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Posts tagged ‘2016 Summerworks performance festival’

One-on-One with Sasha Singer-Wilson, co-creator of “Inside” at SummerWorks 2016

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina Silver Baird: How and why did you decide to create a one-on-one site-specific piece? What does this approach offer you that traditional theatre doesn’t?

Sasha Singer-Wilson: I am interested in revitalizing the audience/participant experience and I love creating performance in unlikely places. How can we, as theatre artists, employ an audience in our ephemeral art form? With Netflix so seductively calling from my laptop, this nature of performance offers transformational magic that I am hungry for, both as a maker and as an audience member. If I am hungry for it, I trust that others are too. With Inside, we invite our participants into an experience of close proximity and fly-on-the-wall connection, with the opportunity to witness performers in a private moment. The creation process is really unique – we build our characters and their “scores” out of interviews with our collaborators and then work slowly and organically from the kernels that stand out to us. It’s rewarding and super fun.

Shaina: What role does Cat and the Queen’s music play? Or is that a secret?

Sasha: Cat is an incredible multi-disciplinary performer. To find out how her musical skills are featured, which they are, you’ll have to come and see the show!

Photo of Cat Montgomery by Samantha Madely.

Photo of Cat Montgomery by Samantha Madely.

Shaina: Why create in theatre? Why not some other medium?

Sasha: Theatre is living and breathing. It is right here, right now. This confounds and energizes me. Theatre’s ability to gather people and give the gift of a shared experience is so powerful. Theatre’s subtlety and inherent transcendence bring grace.

Shaina: Why the name The Blood Projects?

Sasha: When Sarah Jurgens and I started creating together in 2009, we were interested in the connective tissue of stories and found our interest lay in work connected to family, to questions about life and death, and the intricacies of the human experience. We dug the idea of “projects” because we both identify as multi-disciplinary artists and wanted to create a home for whatever we made. Mostly, the blood projects makes immersive, intimate performance in unlikely places, but is interested in including film and video, musical experiences and photography.

Shaina: Describe “Inside” in 5 words:


home. heartbreak. birthday party. fly-on-the-wall. meditative.



Company – the blood projects/Cat and the Queen
Created by Cat Montgomery and Sasha Singer-Wilson with Tabby Johnson, Sarah Jurgens, Krista Mennell, Nadeem Phillip, Adrian Rebucas, Giovanni Spina, Heather Watts, and Jada White. Produced by the blood projects and Cat and the Queen.

Hi. Thank you for being interested in our show. We are Sasha and Cat. We make theatre and music. Join us and our friends on a series of eight site-specific one-on-one encounters in a secret location west-end apartment that ask who we are when we’re alone, at home.

We asked our collaborators a series of questions like “does the public presentation of yourself differ from the self you experience in private?”, “what’s one thing you’ll only do when you’re alone at home?”, and “if someone were to peek in on you, all alone, in your bedroom, what might they learn about who you truly are?” We built our piece around kernels of truth, dipped in fluorescent colours – a celebration of shared humanness in all its strangeness and simplicity and beauty. We hope you’ll join us.

Curator’s Note
“Am I most myself when I’m alone? If so, what does that say about me? Working with the available light of their site, the artists Inside offer us one to one encounters with(in) the privacy of others.” – Guillermo Verdecchia

Starting Location: Pia Bouman
6 Noble Street

Thursday August 4th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Thursday August 4th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Friday August 5th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Friday August 5th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Sunday August 7th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Sunday August 7th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Monday August 8th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Monday August 8th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Wednesday August 10th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Wednesday August 10th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Thursday August 11th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Friday August 12th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Friday August 12th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Friday August 12th 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 13th 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM

More Show Info:


web –
twitter – @bloodprojects
facebook – bloodprojects
instagram – @bloodprojects




NAKED LADIES: Critiques & Assumptions, Post-Show Conversations, and How It Doesn’t Get Easier – In Conversation with writer/performer Thea Fitz-James

by Bailey Green

Thea Fitz-James came into contact with naked art in university when she read Rebecca Schneider’s The Explicit Body in Performance. She created an explicit body piece and performed it for her class. When Fitz-James told her mother (over the phone, drunkenly, in Halifax, on Valentine’s Day) that she was doing this kind of art. Her mother without missing a beat said that women take their clothes off to forget about their fathers. “That assumption really stuck with me, this daddy issues assumption,” says Fitz-James. “That all women who choose to get naked are somehow doing it for an absent male in the room. So Naked Ladies is a combination of personal and academic.”

