Virtual art listings for the week of June 1: Your 10 best bets for online events

CBC Arts has your weekly guide to all the things Canadian artists are doing to help us pass the time at home.

CBC Arts has your weekly guide to all the things Canadian artists are doing to help us pass the time at home

Erica Peck. (Graham Isador)

The coronavirus has impacted our lives in many different ways, bringing a lot of normal routines to a halt. At CBC Arts we've been particularly missing the community and camaraderie that comes with live performance. In an effort to stay connected to Canada's live art scene, each week we're putting together a list of our favourite digital performances happening across the country. Below are some of your best bets for the week of June 1.

Sing your heart out at this musical theatre open mic

Over the past decade, Jennifer Walls has established herself as an integral part of Toronto's independent musical theatre scene. She's been a standout performer, a powerhouse producer and more recently won accolades as a director with Heart House Theatre. During the pandemic, Walls has taken her long-standing musical theatre open mic Singular Sensation digital. Every second Monday, several singers can sign up to perform via Singular Sensation's Facebook page. In addition to the open mic component of the show, Walls also hosts a number of professional performers who chat about their work and belt out a song or two. The next edition of the show happens June 1 and features glamorous chanteuse Erica Peck, known for her show-stealing performance in Stratford's rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Witness the new wave of Ukraine's music scene with Toronto's Balaklava Blues

At the beginning of quarantine, Mark Marczyk — ringlead of klezmer party punks Lemon Bucket Orkestra and the creative force behind internationally acclaimed play Counting Sheep — began URGNT. URGNT is a curated online venue for Toronto artists, showcasing a broad range of the city's best musicians performing live sets from their living rooms. Among the swaths of online shows during the pandemic, URGNT has stood out by highlighting the city's diverse sounds. One night may feature the infectious Afro-Cuban jazz of Okan, the next something completely different like DJ Skratch Bastid. The common thread among the acts is that everyone included is very, very, talented. 

On June 3, URGNT hosts its latest concert: a mini-festival and Ukrainian Music Showcase. The lineup features Marczyk's Toronto based-band Balaklava Blues — an electronic outfit blending traditional folk vocals with trap and trance performed with his partner, ethnomusicologist Marichka Marczyk — as well as a number of Ukraine's fastest-rising post-revolution acts. The artists represent a new wave of music for the Ukraine, independent of the Russian music industry.   

Watch an improvised Dungeons and Dragons Game with the hilarious Sex T-Rex 

Award-winning Toronto comedy troupe Sex T-Rex is hosting an online series inspired by D&D Live!, the group's Dungeons and Dragons-themed improv show. Set in the fictional Realm of T'Rannah, the performance fearlessly lampoons the tropes of the city, using audience suggestions and fantasy jargon as a jumping-off point to poke fun at everything from Toronto's problems with gentrification to horror scenes at Trinity Bellwoods Park. The June 1 performance features comedy superstars Chris Wilson, Conor Bradbury, Kyah Green, Liz Johnston, Sean Tabares, Julian Frid, Ted Hambly, Stephanie Malek, Kaitlin Morrow and Seann Murray. This monthly show will see the cast playing an actual Dungeons and Dragons campaign online as their D&D Live! characters. The first show happens June 1 at 9 p.m. ET on Bad Dog Theatre's YouTube Channel

Travel across the country with Yukon-based singer/songwriter Joey O'Neil

Joey O'Neil's sophomore album Ever Ahead was written on the Trans-Canada highway during a trip from Yukon to Ontario. The album is rife with playful poetry and sees O'Neil casually bounce between tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a true sense of heartbreak. O'Neil is currently on another cross-country trip — for the past week the singer/songwriter has been driving her beloved camper van back to her home territory and treating audiences to a nightly concert on the road via her Instagram account. Each performance starts nightly at 9 p.m. ET. 

