THE BLOG

The Arts Festival You've Dreamed Of But Don't Know About

08/14/2014 01:50 EDT | Updated 10/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Not a day goes by that I don't receive a phone call, text or email from someone asking what is new and fresh to go see in the arts. "C'mon Marce, give me the goods," is a common ask.

Reasons are anything from, "got to impress this girl I am dating," "need to break out of the same thing," "heard this was inspired by something in Barcelona," "want to be tested creatively and emotionally," and my personal favourite, "I like actors. They are hot. I would like to date one."

Gotcha.

Whatever one's reason is, audiences love things they feel they have discovered. By accident or not, it's kind of like a badge. And however this is used, or communicated, it's a great thing for audiences to leave an experience feeling like they have never seen anything like that before. Some will want to share this with co-workers at a water cooler, some will write a gushing post on Facebook, and some will just want to tell their best friend. Whatever the response, this work had a transformative memorable effect on them with both artists and audiences growing from the experience.

Now, there is a festival that is going on right now that delivers on all of this. Sounds intriguing, eh?

The SummerWorks Performance Festival is wowing audiences as we speak. Originating in 1991, it is indeed the largest juried and curated performance festival in Canada. Yes, in this whole nation.

This is a big deal.

And the great thing is that you will be surprised each and every time. This 11-day festival is presenting new works, many of which seem like a bit of an experiment. Innovative ways of presenting theatre, dance, music and live art challenge audiences and artists alike like no other time of the year. There is a sense of the birth of new ways, new stories, new artists that is very rare and appealing.

Sounds amazing, eh? Now, have you heard of it?

My guess is not that many of you have. And that is truly unfortunate. This is a festival that does not have the marketing budgets of some of the big guns, and also happens at a time when a lot of audiences seem to focusing on August "get out of dodge" type thinking.

So perhaps read below and get inspired to, um, stay in dodge if you will this weekend and catch some brilliant work.

We had the fortune of having a few minutes with Michael Rubenfeld, who is the Artistic Producerof The SummerWorks Performance Festival.

His insights are telling and inspiring.

How have you approached curating this year's festival that may be different from past ones?

We've welcomed a lot more dance into the Festival. We're spending a lot of time thinking about how to continue to diversify.

There is the first ever text to donate campaign. Explain.

We increased support for artists the last two years ago, adding more technical time and an additional performance. This has cost us a lot more money and in order to sustain a high level of support, we are turning to our patrons, those who know and understand the value of SummerWorks, for some help.

You write in your program welcome note that this year, "...existential curiosities (will be) explored by SummerWorks artists." Explain.

Being alive is complex and we tend to program work that explores the nature of the human condition -- which is wrapped up is existential questions.

Your home base is the new Theatre Centre this year. What is your goal with this?

To have a long-term home base here for the Festival. Its a marvelous new building with an incredible, supportive staff. We want to develop and build a long, loving relationship so that we can be here forever.

There is big hype around the Music Series and how you partnered musicians with artists to create collaborative musical projects. What is the process to make this happen?

I work with music curators to bring musicians to the Festival. I then meet with the musicians to get a sense of their interests, personality, aesthetics, etc so that I can then consider who to partner them with. I will then propose certain artists to the musicians as potential collaborators. They meet with the artist, and if it feels like the right match, they then begin their artistic relationship which culminates in some of the most fascinating evenings of performance we have each year at the Festival.

Some of our readers don't know how to "do SummerWorks." Can you help?

Everything at SummerWorks is curated. This means a lot of work has gone into considering what we will present at the Festival -- so unlike other larger Festivals that are chosen randomly, art is at the centre of all the decision made here. So go online and take a look around. We program theatre, music, dance and live art. Its all interesting and very diverse. Read the descriptions and know that there is something for everyone. If one piece doesn't appeal to you, another will. You can also get discount three, seven or 10 performance passes -- I encourage you to see multiple things.

So there you go. Going to this festival is not taking a chance. It's actually going to make you the coolest cat around when you tell your friends about what you experienced.

Now, how is that for 15 bucks?

The SummerWorks Performance Festival continues through August 17. For all show and ticket information, go to the SummerWorks website here.