“The people who are mean to naked ladies are afraid for them,” Fitz-James says. “In the show, I talk about my mother and her criticisms [of Naked Ladies] which are totally valid and come from love. We’re in a really good place now.”

NakedLadies- 5

Naked Ladies began in December of 2014 as a 30 minute piece, part of a double bill at hub14 with theatre creator Andrew Gaboury who performed his piece totem. When Fitz-James was accepted to the 2015 Edmonton Fringe, she reached out to director Zoë Erwin-Longstaff who was immediately on board with the project. “We spent a lot of time tearing the script apart and writing new stuff, and though it is my writing, the development process was very collaborative,” Fitz-James says.

Naked Ladies has travelled to Edmonton Fringe, Cucalorus Film Festival, Adelaide Fringe and most recently to the Montreal Fringe this past June. When asked about the differences between each experience Fitz-James says, “Edmonton was very raw… there was a fresh-off-the-press kind of energy. In Adelaide I had to work harder to find my audience. It’s not just come see Naked Ladies, it’s come see my feminist solo show where I challenge your concepts about the way we imagine women.”

Naked Ladies 2 (1)

In Montreal, Fitz-James got to bring her piece home. “Naked Ladies is about the systematic abuse of women, it’s about the way we treat naked ladies — either putting them on pedestals and calling them goddesses or throwing them on the ground and calling them whores,” Fitz-James says. “So what was magical about being in Montreal was that was the site of so many of my young female abuses, things that I am now comfortable to call sexual assaults. And Montreal really picked up what I was putting down in a way no other Fringe has.”


After a year of shows, getting naked in front of an audience hasn’t gotten easier, Fitz-James says, it has gotten harder. “There’s assumptions about this show — that it’s sexy, that it’s therapy on stage, that’s it’s some sort of personal healing for me. That somehow it is easy to do this because I am a pretty white female,” Fitz-James says. “I address some of that in the show, that I’m white, and how this show would be an entirely different show if I was a black woman. But I’m not going to tell that show because it isn’t mine to tell. I would absolutely support that show. I would dramaturge it for free.”

Fitz-James emphasizes that though the show is about women it is important for men to bear witness as well, “If you’re worried about being that creepy guy who comes to see my show, don’t be! It’s very accessible.” Naked Ladies can be for anyone who has felt outside of their own body.

Production Image 3

It is the visceral response from audiences that has been the greatest gift for Fitz-James and it is what inspires her to continue performing the piece. “The way the play lives on has been in conversations with women, and men, after the show,” Fitz-James says. “And it isn’t always men, but it is mostly men who want to give me their comments, criticisms, change me, curate me […] I had a man tell me my pubic hair was an easy way out because it hides my labia. My experience is certainly not isolated, I think it is just heightened. I think any woman doing a solo female show experiences men trying to direct them. It’s heightened when you’re naked because all of those questions of representations are already there.”

SummerWorks may be the last bash for Naked Ladies, so you don’t want to miss it!


Directed by Zoë Erwin-Longstaff; Written and Performed by Thea Fitz-James; Projection and Lighting design by Remington North; Outside Eye by Arlen Aguayo Stewart; Stage Managed by Stephanie Taylor.

A layered history of naked female bodies in performance, NAKED LADIES asks tough questions around the nature of the female body and tries to understand its contested position between stigma and celebration. It brings together personal anecdotes – both traumatic and silly – alongside art history, feminist theory, and performance art, as the performer attempts a queer reckoning the/her own body. Between the naked and the nude, between forgetting fathers and remembering mothers, past sexual stigma and personal secrets, NAKED LADIES asks why women get naked on stage. Why, where, and for whom?

