As this pandemic continues and we’re still awaiting more information on how long it may take for any semblance of normalcy to resume, Canadians are turning more and more to online options for entertainment. Artists and media organizations have produced no shortage of content during this time; however, with so much to choose from, the choices of what to watch and engage in can be overwhelming. To assist, we’ve narrowed down some of our top Canadian picks for the month.
Coriolanus (Stratford Festival)
Late last week, the Stratford Festival announced the cancellation of their 2020 season, which makes now an even better time than ever before to support the company. Beginning on April 23, Stratford has been sharing some of their most popular performances online, with programming scheduled until July 30. The Festival’s 2018 production of Coriolanus streams for free from April 30 to May 21 through the Stratford Festival website, and isn’t to be missed. Easily the hottest ticket of the 2018 Festival, Coriolanus sees Shakespeare’s classic text reimagined with the vision of renowned Canadian director Robert Lepage. In true Lepage form, expect elaborate sets and experimentation with technology (including a whole scene done by text message displaying on screen).
DopoLavoro Teatrale, or DLT, is a Toronto-based theatre company that focuses on audience specific experiences. Shortly after the pandemic began, DLT paired up with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura to announce Theatre on-call, a festival of contemporary, interactive performances occurring over the phone and through other digital platforms. From breaking down classic stories (like Dante’s Inferno) into “episodes,” to interactive bedtime stories, to connecting strangers through digital means for conversations, the eclectic offerings vary in content and offer something different each evening. For those looking for an ongoing series, the company has two multi-day offerings of performances that weave together stories and connections. Regardless of the type of performance attended, reservations are strongly encouraged in advance, and all performances are pay-what-you-can.
Improv House Party (Second City)
Taking place over Zoom, the current talent and alumni of renowned comedy company Second City provide improv to eager audiences, all from within the comforts of their own home. The comedy centre is providing three options for audiences; their Improv House Party takes place three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) at 8pm EST and often feature renowned comedians and improvisers who got their start with the troupe. The Really Awesome Improv Show is a family-friendly, game-oriented performance broadcasting every Thursday at 11am and The Last Show Left on Earth is a sketch-style format, with new episodes posted online weekly. There is no charge to attend any of the performances; but donations to The Second City Alumni Fund are encouraged.
Orchestre classique de Montreal
Hamilton-based conductor Boris Brott (who also runs the Brott Music Festival) is also the Music Director of this Montreal-based group (formerly the McGill Chamber Orchestra). Since the ensemble is unable to come together to perform and announce their 2020-2021 season, they’ve arranged for some of their featured soloists to showcase their talents instead. Every Tuesday evening at 7:30pm during the month of May, the company will feature a different soloist in a live performance, broadcast on their Facebook page. Although the OCM is a classical ensemble, soloists are invited to share music from any genre they wish, and concerts typically last from forty minutes in length to over ninety minutes long. Past concerts are also available to be watched online via Facebook.
Imagine an online music venue supported by some of the longest-running and well-respected Canadian music festivals. That’s URGNT. The livestream series presents well-known Canadian musical talent whose tours or gigs have been cancelled as a result of this pandemic. Concerts are presented every Friday night through their Facebook page, with a gofundme page to accept donations (or, as URGNT calls it, your cover charge). Each livestream costs $1,000 to produce, so the group’s fundraising efforts are critical to supporting these Canadian artists. Upcoming performers come from a variety of genres, including Stewart Goodyear, Kobo Town, Scott Merritt and Alex Cuba.