Lessons in Temperament

Created and Performed by James Smith

Lessons to enjoy July run at the The Pershing Square Signature Center in NYC,
After SOLD OUT Return Engagement in Toronto  

**WINNER – 2016 SummerWorks Festival PRIZE FOR PRODUCTION**

A Programming Note from Artistic Director Mitchell Cushman

In Lessons in Temperament, James Smith weaves together the incredibly personal story of three decades of family remembrances, musical education and the pursuit of a balanced mind. It has been so incredible to see the deep impact James has had on the wide range of audiences that have gathered around the piano with him—hanging on his every word and every note, as he opens up both the piano and his family’s beautiful, complicated psyche. When the show was first produced at the SummerWorks Festival in 2016, the limited capacity of each of our venues meant that many people were unable to get in. Watching James’ story take audiences to such vivid, unexpected places, within the evocative power of an intimate found space, epitomizes for me the exciting power of immersive theatre. And so it is with immense pride and great pleasure that we now present Lessons in Temperament as an Outside the March production. I hope you will come join James and us around the piano this June.

In Lessons in Temperament, James Smith tunes pianos in various public and private spaces throughout Toronto while exploring the concept of 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 both kept him grounded and kept him company throughout his life.

Part memoir, 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 strange, beautiful, distempered minds.

  • NYC - July 2nd - 29th, 2017
    Toronto - June 18th – 28th, 2017 SOLD OUT
  • Buy Tickets

The Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City

intimate, deeply felt and poignant… wise and heartfelt lessons for us all.

NOW Magazine

Lessons In Temperament

NOW Magazine

Do yourself a favour and experience this show.

Mooney on Theatre

Lessons In Temperament

Mooney on Theatre

Mitchell Cushman has once again directed a fascinating site-specific show with nuance and sensitivity

Slotkin Letter

Lessons In Temperament

Slotkin Letter

Creative Team

  • James Smith – Creator and Performer
  • Mitchell Cushman – Director and Developer
  • Nick Blais – Production Design
  • Nevada Banks – Associate Director
  • Kate Sandeson – Stage Manager
  • Michelle Yagi & Katherine Devlin Rosenfeld – Producers
  • Sarite Harris – Producer (SummerWorks run)
  • Imran Zaidi – Photography and Graphic Design


Awards & Accolades

  • Prize for Production – The SummerWorks Festival (2016)
  • Prize for Direction (Honourable Mention), Mitchell Cushman – The SummerWorks Festival (2016)
  • Outstanding Production – NOW Magazine (SummerWorks, 2016)
  • Outstanding New Play – NOW Magazine (SummerWorks, 2016)
  • Outstanding Direction – NOW Magazine (SummerWorks, 2016)
  • SummerWorks Highlight – Torontoist (2016)