Toronto-based playwright Susanna Fournier, best known for her ambitious Empire trilogy of plays, was the victim of a COVID-19 cancellation back in April, when the world premiere of a double bill of plays of hers called Always Still the Dawn was called off at Canadian Stage.
But that Toronto not-for-profit theatre company still has Fournier’s back: This week, it is premiering a new audio experiment of hers called What Happens to You, Happens To Me on its website.
Described as “not a podcast,” Fournier’s text takes the form of a “questionnaire” or a “mindfulness exercise” – and is narrated by the award-winning actor Kristen Thomson (I, Claudia). Thomson speaks to you, the listener, in an inquisitive mode that reminded me of her performance in Every Brilliant Thing back in 2018. “What kind of story are we in? Is it new? Is it repeating itself?”
In its meditativeness, direct address and earnest, straightforward title, What Happens to You, Happens to Me reminded me of an online show I experienced early on in the pandemic: Good Things to Do by Christine Quintana.
Stripped of their theatres, theatre artists seem to want to create virtual spaces in the often overly frenetic online world we spend too much of the day in to slow down and be contemplative (to “stop doomscrolling,” as Canadian journalist Karen K. Ho advises her followers every day).
In a similar vein, Alan Dilworth, artistic director of Necessary Angel and a long-time meditation practitioner, has created a venture online called The Stillness Room – based on IRL stillness rooms he has previously run at the Stratford Festival and Soulpepper Theatre Company. Strangers can gather for 15 minutes of stillness, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. ET. You can register for these free sessions through Necessary Angel’s website. Whatever keeps you sane in these challenging times.
There are only a couple of weeks left in the Stratford Festival’s free online film festival. They’ve saved one of the best for last: director Chris Abraham’s 2015 production of The Taming of the Shrew starring Deborah Hay and Ben Carlson as Kate and Petruchio.
The production begins with a very funny twist on the play’s strange opening “induction” in which Carlson interrupts the show from the audience, playing a “theatre blogger” who is angry that the actors aren’t doing the play exactly as written. There are inside jokes galore in his rant – including references to Abraham’s 2014 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and my review of Stratford’s 2012 production of Much Ado About Nothing, in which I praised Hay’s performance as Beatrice at length and barely mentioned Carlson’s performance as Benedick.
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