“This is a bold and brilliant one-woman show — filled with more questions than answers” ★★★★★ -Edmonton Journal

“Porn, porn porn porn, men want to f you, or any person they see naked, or did you miss that class in grade ten biology?” – Doreen Savoie, concerned citizen

“Maybe that’s what you are trying to do: reach through shame to seek worthiness? belonging? love? But why can’t you do one show that I can see?” – Thea’s mom

Curator’s Note
“Nekked. Oh yeah.
Bodies. They’ve been around all this time and we still don’t know what to do with them. Why do they still trouble us? Why do they still mean so much, and in so many ways! Smart. Honest. And funny.” – Guillermo Verdecchia

The Drake Underground
1150 Queen Street West

Thursday August 4th 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Friday August 5th 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Sunday August 7th 6:15 PM – 7:15 PM
Monday August 8th 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Thursday August 11th 5:15 PM – 6:15 PM
Friday August 12th 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

More Show Info:


web –
twitter – @theafitz


PLUCKED: Fear, Chickens and Bluegrass! In Conversation with director Carly Chamberlain

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

Shaina Silver-Baird: Based on the description on the SummerWorks webpage, I’m very intrigued, but know very little about what happens in the play itself. Tell me a bit, from your perspective, about the show.

Carly Chamberlain: The description is intentionally ambiguous because it’s actually an impossible play to describe without diminishing it in some way. Basically, it’s an absurd fable centered around a family farm. On this farm, for generations, the women have been turned into chickens by their fear. And in this world, eggs are extremely profitable – think thousands of millions of dollars. The men on the farm are trying to harvest these eggs in order to become millionaires.

The play all takes place on a single day during a period when there have been no chickens on the farm for twenty years. There are two women in the family: a mother and a daughter. The men (a father and a grandfather who has turned into a rooster), have been waiting for over 20 years for Abigail (the mother) to turn into a chicken.

The play starts on the morning that Abigail finally turns into a chicken, and that transformation sets a series of events in motion. For example, the daughter has promised herself that when her mom eventually turns into a chicken, she’s going to run away so that she doesn’t also turn into a chicken. Each scene is loosely an hour of the day as it progresses.

In a nutshell: Plucked is about fear turning women into chickens, and the men of the family making money off of that. It’s big and political, grappling with misogyny and patriarchy, but it’s also quite personal. We watch the cycles of generations in this family, repeating the same mistakes. It begs the question: is it even possible not to become our parents? The fear of that makes us lash out and try to control things we can’t actually control. 

Shaina: What role does the bluegrass music play in the show?

Carly: I wouldn’t classify this show as a musical, because I imagine musicals to be beautifully sung expressions of emotion. And that’s not what this is.

The rooster (otherwise known as the grandfather) is a character in the scenes but also a kind of MC/storyteller. There are often songs underscoring, or interrupting scenes. So the music plays a pretty chaotic role in the storytelling. The rhythm is quite fast, as all the characters are on stage the whole time, often popping out of character to play some kind of instrument. 

Shaina: Is it all original music?

Carly: No, all the songs are bluegrass standards that are quite old. The oldest one is called “Black Eyed Susie” and it’s impossible to know who originated it. These are standards that all the bluegrass greats have played. They’re really infectious.

I haven’t been sleeping very well, because I’ve had choruses playing on loop in my head as I lay in bed. They’re total earworms. 


Shaina: I understand that you and Rachel have collaborated before?

Carly: We met at the National Theatre School while I was studying as a director and she was studying as a playwright. We were paired together to create a 15 min play – I was directing and dramaturging her piece. That play was so challenging and so exciting. It was also far from realism. For example, the opening stage direction were:

“A giant fist makes its way through a groaning door in agony.”
~ Rachel Ganz

That was the set up! I’m a pretty cerebral person and I like planning and structure. And Rachel works from a really visceral, gutsy, imaginative place. She takes a lot of risks. So I think that’s actually why we work so well together. I find I’m able to bring some structure to her images. She’s a generous writer because she doesn’t tell you exactly how you should stage her work. For example, one of the stage directions in Plucked is:

“Abigail explodes into eggs.”
~ Rachel Ganz (Plucked)

And that means whatever you want it to mean. I’m really excited by her work because it doesn’t feel safe. I never know how it’s going to go. Which is terrifying, but I feel like I have to be scared to do my best work. I can’t go in with a complete plan. It’s interesting working on this play for me, because I feel like so much of my journey developing as a director has been trying to change my relationship to fear. It’s a valuable thing, because when you’re afraid, you know you have something at risk.


