Looking for something bubbly to watch online to avoid thinking about the American election for five minutes today?
The National Arts Centre has started to post footage of the Grand Acts of Theatre its team commissioned across the country this fall. These are large-scale, outdoor performances that were also designed to be presented locally, but have their essence captured in short videos. (I wrote about them in August.)
Something Bubbled, Something Blue, a Talk is Free Theatre and Outside the March collaboration that took place in Barrie, Ont., on Sept. 12, has garnered some of the most online oohs and aahs so far.
Created by director Mitchell Cushman, designer Anahita Dehbonehie and choreographer Cameron Carver, the performance imagines a gorgeous fantasy of a coronavirus-friendly outdoor wedding, featuring all the party members housed in their own literal bubbles – those giant plastic inflatable orbs known as Zorbs.
Even the violinist is playing from inside a Zorb – and there’s a safe, bubble-wrapped kiss at the ceremony’s climax. If all weddings and social gatherings in Ontario had been this responsible, perhaps the province wouldn’t have the high case count it currently does.
Three other Grand Acts of Theatre videos have been posted by NAC to date: Trespassers Waltz from Curtain Razors in Regina; Intramural.e from Théâtre Cercle Molière and Synonym Art Consultation in Winnipeg; and Shifting Verse from the Prismatic Arts Festival in Halifax. More are to come later this fall.
The pandemic may have closed the physical border with the United States, but Canadians are still intrigued, appalled and just plain transfixed with our neighbours – and, with so much of our lives spent online now, we’re in some ways more intertwined with American culture and politics than ever.
In this election year, Toronto’s Canadian Stage has kept ties up with our friends to the south by offering a year-long residency to the New York-based “live art” company 600 Highwaymen. Its members Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone will be sharing three new works over the course of nine months that respond to the pandemic and our tumultuous times.
The overall project is titled A Thousand Ways and the first instalment is a one-hour interactive audio experiment called Phone Call. It “opens” this week on your smartphone wherever you are in the country.
Here’s the enigmatic description: “Someone is on the line. You don’t know their name and you still won’t when the hour is over, but as you follow the recorded instructions, a portrait of your partner will emerge through fleeting moments of exposure.”
Look for my review of this experience later this week.
A couple of updates on shows I reviewed recently: First, Ghost Quartet: In Concert, Crow’s Theatre’s filmed theatre-on-film production of Dave Malloy’s spooky and strange chamber musical, has extended owing to demand until Nov. 7. It’s been fun reading mini-reviews on Twitter from Malloy fans all around the world who have tuned in.
Secondly, since I wrote about the audio version of Hannah Moscovitch’s play This is War available to rent through Tarragon Theatre last week, I’ve learned that it has also been picked up by the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa, Neptune Theatre in Halifax and the Centaur Theatre in Montreal.
Check your local (or favourite) theatre company’s website for details. I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of a podcast going on tour!
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