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Lessons in Temperament ()

Produced by

TuneSmith Productions

Presented by

The SummerWorks Performance Festival

Playwright: James Smith
Director: Mitchell Cushman


August 4th, 2016 – August 14th, 2016


Every piano is unique in its imperfection — in its flawed relationship to the sonic world. It’s impossible to perfectly tune a piano, so the job of a piano tuner is to tame this imperfection into an even balance, an even spread of dissatisfaction. This balance is known as Equal Temperament: a game of constant compromise and a lesson in disappointment.

Every mind is unique in its imperfection. In Lessons In Temperament, James Smith tunes pianos in various public and private spaces throughout Toronto while exploring theories behind Equal Temperament as well as his three older brothers’ mental illnesses: obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, and schizophrenia. Smith attempts to grant balance to the instrument that has, throughout his life, kept him grounded and kept him company, while reflecting on the discord that runs through his family. Each performance takes place in a different venue, gathered around a different piano. Part autobiographical story-telling, part performance art, part tune-up, this site-specific show offers a unique theatrical experience, and a singular glimpse into the lives of those living with troubled, beautiful, distempered minds. (


James Smith Performer

Creative Team

James Smith Playwright
Mitchell Cushman Director
Mitchell Cushman Development
Nick Blais Production Designer
Nevada Banks Assistant Director


Kate Sandeson Stage Manager
Sarite Harris Producer
James Smith Producer
Mitchell Cushman Producer