Skip to main content

ESTRAGON: I can't go on like this.

VLADIMIR: That's what you think.

– Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

Story continues below advertisement

As I write this newsletter that’s supposed to update readers on what plays and musicals are opening this week, most theatres across the country have either shut down or been mandated to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seasons have ended early or, in the case of the summer theatres, had their openings postponed. Many rehearsals for upcoming shows are on pause at the very least.

I’m heartbroken for all the theatre creators who may have spent weeks, months or years working on art that now has an uncertain future – and even more concerned about all the art workers who will now struggle to find a way to pay their rent.

Here in Ontario, where a state of emergency has just been declared, many of the flexible jobs that stage artists hold down in between gigs (or alongside them) like catering or serving are going to be on hiatus as well.

So if you have tickets at a not-for-profit theatre for a show that has been cancelled, please consider converting the money you spend into a donation rather than asking for a refund. Many theatre companies can give you a tax receipt if you do so.

While the shows can’t go on, that doesn’t mean that theatre artists are sitting at home washing their thumbs.

Canadian playwright Nick Green is one of many who have sprung into action to imagine how performance can continue on during a pandemic.

Green, who won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for his play Body Politic, quickly created what he’s called the Social Distancing Festival, online at socialdistancingfestival.com, to celebrate the artists whose live art has been cancelled/delayed/disrupted in Canada and around the world. As of yesterday, it had had more than 100,000 visits.

Story continues below advertisement

On Green’s site, you can watch a clip of the cast of the Edmonton Opera sing Make Our Garden Grow from their cancelled production of Candide, check out Snezana Pesic’s costume designs for Ghost River Theatre’s postponed production of One, and there is also a list of planned livestreams of theatre, dance and opera – such as the nightly free online encore presentations from New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

If you are a playgoer at home missing going to the theatre, this is a great opportunity for you to discover (if you haven’t already) the PlayME podcast, which was created by Chris Tolley ​​and ​Laura Mullin of Toronto’s Expect Theatre. Since 2016, it has transformed new Canadian plays into audio dramas and, in late 2018, started a partnership with CBC Podcasts to bring them to even more listeners.

The latest episodes are an adaptation of Karen Hines’s Crawlspace, a darkly cautionary tale about how the playwright and actor lost money in Toronto real estate. I loved this show and called it “a Mike Holmes episode scripted by Franz Kafka” when I saw it at Soulpepper back in 2017.

The other plays-turned-into-podcasts this season are similarly top-notch: Emil Sher’s adaptation of Ian Brown’s memoir The Boy in the Moon (here’s my review of the show at Crow’s Theatre) and Nicolas Billon’s Butcher (here’s my review of the show at Alberta Theatre Projects). You can also dip into the PlayME archive to find works by Hannah Moscovitch, Kat Sandler, Andrea Scott, Rose Napoli, Norman Yeung and many others.

Feeling deprived of the classics? The Stratford Festival, which announced last week it will delay its 2020 season until at least May, has been at work capturing Shakespeare’s plays on film since 2014.

After the Stratford films are screened in movie theatres by Cineplex, they are broadcast on CBC in a condensed version – and the first 12 are now available for streaming on the CBC Gem app.

Story continues below advertisement

Members of the Stratford company perform in Coriolanus. A film version is available on CBC Gem.

David Hou/Handout

Three I would heartily recommend based on the full stage productions (click the titles to read my reviews): The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Chris Abraham and starring Deborah Hay and Ben Carlson; Macbeth, directed by Antoni Cimolino and starring Ian Lake; and Corionalus, directed by Robert Lepage and starring André Sills and Lucy Peacock.

I’m going to keep this newsletter going even though the stages are dark, so please feel free to send me your suggestions of how to engage with theatre, dance and opera while housebound.

And if you’re a Canadian playwright who has had a new or upcoming play cancelled but would like me to write about it, please send me the script. My email is knestruck@globeandmail.com.

Keep up to date with the weekly Nestruck on Theatre newsletter. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies