Here are 3 must-see cultural events happening in Ottawa this weekend

This week's list includes riveting historical drama, a birthday party for William Shakespeare, and a gospel for going green from David Suzuki.

Historical plays, Shakespeare's birthday, and David Suzuki top this weekend's list

Ottawa's Company of Fools is inviting people to celebrate William Shakespeare's birthday this weekend. (Courtesy Company of Fools)

If you're looking for some cultural events to fill your weekend in Ottawa-Gatineau this weekend, we've got a few ideas.

There's a new play that delves into the racist world of 19th century Europe, a birthday celebration for the Bard, and a book reading designed to get you thinking green.

The Hottentot Venus — Untold

Jacqui du Toit performs in her one woman play about Sarah Baartman, an indigenous African woman who was displayed on stages of Europe. 1:14

Fresh new voices and brave explorations of social issues are the main ingredients of the TACTICS Indie Theatre Series, currently in its third year at Arts Court.

Artistic director Bronwyn Steinberg says she's attracted to stories that give the audience something to think about, and she's certainly found that in The Hottentot Venus — Untold

"Hottentot Venus" was the name given to Sarah Baartmen, an indigenous woman from the Khoi Khoi tribe in South Africa's Eastern Cape region.  

In 1810 she was taken from her home and displayed without clothing in European freak shows.

Playwright and actor Jacqui du Toit says she became aware of the story of Sarah Baartmen when she was a student in Cape Town, South Africa. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

"She was an incredible woman who was taken advantage of," said Jacqui Du Toit, the local actor and storyteller who restores dignity to Baartman's tragic story by imagining her innermost thoughts and inhabiting the many characters she encountered during her short life.

"She was exhibited in London and seen as a freak by many onlookers at that time, at the height of human zoos," said Du Toit, who is also from South Africa.

WHERE: Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Ave. 

WHEN: The Hottentot Venus — Untold runs until April 23.  The TACTICS Indie Theatre Series runs until May 3.

COST: Tickets range from $15 to $25 and can be purchased here.

Celebrate Shakespeare with a bunch of fools

Geoff McBride brushes off his Shakespeare in preparation of Saturday's birthday bash for the Bard. 0:14

​Ottawa's Company of Fools is inviting you blow out the candles with the Bard this weekend.

The acting troupe promises prizes, food, musical merriment, and a chance to show off your Shakespearean chops with a trivia contest.

"We're also going to have 'Bardaoke,' which is our version of karaoke, allowing singers to really ham it up by donning Shakespearean costumes as they belt out their tunes," said the troupe's Geoff McBride.

And since it would be William Shakespeare's 473rd birthday this weekend, there will of course be cake. 

"I've heard a rumour that Shakespeare himself will be there to blow out the candles," McBride said.

WHERE: The Acting Company, 738A Bank St.

WHEN: Doors open at 7 p.m. on April 22, with festivities beginning at 7:30 p.m.

COST: $25, with proceeds going into the company's upcoming outdoor summer production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tickets can be purchased here.

Earth Day by the books

David Suzuki brings his new book collaboration Just Cool It! to Christ Church Cathedral Saturday evening. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

To mark Earth Day, the Ottawa International Writers Festival is offering an opportunity Saturday night to discuss the issues of climate change with thoughtful and passionate environmentalists and writers.

David Suzuki has teamed up with Ian Hanington for a new book called Just Cool It! that takes the current temperature of the situation, while dispensing practical suggestions and hopeful encouragement for change.

Nishnaabeg storyteller Leanne Betasamosake Simpson will also read from her latest collection of stories and songs This Accident of Being Lost.

WHERE:  Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks St.

WHEN: April 22 at 6:30 p.m.

COST:  Tickets range from $20 to $30 and you can buy them here.

About the Author

Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at