as a freakin hobby when it needs to be seen as a necessary aspect of living. If we had a better connection with the land we live on, we might feel more inspired to create art for survival. If only we could follow art as faithfully as we might follow a religion, then it wouldn’t be taken for granted. I’m saying this with the assumption that we all, somehow, subscribe to a single culture, when clearly North America is made up of thousands of cultures. I’m taking issue specifically with our culture of consumption. What are the things that excite and fascinate us that we feel we must consume? This culture is about consuming whatever can be sold to us, which is easy because we generate the demand.

So what happened to the culture of ritual practice? Something I am dreaming up, where we don’t have time for excessive consumption, but instead we focus our energy in taking part in a ritual. How about the ritual of seeing live performance? It requires a community to come together to witness stories about themselves and otherness. It’s a learning experience where everyone feels comfortable in public. The tradition here might be to sing a song or do a dance before the show, or maybe just to sit and discuss something. It certainly sounds more appealing to me than buying a coffee and cookie to get me through the long darkness of theatre today.