Take a spin around the workshop of a top Toronto DJ  

Paul Chin is a Toronto-based producer and DJ of Chinese-Jamaican descent. Chin brings his eclectic background to his work, offering a wide range of influences in his masterfully mixed sets, drawing from anime scores, dancehall, orchestral soul, hip hop and electronica. His latest release Full Spectrum sees collaborations with Shad and Searchlight winner Desirée Dawson

During the pandemic, the DJ is performing sets every second Friday at 9 p.m. ET. And those looking for inside information about Chin's creative process and studio set-up can check out his series HOMEWRK, which happens Mondays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET and gives audiences an intimate look at how the DJ works. All performances happen live on Chin's Twitch channel

Inspire young creators with visual artist and musician Jud Haynes 

For years musician and illustrator Jud Haynes split his time between graphic design and playing with beloved indie rockers Wintersleep. In 2007 he left the group to focus on visual work, going on to create art for the likes of Blue Rodeo and Letterkenny while proudly basing his practice in St. John's. On June 3 at 2 p.m. NT, Haynes will take part in a Q&A session called You Could Do This Too. The conversation is geared toward viewers ages 9-12 to show young people — young East Coasters in particular — that it is indeed possible to make a living in the arts. 

Join Le Funhouse! with POP Montreal 

June 5 through 7 the folks behind POP Montreal will host Le Funhouse!, an online festival of concerts, fashion, contemporary art, films and workshops. Broadcast virtually from the Rialto Theatre, Le Funhouse! features performances from TEKE::TEKE playing their Japanese-psych inspired post-rock, a solo set from Elizabeth Powell of Land Of Talk and a rotating cast of DJs. During the day audiences can also treat themselves to a range of digital activities including poetry recitals, drag makeup workshops and a virtual market with streetwear from original brands like Cicerone. All details about the online party can be found on the Pop Montreal website.

Go on a blind date with master clown artist Rebecca Northan 

Rebecca Northan has toured her show Blind Date across North America and Europe, winning praise for her lightning-fast wit and side-splitting humour. Each show sees an audience member go on an improvised date with Northan's alter ego Mimi, a saucy French clown. During the pandemic, Northan has taken a version of  the show to Spontaneous Theatre's YouTube channel with MIMI: LIVE! Every Friday night at 10 p.m. ET she has a fun and flirty date with a celebrity guest. That guest then sets her up with a celebrity friend of theirs for the next week. Thus far, the show has booked improv legend Colin Mochrie, Andrew Phung of Kim's Convenience, and Kevin Hanchard of Orphan Black, among others. Will Mimi date her way to the top of the Hollywood ladder before lockdown gets lifted? Details can be found on the Spontaenous Theatre website.

Learn about East Coast creators with Neptune Theater

For the past 57 years Neptune Theatre has been one of Canada's premiere arts institutions on the East Coast, contributing to the cultural, social and economic well-being of Halifax. With live shows put on hold for the time being, Neptune's artistic director Jeremy Webb has started a streaming channel chatting with artists from the theatre's past and present about their careers, their memories of Neptune and the future of the institution. The conversations have been funny and informative, acting as a perfect distraction during difficult times. Off The Leash with Jeremy Webb runs Mondays through Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. AT

Nightwood Theatre's artistic director Andrea Donaldson. (Graham Isador)

Support feminist theatre with Nightwood's Lawyer Cabaret

Each year since 2010, Nightwood Theatre — Canada's foremost company for feminist theatre, led by artistic director Andrea Donaldson — has hosted a fundraiser called The Lawyer Show. For the show, a team of professional directors, designers and vocal coaches joins forces with members of the legal community to stage a professionally led play — an opportunity for members outside the theatre community to show off their creative chops. Because of the pandemic, this year's Lawyer Show production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was cancelled. Instead, alumni from previous Lawyer Shows are performing a cabaret via Nightwood's YouTube channel on June 6 at 7 p.m. ET. Curated and hosted by director Ali Joy Richardson, the cabaret is sure to offer an uplifting evening of songs to support one of Canada's most important companies.  

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at See more of our COVID-related coverage here.


Graham Isador is a writer and theatre creator based out of Toronto. He trained as a part of the playwright unit at Soulpepper Theatre. Isador's work has appeared at VICE, The Risk Podcast, and the punk rock satire site The Hard Times, among other places.

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