Virtual art listings for the week of June 29: 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

Rebecca Perry. (Graham Isador)

While things are slowly starting to open up across Canada, concerts, theatre, and other performing arts are still shelved for the time being. Thankfully artists continue to take to the internet during the pandemic to share their work with audiences. Each week CBC Arts has been helping to promote that work by listing our favourite digital live events. Below you can check out our picks for the week of June 29th.

The Toronto Fringe goes online

In the Toronto Theatre community, there is no festival more beloved than the Fringe. Each year over a hundred shows are performed in venues across the city, with professional theatre artists, emerging talent, and amateurs all hoping to become the next Kim's Convenience. This year the Toronto Fringe is reimagining its festival on the internet, with over 50 companies performing digital shows. The event runs from July 1st -12th with an online launch party happening Tuesday, June 30th at 8:30pm ET. With dozens of musicals, comedies, and dramas to choose from, you're bound to find something  to your tastes. Some suggestions include the sensational Rebecca Perry in Sarah/Frank — an audio experience about a Canadian caught in the American Civil War — happening July 4th-6th, and Fringe veterans Shakey-Shake performing their incredible puppet Shakespeare show King Lear...A (Self-Isolating) Puppet Epic from July 1st-3rd.

Get down with The Legendary PIT! from Yellowknife

Self-described as the Northwest Territories' "premier man-child boy-band" The Legendary PIT! joyfully blend funk and soul with over-the-top lyrics. The result sounds something like Jack Black performing Barry White covers. The band's latest album Modern Mating Calls has an infectious quality that demands multiple plays. It's won the group sold out shows in their local scene and a growing reputation across the country.  You can watch  The Legendary PIT! in all their glory as they perform a live set Monday, June 29th at 7pm UCT (3pm ET).  Things are sure to get wild.

Take an improv class online

If you're looking for a low stakes, fun, and interactive evening, why not try an online improv class with Bad Dog Theatre? The Toronto company offers a sample class designed for beginners, with weekly sessions happening Saturdays at 3pm ET and Mondays at 6pm ET. Bad Dog has produced some of the country's funniest performers. Whether you've got aspirations to take over the comedy world or are simply looking  to build some confidence, improv is an invaluable tool. Details can be found here.

Celebrate diversity with A Queer & Trans Muslim Love Letter

On Tuesday, June 30th at 6pm ET catch ISHQ - A Queer & Trans Muslim Love Letter on Zoom. The show features a talented crew of musicians, poets, drag performers, and artists representing the best of Toronto's Muslim LGBTQ community. With acts from Mango Lassi, Troy Jackson, Halal Bae, and more, the live-stream promises to be an entertaining and enlightening experience. ISHQ - A Queer & Trans Muslim Love Letter is run by ScrapFest, a multicultural, immigrant-friendly performance series showcasing alternative artists with varied geopolitical backgrounds.

Listen to the soulful indie pop of Halifax's Braden Lam

Halifax songwriter Braden Lam brings his soulful brand of indie pop online Thursday, July 2nd at 7pm ET. The musician — who has drawn comparisons to Tim Baker and Phoebe Bridgers for his honest storytelling and heart-pulling melodies — is performing in celebration of his single "Habit of My Heart." With a new album due out this fall, Lam is an artist to watch.

Celebrate the best in Toronto theatre at the Dora Awards

Since 1978, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts has celebrated the city's best theatre with the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. This year's digital ceremony happens Monday, June 29th at 7:30 pm via YouTube with esteemed artists Diane Flacks and Ed Roy writing and directing the show. Two plays chronicling the Black experience lead the 2020 nominations. Musical Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre's powerful co-production of the civil-rights-era musical Caroline, Or Change picked up eight nominations. Soulpepper's production of The Brothers Size — a play about two siblings in Louisiana penned by Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin — also received eight nominations. Find out who wins and enjoy the ceremony at this link.

Find an outlet for grief with The Holy Gasp

Fronted by Benjamin Hackman, The Holy Gasp feels more like a series of interconnected art projects than a band. Sometimes the group channel a Nick Cave-esque sound in fierce live performances; other times they're releasing 20-minute spoken word pieces. Their art is dark, strange, and over-the-top. While the fearless presentation doesn't always hit, the band should be applauded for their ambitiousness. On Wednesday, July 1st at 9pm ET, The Holy Gasp are performing a piece called Grief. The show — written for ten vocalists, two pianists, and accompanying percussion — strives to create a communal mourning ritual for anyone who has suffered the sorrows of losing a loved one. Audiences are invited to share the names of  the deceased which will be integrated into the performance. More information can be found here

Solve a mystery at the Citadel Theatre

Through the pandemic, Edmonton's Citadel Theatre has been hosting the [ESC] series online to highlight the work of Edmonton theatre artists. The next show in the series is RANSOM from Headspin Theatre, which features original songs and farcical antics as the performers attempt to solve the mystery of their friend's sudden disappearance. The play runs Thursday, July 3rd-Sunday, July 5th. Get more information at this link.

Learn about social justice from an arts perspective

Artists for Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty are hosting a weekly meeting called Arts Activism Open Space where artists and community members are invited to discuss projects that integrate live performance and social activism. This week's open space happens on Monday, June 29th at 7pm ET via Zoom. Small groups will be chatting about performances to support tenant rights and rapid responses to encampment clearings/evictions. You can find more information and get involved here.

Navigate the intersections of money and identity with E-Transfer

On Tuesday, June 30th at 8pm ET, catch E-Transfer hosted by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and The National Theatre School of Canada. Written and performed by Gabe Maharjan and Merlin Simard, the show explores the intersections of economics and trans/gender non-conforming identities. Asking big questions about love, money, and identity, E-Transfer works as a brutally honest reflection on survival during late capitalism. Tickets for the show are pay-what-you-decide with proceeds going to support The Okra Project and Taking What We Need, two charities supporting Black/Indigenous two-spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming folks. ​​​​​​

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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