Theatre Erindale doesn’t kick off its season for another few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that things slowed down for UTM’s drama students over the summer months.
SummerWorks, a Toronto-based theatre festival, drew in several current and former UTM students; the event ran for 11 days in August at a variety of downtown venues. According to its website, SummerWorks is “the largest juried festival in Canada featuring predominantly new Canadian plays”. This year’s festival also included a concert series and other satellite events throughout the city.
There were several awards up for grabs at this year’s SummerWorks, one of which was awarded to UTM grad Andrea Scott for her play Eating Pomegranates Naked. Scott’s play, which frankly explores the devastating effects that miscarriage can have on couples, won the RBC Arts Professional Award. This $1,000 prize “recognizes the work, craft, and dedication of an emerging arts professional”.
Scott sees her success at SummerWorks as a recognition of her business sensibilities as much as her art. For example, in order to raise funds to stage the production, she created an Indiegogo account.
“It is validation for all the independent business learning I absorbed over the last ten years on my own,” she says. “My gurus are Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel H. Pink, and Seth Godin, who look at the psychology of business, communication, and people skills. I always believed that I had a good play, but just having a good product won’t sell it to the masses.”
Several current UTM drama students also took part in the festivities, including Lindsey Middleton, Michael Esposito II, Tyler Seguin, Denise Norman, Alessa Dufresne, Nicole St. Martin, Michael Bradley, and Zoe Sweet. As well, UTM Canadian theatre history professor Sasha Kovacs appeared in the festival entry Show and Tell Alexander Bell.
As Scott explains, having your play in a festival like SummerWorks teaches you some important lessons quickly.
“As a writer, it forces you to write on a tight deadline when your director tells you five days before opening that five pages have to be cut,” she says. “You learn not to be precious about your work and attempt a little guerrilla dramaturgy […] Just because you think your work is a fine piece of brilliance that will have the critics and audiences trumpeting your genius doesn’t mean that will actually happen, so always have a backup.”
For Scott, though, all of the hard work and last-minute stress paid off. She describes her play as “naked” and “voyeuristic” and though it may test audiences, Eating Pomegranates Naked was a hit with critics and, as it turned out, the jury. “When I heard that I’d won the RBC Arts Professional Award on August 18, I gave myself a pat on the back and said, ‘Well done’, as it was the recognition I had hoped for three years ago when I began writing Eating Pomegranates Naked,” Scott says. “So yes, sometimes there are happy endings.”