Extraordinarily talented students of the Civica Accademia d'Arte Drammatica Nico Pepe promoting their show in Avignon, France (2010)

For a few weeks every summer, when the theatres are dark and quiet between seasons, streets all around the world come alive with sweaty performers flyering, postering, and trying to get you out to their shows.

Theatre festivals bring all sorts of local and international artists out to tiny and not-so-tiny theatre and not-so-theatry spaces.  Over the years, I’ve collected a few festival experiences– some as an artist, most as an audience-member– and all have been unforgettable.  Unless I’ve forgotten about one- it’s possible, though unlikely because theatre festivals are pretty overwhelming.

I definitely wouldn’t mind being overwhelmed at the Edinburgh Fringe (the mother of all theatre festivals) this month or in Avignon (where I had a blast last year), but right now, I feel pretty darn lucky to be in Toronto.

Today is the last day of SummerWorks, Canada’s largest juried theatre festival and attracts some top names, where I got to see some breathtaking theatre (I’m talking about Evan Tsitsias’s Strange Mary Strange here).  Following the Fringe Festival by just a couple of weeks, I barely had time to catch my breath.  The pace, the energy, the budgeting, the sunburns, and the knowledge that it’s all going to end soon all remind me quite a bit of travelling.

Standing in line for a risky production in a sweltering theatre yesterday afternoon, I managed to capture that elusive feeling you get when you travel… You know, the one where you truly appreciate the moment, when you easily take more risks, grab a random ice-cream, and sit on the sunny sidewalk doing magic tricks with your brand-new friends.

Now, if I could only feel like a traveller in my own city a bit more often…