East End Performance Crawl

Crow's Theatre Associate Artistic Director Mitchell Cushman talks about the company's new site-specific theatre festival

Presented by Crow's Theatre

Described as a theatrical love letter to Toronto's East End, Crow's Theatre's 12-day Performance CRAWL (May 21 - June 1) brings 23 different theatre experiences to 14 different venues in the Leslieville / Riverdale area. Headlined by monologist Mike Daisey (The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) in the world premiere of his new show Dreaming of Rob Ford, the festival features a variety of site-specific solo shows, including new work by Toronto stage favourites including Amy Keating, Julie Tepperman, Meagan O'Shea and Tracey Hoyt, as well as performances by celebrated theatre artists from across North America. The festival also includes Tracey Erin Smith's second annual SoulO Festival, and free live music by Bahia Watson at Hitch Bar, host of the CRAWL's nightly after party.

Here, we chat with CRAWL curator Michell Cushman about bringing this creative event to the city's unique east end neighbourhood.

Theatromania: What inspired Crow’s Theatre to launch The East End Performance CRAWL?

MC: Crow’s has been located in the east end for a long time and we are building a new theatre at Dundas and Carlaw to open in 2016. We love this community and there has been a lack of cultural opportunity in this part of the city. We were eager to bring together our interest in site-specific work and our goal to bring more cultural audiences and cultural experiences together in the east end. We have called this show a love letter to the east end, and for us it really iswe hope that we can facilitate the discovery of new parts of the city and new artists.

Theatromania: How would you describe this particular festival experience in a few sentences?

MC: The CRAWL is a solo performance festival, a series of site-specific theatre installations and a community "Doors Open" event all in one. It brings together exciting artistsboth established and emergingfrom Toronto, the rest of Canada, and the world, under one umbrella and into unique and interesting spaces.

Theatromania: As the festival curator, what did you look for when selecting shows?

MC: We were looking for shows that could be produced site-specifically in ways that would be interesting and bring something to the workthe show Tease, which is being performed in the soon-to-be-closed strip-club Jilly’s, is a perfect example of that. We were also looking for diversity in the material. Crow’s Theatre has a mandate to produce work that addresses the pivotal narratives of our timesso we are always looking for work that fulfills that goal. The premiere of Mike Daisey’s Dreaming of Rob Ford, addresses that news story but also the issue of how media functions in society right now, is a great example of an extremely contemporary and vital narrative.

Theatromania: What excites you most about this opportunity?

MC: I have never curated other people’s projects before so this proved to be a really wonderful new way to engage with the work. Also, as someone who focuses on site-specific work, the task of marrying different pieces of work to spaces in the east end and really putting consideration into what would make good marriages that way was very enjoyable. Also, I am excited about bringing a diverse group of artists together where they can meet minds and share ideas. I am really looking forward to the days to come and to seeing some great theatre.

The East End Performance CRAWL is happening now until June 1 in Toronto's east end. Visit crowstheatre.com for more information.

Sample festival offerings:

based on actual unrelated events (Toronto) – DYNAMIC DANCE
Created and Performed by Meagan O’Shea (Stand Up Dance), this show explores the relationship between home/less/ness in the body, the erroneous global corn crop and what’s happening to the honeybees. Kryart Studio, 980 Queen St. E

The Art of Traditional Head-Tying (Toronto) – WORLD PREMIERE
Written and Performed by Kanika Ambrose “If the values, people, and traditions of the place I call home have changed, where is my home now?” 20 years after immigrating to Canada, Rosemarie Jon-Charles Hicks returns to her “home” island, Dominica.
Ralph Thornton Centre, 765 Queen St. E

Face Value: Leslieville (Toronto) – PERFORMING NEIGHBOURHOOD
Performed by Tracey Hoyt, directed by Kate Ashby. Improv artist Tracey Hoyt embodies and explores a selection of unforgettable Leslieville characters, inspired in ‘real time’ by the striking photography of Kate Ashby. Pentimento Gallery, 1164 Queen St. E

The Ballad of the Young Offender (Montreal) – POSITVE YOUTH CORRUPTION!
Written by Patrick John Constello, starring Kyle Gatehouse, directed by Andrew Shaver. Modeled after the trial of Socrates, an urgent meditation on the xenophobia, racism and fear mongering that permeated North America at the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll. From the award-winning Sidemart Theatrical Grocery! Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, 1362 Queen St. E

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2014-05-21 - Sun, 2014-06-01


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