Virtual art listings for the week of May 25: 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

Quanah Style is co-hosting Essential Play, a massive virtual party on the night of May 29th. (CBC Arts)

With live performances postponed and galleries shuttered during quarantine, many people have been desperately seeking their art. To help compensate, we're putting together a weekly list of ten digital performances happening across the country that let viewers can participate in everything from choreographed dance to amateur detective work. Below are some of our recommendations for the week of May 25th.

Missing the club? Dance on your own with Essential Play

The Summerworks performance festival has been a launching pad for some of the most interesting theatre, dance, and performance art this country has to offer. Current circumstances forced them to cancel their August festival, but they've taken programming online with curated digital events happening from May until September. To kick things off, Summerworks is teaming with Canadian Stage and Club Quarantine — the massively popular queer online dance club that has featured appearances from superstars like Charli XCX and Kim Petras — to throw a killer digital party: Essential Play. The event happens on May 29th and features DJ sets from Bliptor as well as a circus performance from Erin Ball, among others. It will be hosted by Quannah Style, Sage Lovell and Priyanka.

Take date night digital with Crow's Theatre

Crow's Theatre's Dinner and a Show. (Crow's Theatre)

Dinner and a show has been a classic date night since the invention of date nights. If you're tired of home cooking and Crave binges, Toronto's Crow's Theatre has you covered with a truly unique experience. Teaming up with Gare de l'Est — known for their delicious takes on traditional French Cuisine — the company is bringing you new scripts from Crow's artists accompanied by a three course meal and a bottle of wine. The first show sold out quickly, so we're including the June 3rd performance in this week's listings. It features a new verbatim musical about the world of competitive eating. 

Vancouver playwright Christine Quintana reflects on what quarantine has meant for young adults

Playwright and creator Christine Quintana's last young adult show Selfie was awarded the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Play in 2018. Now, the folks at Young People's Theatre have asked Quintana to write a piece reflecting on teens in quarantine as a part of their Right Here, Write Now festival. On May 29th you can catch her piece hey you. The play asks big questions about whether we are more ourselves when we are alone or when we are seen by other people. It's recommended for audiences 12 and up.

Let Outside the March help you solve a Mundane Mystery 

Sebastien "Inspector" Heins from The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries. (Dasha Peregoudova)

In the time of social distancing, many theatres are testing out new ways of presenting their work. Outside the March, a company that specializes in creating masterful immersive theatrical experiences, have taken a truly innovative approach to their latest production. The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries is billed as an auditory adventure. Audiences receive a daily phone call where actors help participants solve a small problem in their life through a combination of investigative powers and great conversation. (CBC Arts's Leah Collins and Lise Hosein tried it out for our Stuck at Home series.) Outside the March artistic director Mitchell Cushman and his collaborators have consistently created bold and engaging work while pushing boundaries of theatrical forms, with The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries recently winning praise in The New York Times. The show continues this week, but with an extremely limited audience, you'll want to snag tickets fast. Some free tickets have also been made available with support of the aforementioned Summerworks festival as part of their digital programming.

Learn some new moves with Rock Bottom Movement

Alyssa Martin and her collaborators have toured across Canada with their feminist dance theatre Rock Bottom Movement. Their work is strange and playful, bringing a sense of wonder and curiosity to everything they do. During quarantine, the Rock Bottom team has been throwing a dance party called NONDANCER each Sunday at 4pm where participants are coached through some pressure free choreography. It's a fun time regardless of your experience level. 

Try a free art therapy class with Montreal's Museum Of Fine Arts

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts's Art Hive art therapy program. (© Mikaël Theimer)

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is offering virtual tours while their doors are closed to the public, which is a great opportunity to take in some of the country's finest work. But if you're looking for an activity that's a bit more interactive, the museum is also offering online art therapy sessions each Friday through their Facebook page. Their goal is to guide audiences through this difficult time with a calm and relaxing activity, which each therapy activity carefully crafted by MMFA art therapist Stephen Legari.

Take in a new documentary with Hot Docs 

If you've already finished Tiger King and The Last Dance, why not turn your attention to the best new documentaries on the market with the Hot Docs Festival? Over 140 official 2020 selections will screen as part of this year's Hot Docs Festival Online, guaranteeing you'll find something to enjoy no matter what your tastes. Starting May 28th and running until June 6th, Ontario audiences will be able to watch pre-recorded Q&As, stream documentaries, and partake in virtual live events. 

Get cultured with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra 

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performing at the Francis Winspear Centre. (CBC)

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Winspear Centre want audiences to stay connected to classical music while they're at home. Filmed in the acoustically perfect Concert Hall at the Winspear Centre, the team at the ESO is offering live-streams of performances from members of the orchestra. The next event takes on May 25th and features French horn player Megan Evans attempting to convince viewers that horns are the best instrument ever through music and a live Q&A. 

Take a free Masterclass with Soulpepper 

During quarantine, Soulpepper Theatre — Drake's favourite theatre in Toronto and the folks who brought you the Kim's Convenience stage show — is offering Masterclasses from some of the best minds in contemporary Canadian art. This Monday, you can catch Obsidian Theatre's artistic director Philip Akin discussing leadership and fostering creativity. With over 40 years of experience, directing credits at Shaw and Stratford, and oddball CV features like voice work in the animated X-Men series, it's clear Akin has a lot to offer. Registration for the event is here

Take things outdoors with this whimsical art show 

(Submitted by Nina Elliott)

While this is technically something to read about online rather than experience, one of my favourite feel-good stories coming out of the pandemic is this drive-thru outdoor art gallery in rural Newfoundland. Calling herself "the rock vandal," Nina Elliott has become an expert in yarn bombing, creating temporary graffiti in public spaces with knitting. Elliott is currently displaying her work along a two-kilometre strip of the Twillingate roadway. Visitors are invited to drive by and check out knit renditions of Homer Simpson, Where's Waldo, and Bumble the Snowman holding a wrestling championship. If you're not able to make the trip in person, Elliott's work can be found at her Instagram

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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