SummerWorks festival returns for another packed month of theatrics across Toronto

Looking for artistic experiences that are both safe and boundary-pushing? SummerWorks has you covered with its annual Performance Festival running throughout August. Collaborating with an existing roster of diverse artists and artistic groups who experiment with and expand upon alternatives to traditional theatre, SummerWorks has re-imagined its programming to adapt to the new rules of COVID-19. The organization, which offers year-round content that seeks to nurture innovation and reflect the complexity of society, presents a lineup of thought-provoking, daring and engaging performances — all free to the public.

Here’s what’s on now during SummerWorks’ Performance Festival:

Health & Safety Notes

Throughout the month of August, new installations are continually added to this interactive art experience that seeks to help people remember, be seen and communicate their anxieties — and their hopes — in the age of COVID-19. Artist Mark Reinhart’s colourful oversized messages, which appear in duct tape on the sides of public and private buildings around Queen Street West, are both bold and intimate. Created in collaboration with the Parkdale community, including its organizations and residents, this temporary display allows participants to engage communally with live art at safe physical distances.

July 27-Aug. 31 | Parkdale & Queen Street West | Accessible | Free

We Were, We Are, We Will Be 

In this co-presentation with SummerWorks and Canadian Stage, Daniele Bartolini and Luke Reece of Mixtape Curations have curated a week of digital and analog performances that touch upon our past, present and future in times of pandemic. Multi-disciplined artists from myriad genres offer opportunities to connect and imagine — safely — from private to public spaces. Participating artists include Alina Pete, D’bi Young Anitafrika, Jennifer Alicia, O’Shane Howard, Rory de Brouwer, Chris Dodd, Melody McKiver, Esie Mensah and Eponine Lee. There are varying levels of experience the audience can choose from depending on comfort level, and each of the week’s three installations (The Past, The Present and The Future) can be enjoyed on its own, or as an anthology performance.

Aug. 18-23 | Various locations | Accessible, captioned, ASL by request | Free, registration required


Undertow is a collection of short films by The Artists Mentoring Youth (AMY) Project, which provides accessible arts training programs for women and non-binary youth from equity-seeking communities. Featuring themes of self-growth, healing and navigation in response to COVID restrictions, Undertow is written and performed by Fatima Adam, Zeinab Ahmed, Jericho Allick, Taranjot Bamrah, Rhysand Bruzzo, Juju Dawkins, Shanice Hart, Carvela Lee, Victoria Paredes Sánchez and Tameka Peynado. A live screening takes place Aug. 26th at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A — registration required. The films will be available for download the following day with a provided password (see link for details). Please note there are discussions of racism, colonialism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia in the films.

Aug. 26, 27-29 | Zoom, Vimeo | Captioned, ASL provided | Free, registration required

Metamorphosis: A Viral Trilogy

Metamorphosis is a series of three fictional audio diaries written by award-winning local author André Alexis. Follow along with 13-year-old Lucretia, 30-year-old Kerri and 86-year-old Nella as they experience loneliness, expansion and acceptance in the wake of a global pandemic. Episode two, featuring Kerri, is available for streaming on the SummerWorks website starting Aug. 24. Episode 3 will stream a week later, on Aug. 31st, and a transcript of each episode will be made available on the day of release. If you missed Episode one, which streamed on Aug. 17, you can still listen to it at

Aug. 17, 24, 31 | Audio recording | Transcribed | Free

End of Summer Mix

A unique way to mark the end of summer, this curated digital collection of recipes, playlists, crafts, activities and “provocations” is available for download, for free, starting Aug. 29th. Experience content at your own pace and within your own comfort bubble. SummerWorks’ End of Summer Mix involves regular contributors, as well as new collaborators, on this one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary offering as part of their Public Works programming, with a mandate to bring artists and audiences together in the public sphere to experience our city in new ways.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO