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The must-see season: A guide to summer's hottest cultural events Add to ...

SummerWorks Festival, Toronto

Aug. 9-19

Toronto’s indie theatre festival hit a few funding bumps, but has come out the other side of high-profile controversy with its reputation intact. It’s still a one-stop shopping spot for artistic directors across the country, the place to catch next season’s hits. This year’s lineup features more heavy hitters among the unknowns than ever before with new works by playwrights Waawaate Fobister, Rosa Laborde, Anton Piatigorsky – and even Siminovitch Prize winner Daniel MacIvor. It hasn’t been announced yet, but SummerWorks will also offer an opportunity to see (and hear) a sneak peek of Juno-winning singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman’s new musical that is set to premiere in Calgary in the winter, The God That Comes ( summerworks.ca).

The Taming of the Shrew

Bard on the Beach, Vancouver

May 31 to Sept. 22

Acclaimed actress Meg Roe ( The Penelopiad) directs Shakespeare’s notoriously sexist comedy in the expanded theatre tent in Vanier Park. Lois Anderson plays Kate, while John Murphy is the shrew tamer, Petruchio. Also on the Bard on the Beach bill: Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor and the rarely performed King John (the latter directed by Dean Paul Gibson). Indeed, the growing Vancouver summer theatre is actually showing more Shakespeare than the Stratford Shakespeare Festival this year for the first time ( bardonthebeach.org).

Caravan Farm Theatre

Armstrong, B.C.

July 26 to Aug. 26

Caravan Farm Theatre’s been around for 25 years now, offering professional theatre staged all over an 80-acre farm (where you can also purchase local produce on certain Sundays) – from the barn to the fields to the riding ring. This year’s summer musical offering sounds like a B.C. twist on Bonny and Clyde. Sean Dixon’s The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride concerns a would-be newspaperwoman who escapes a one-horse town with a handsome bank robber. Music is written and performed by Vancouver alt-country veteran Herald Nix. Outdoors – rain or shine, just the way they like it on the West Coast ( caravanfarmtheatre.com).

Die Roten Punkte: Eurosmash!

The Cultch, Vancouver

Aug. 28 to Sept. 2

What better way to wind up the summer than to rock it out with ersatz Berlin band Die Roten Punkte? If you’re a fan of Spinal Tap and Flight of the Conchords, then this brother-sister band that started as a parody of the White Stripes and has outlived them may float your das boot. Otto and Astrid Rot are actually Australian comics Daniel Tobias and Clare Bartholomew, but the following that their alter-egos has amassed, with songs like Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am a Lion), is real. On their last stint at the Cultch, The Vancouver Sun called the duo a “minor masterpiece of performance art.” Well, they’re a fun time, anyway ( thecultch.com).


By Paula Citron

Canada Dance Festival, Ottawa

June 8-16

This is the Big Kahuna of Canadian dance, and is truly a gathering of the clan, not to mention presenters and producers. The festival is a chance for companies to show their work in a national forum, and a great performance can lead to touring. In truth, producer Jeanne Holmes has to do the well-known Canadian juggling act of regional balance, but the invitees include top-drawer icons such as Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, Toronto Dance Theatre and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. CDF is also the home of world premieres that include new works from Aszure Barton & Artists, Fortier Danse Création, Le fils d’Adrien danse and 605 Collective ( canadadance.ca).

The Tornado Project: Spiraling Forces Festival, Regina

New Dance Horizons

June 27-30

On June 30, 1912, an F4 tornado hit Regina leaving 28 dead, hundreds injured, 500 buildings damaged and 2,500 people homeless. This freebie festival commemorates that tragedy. The Red Shoes Project is the opening event, and volunteers have been rehearsing for three months. Created by Robin Poitras, Jeanne Pelletier and Yvonne Chartrand, the procession will dance down a yellow brick road designed by visual artist Gary Varro. Breath of the Universe premieres on June 29. This homage to the prairie wind, choreographed by Poitras, Margie Gillis and Susan McKenzie, to an original score by Gordon Monahan, uses the metaphor of flowing silk dresses that billow and twist ( newdancehorizons.ca).

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