Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Critics’ Picks: 5 Events to Stream (or Attend!) This June

After too many months of closures, counting down days until lockdowns end and waiting for reopenings with bated breath, it finally seems like the end of the pandemic is (almost) in sight. Under the previous government colour-coded system, performing arts centres and artists were teased with the concept of sharing their work with in-person audiences; but in Southern Ontario, we never reached the elusive colour zones that would allow that to occur. More recently, a three-step system has been introduced, which could allow outdoor performance events by July and performing arts venues, galleries and theatres open by August. 

In anticipation of these live events, Hamilton artists and arts organizations have put together some incredible events. Here’s our top picks for this month.

PLAY THIS (Tottering Biped Theatre)

It’s been quite a year for Tottering Biped, who had planned to move their summer Shakespeare programming to Dundurn Castle beginning in 2020. Instead, the theatre company has spent the last year sharing and developing work online. PLAY THIS, available from June 1 to July 31 is the culmination of the company’s experience in which the audience member becomes an active participant in a carefully curated production while exploring Ottawa Street North through site specific audio dramas. Part tour, part performance and part scavenger hunt, PLAY THIS has been designed to be enjoyed both solo and with friends- so regardless of what provincial regulations may be, there’s no excuse to miss out.

Hamilton Arts Week (Hamilton Arts Council)

This city-wide celebration of the arts went virtual last year, allowing for different types of artists and events to be showcased. This year is no exception, with the Arts Council’s June 3-12 festival offering a wide variety of free activities, interspersed with video presentations of this year’s Hamilton Arts Awards. Signature events of note include three-time Juno-nominated Sultans of String in a free performance on June 7 at 8pm; a workshop reading of local playwright Stephen Near’s Whale Fall on June 8 at 5pm; and a virtual presentation with Q&A of local artist Carlyn Rhamey’s ADHD Project on June 11 at 6pm.

Street + Art

The Society for Experiential Graphic Design presents their first installment of a speaker series that celebrates street art and its connection to community. A firm believer in the ability of street artists to transform concrete into placemaking events and community change, this June 3 event at 12pm presents artists and organizations across North America to share their work and impact. As a city with a growing street art presence and increasing usage of art as a means of neighbourhood transformation, there’s likely much for Hamiltonians to learn from this series. Local connections include Hamilton-raised speaker Matthew Dayler, who is now based in Cincinnati, but whose work can be seen worldwide. 

Prospects (Aeris Korper Dance Theatre)

Never the one to shy away from opportunity, Aeris Korper has found ways to share dance with live audiences throughout the pandemic. From virtual experiences to storefront presentations, the pandemic has barely made the growing company pause. Prospects, Aeris Korper’s signature workshop event, moved online last year, but has allowed the company to expand their reach, with choreographers participating from across North America in the dance-dialogue event. The June 3 edition invites audiences to watch new and in-progress contemporary dance works and participate in a guided Q&A discussion and written feedback. Choreographers include Eilish Shin-Culhane (Toronto), Megan English (Hamilton), Methods of Madness Dance Theater (Phoenix), Qiang Luo (Burlington/Toronto) and Tia Ashley Kushniruk (Edmonton). 

Decolonise Your Ears Festival

2021 marks the tenth anniversary of Red Betty Theatre, whose mandate is to nurture and support Indigenous, Black and people of colour. To celebrate this milestone anniversary, the company launched the Decolonise Your Ears Festival, taking place June 24 – 26, with each night featuring a virtual performance of a work written by a Canadian female IBPOC playwright, followed by a Q&A. Each performance is also driven by Hamilton-based female leadership, including playwrights Melissa Murray Mutch (Unwanted, June 24), Radha S. Menon (The Sheep, June 26) and directors of all three productions, including Karen Ancheta (How Much for Tranquility?, June 25), Marilo Nuñez (Unwanted) and Jennie Esdale (The Sheep). Tickets can be purchased for each production through Red Betty Theatre. 

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