Shaina: Did you start as a director?

Carly: No, I started as an actor. But I was getting to play really good roles and not feeling satisfied. I finally produced and directed a double bill of two short plays at a tiny venue. From my point of view, it was a bit of a mess because I was directing purely based on a mix of impulse and what I had liked about working with other directors, without really having a process. But it was the one time in my life when I felt like “this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” I knew there were still skills I needed to develop, so I applied to NTS and ended up getting in. Now, I’m back! 

Shaina: So this is your welcome back to Toronto project?!

Carly: Yes! No pressure! With directing I find I can’t compartmentalize the way I could with acting because I had my one part. With directing I feel like I’m vulnerable all the time, because even when I’m not in rehearsal, I’m constantly processing it. It’s kind of inevitable that it becomes my everything.

Shaina: What can people expect from Plucked?

Carly: Ultimately, Plucked is not going to be for everyone. It’s dark, it’s really irreverent and the characters are not nice people. There are parts of it that will intentionally make people uncomfortable. My expectation is that it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s actually exciting to me because I go to so many plays which everyone (seemingly) loves and I don’t. It’s a really alienating experience to go to a “hit” and everyone’s jumping to their feet, and I’m like… “what?!” And I feel like a lot of us secretly experience that.

I’m just not interested in doing realism in theatre. If I want to see good realism I can watch a movie. In theatre, there are so many more exciting, fun and challenging things we can do, than try to replicate real life. My hope is that this play will appeal to the people who are like me – who go see the really conventional work and are not satisfied.

Shaina: Describe “Plucked” in five words.  

Carly:                          Dark


         Playful                                                                Uncomfortable

                                    (ever-so-slightly) Hopeful


Company: Newborn Theatre
Written by Rachel Ganz; Directed by Carly Chamberlain; Set and Costume Design by Anna Treusch; Stage Managed and Sound Design by Daniel Bennett; Produced by Laura Paduch; Dramaturged by Jonathan Garfinkel; Lighting Design by: Frank Donato; Fight Direction by Nate Bitton; Performed by Faisal Butt, Sochi Fried, Qianna MacGilchrist, Tim Machin, Tyrone Savage, Tim Walker.

Infusing comedy, bluegrass music, and a complete lack of sentimentality, Plucked is set in a world where fear turns women into chickens, eggs are high currency, and vaginas are near-dangerous possessions. Plucked skewers patriarchy without holding punches. It exposes hard truths about fear and family. It’s funny because it’s fake; it’s vulnerable, but it’s okay because it ends with a curtain call, but it’s not okay because it’s familiar. Plucked is, after all, a true story. It’s just full of lies.

With Plucked, playwright Rachel Ganz and director Carly Chamberlain make their return to Toronto after collaborating together in Montreal at the National Theatre School of Canada. Ganz’s writing rejects the convention of the “well-made play”. Through her writing, comedy, music, and magic collide to expose humour, discomfort, and a sliver of hope.

“Rachel Ganz is an appalling, compelling, intelligent and hilarious new voice in theatre. Her play, “Vacuum”, directed for maximum distress and delight by Carly Chamberlain, was an articulate howl.” -Ann-Marie MacDonald

Curator’s Note
“Crafted chaos is one of my favorite things. It’s the feeling of a deep laugh caught in the belly because you don’t want to miss the next moment, which promises to hold as much delight as the previous. All this, plus unapologetically subversive politically-inspired outbursts!” – Tara Beagan

The Theatre Centre Mainspace
1115 Queen Street West

Friday August 5th 5:15 PM – 6:45 PM
Saturday August 6th 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Sunday August 7th 9:15 PM – 10:45 PM
Tuesday August 9th 7:45 PM – 9:15 PM
Wednesday August 10th 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Friday August 12th 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

More Show Info:


twitter – @NewbornTheatre
facebook – NewbornTheatre
instagram – @NewbornTheatre
hashtag – #PluckedTO