In Hebrew, chutzpah means “brazen audacity.” As such, it’s fitting that the term would be the namesake of a Jewish performing arts festival that has always championed fearlessness. Since 2001, the Chutzpah! Festival has welcomed artists from around the world to stage provocative presentations of music, dance, theatre, film, and comedy in a celebration of cultural and creative diversity.
This year’s fest, which runs from October 24 to November 24, also marks artistic managing director Mary-Louise Albert’s final season with Chutzpah! after 15 years. A former professional dancer, Albert had specific goals she wanted to meet during her tenure, particularly seeing the festival reach an international standard in the performing arts scene.
With the annual event consistently presenting substance-rich works that challenge the status quo, Albert’s goal has been more than surpassed. 2019 continues to carry that torch forward, featuring artists from Israel to Canada that dive headfirst into subject matter ranging from conflicted identity to generational trauma — and all with a healthy dose of chutzpah.
“You definitely do not need to be Jewish to enjoy,” Albert adds. “You just need to like good art!”
Daniel Cainer October 24, Norman Rothstein Theatre
In his musical cabaret, Gefilte Fish and Chips, songwriter and storyteller Daniel Cainer explores what it means to be both Jewish and British. Both poignant and funny, Cainer searches for a sense of identity in a re-discovered heritage and the unconventional antics of his relatives.
ProArteDanza October 26-28, Norman Rothstein Theatre
The Toronto-based ballet company brings Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to life with the world premiere of the 9th! Breathtaking choreography, epic music, and themes such as freedom also serve as an intentional tribute to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Tamara Micner October 27-28, Wosk Auditorium at the Jewish Community Centre
In her one-woman show, Holocaust Brunch, Tamara Micner tells the true story of Bluma and Isaac Tischler — Holocaust survivors who met in medical school during World War II and went on to become successful doctors. With comedy and courage, Micner reflects on trauma and how to sort through painful memories that have extended through generations.
Gary Lucas October 30, Norman Rothstein Theatre
The avant-garde guitarist, composer, and Lou Reed collaborator will perform a live score to two classic 1930s horror films: Drácula (in Spanish) and Frankenstein. Gary Lucas spent his formative years playing guitar at the Jewish Community Centre in Syracuse, New York, and his roots continue to play an important role in both his life and work.
Sandra Bernhard October 31, Vogue Theatre
From her pioneering one-woman stand-up show to her portrayal of Nancy — one of American television’s first openly gay characters — on Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard is a queer comedy trailblazer. She’ll be performing her cabaret show, Quick Sand, with a three-piece backing band.