Heads Up:

June 9-13, 2021.

June 9 – 13, 2021

“I like to call it the one performance festival that never needed to pivot. […] It was ahead of its time.” – J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail


Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

From Soulpepper as part of their Around the World in 80 Plays Series:

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We are thrilled to have you join us for the final week of Around the World in 80 Plays, our eight-week global adventure of audio dramas, in-depth documentaries from CBC Ideas, and cultural highlights celebrating the global ‘canon’. This week we welcome you to Nigeria for the premiere of DEATH AND THE KING’S HORSEMAN by Wole Soyinka. This Nobel prize-winning play based on actual events in British-occupied Nigeria is available to stream beginning this Wednesday, June 9.

Presented in partnership with The Stratford Festival.

Thursday, June 10, 2021 7:00 pm

Marys Seacole

From Lincoln Center Theater

Membership   LincTix   LCT3   Visit   Accessibility

Private Reels: From the LCT Archive. Marys Seacole


MARYS SEACOLE, a “breathless and radiant new play” (NYTimes) from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of FAIRVIEW, is the story of an ambitious Jamaican nurse and caregiver whose adventures take her across oceans and eras, from a battlefield of the Crimean War to a contemporary urban playground, and many times and places in between.

Our acclaimed LCT3 production of MARYS SEACOLE premiered at the Claire Tow Theater in 2019. Written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, it features Gabby Beans, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Marceline Hugot, Karen Kandel, Ismenia Mendes, and Lucy Taylor.

100 minutes runtime. REGISTER NOW »


Review: 1812

by Lynn on June 8, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming until Wed. June 9 https://fosterfestival.com/shop/1812-reading-only/

Reading presented digitally by the Foster Festival, St. Catharines, Ont.

Written by Norm Foster

Directed by Jim Mezon

Cast: André Anthony

Mairi Babb

Ellen Denny

Jon-Alex MacFarlane

David Nairn

Patricia Yeatman

It’s June, 1812. Wallace Edwards (David Nairn) is a robust, good-natured man but he’s having trouble remembering his wife’s name, or any name for that matter. He was thrown from his horse and he lost his memory as a result, and his dignity I would expect. He tries to carry on but keeps forgetting that his wife is Millicent (Patricia Yeatman), their daughter is Caroline (Ellen Denny) and the maid is Henrietta (Mairi Babb). There were other servants too but they had to be let go because money was tight, and even though Wallace is the mayor of St. Stephens, New Brunswick, the salary is a pittance. Millicent does the best she can to economize. Wallace seems befuddled about everything around him, although he’s cheerful. Again, we have to blame all this odd behaviour on his dive from the horse.

Caroline, always resourceful, put a shoe on her own horse that morning. A neighbour heard about it and sent one of his men, (Ben Strong by name  (André Anthony)) over to see if he could lend a hand. Wallace and Millicent wondered how such news got around. Ben said that it was a small town and news does travel quickly. This is one of the sweet recurring jokes of Norm Foster’s play—everybody hears the news before it seems to be news. This would also provide one of the more poignant moments in the play, when news did not travel as quickly as it should have.

Over time Ben and Caroline would become close friends, often riding together on their respective horses. Ben was a courtly fellow. He was born and educated in England. His father was a ship captain transporting Black people from Africa to other places to be slaves. Ben’s father fell in love with one of the women he was transporting and took her to England where they married and had Ben. Ben was well educated and came to America. While Wallace was cordial when he met Ben Wallace was his usual gauche, insensitive self and asked, “Are you a Negro?” Yes, Ben was in fact a Negro and nothing more was made of that, except in a few beautifully placed Foster moments of supposition and jumped conclusions that land us squarely on our assumptions.

Ben became a welcome guest in the Edwards’ house. To help Wallace get back his memory, Ben taught Wallace Italian. The thinking was that having to learn and remember a new language would twig Wallace to remember what he forgot when his horse threw him, including Millicent’s name.  (This sounds like such a flight of Foster fancy, learning another language to get your memory back, that if in fact it is true, well fine, but Foster conjuring it is hilarious, as is.  

St. Stephens, New Brunswick is just across the bridge over a bit of water from Calais, Maine. The townsfolk of both small communities are great friends. Such good friends are they that the good people of Calais, Maine ask the equally good people of St. Stephens, New Brunswick if they can borrow some gunpowder for their July 4th celebrations, and their Canadian neighbours  happily obliged, even though war had been declared earlier in June. Actually the British and the United States were at war and Canada was mixed up in there too, but the people of the two neighbouring towns wanted no part of the waring animosity. It’s hard to avoid war when a militia is formed on the other side (all thought they didn’t have gun powder). So matters escalated.

This is a Norm Foster play so animosity and harshness are not strong points. Wisdom and humour are. So when characters on either sides try and one-up each other about what one side did to the other (quiet Canadians seem to have burned down an important white house on the other side) the reality is funny and sobering. Foster makes the strongest argument against war in his usual understated way, but he has Millicent voice it and that is resounding. When you least expect it, Foster sends zingers in the air that land right in your heart.

The cast is wonderful under the equally skilled direction of Jim Mezon. David Nairn plays Wallace with good-natured confidence but with an air that he might not be ‘reading the room’ as clearly as he should because of his accident. As Millicent, Patricia Yeatman is patience personified with a touch of exasperation. The closeness of the relationship between that husband and wife is clear in the playing of David Nairn and Patricia Yeatman. Caroline is an independent woman thanks to Mairi Babb performance of her. She can shoe a horse, stare down any man who dares to be over-bearing and is wise enough to meet her match in Ben. André Anthony plays Ben with great charm, grace and integrity. Director Jim Mezon realizes the nuance and subtlety in the script along with his smart cast.

There are weighty matters that are discussed in 1812 and Norm Foster accomplishes it in this thoughtful, funny moving play.


Streaming on stellartickets.com until June 7, 2021.

Plays on Demand.

Written by Adrienne Kennedy

Directed by Kenny Leon

Starring Audra McDonald

Warner Miller

Lizan Mitchell

Ben Rappaport

Adrienne Kennedy is an African-American playwright who is a towering pioneer in American theatre, writing about the Black experience in the United States,  although one would hardly know it, since her plays had been rarely done over time. That has changed of late. A few months ago Round House Theatre in Maryland had an on-line festival of four of Kennedy’s plays where I first saw them. They were introduced by the likes of Jeremy O. Harris, who considers Kennedy a mentor, and Michael Kahn, former Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C. who directed Kennedy’s plays at the beginning of her career and considers her a friend. The plays were a revelation. Alas they are never done here in Canada. One of the plays in that festival was Ohio State Murders.

Another reading of Ohio State Murders is being offered until June 7, as a fundraiser for the Actors’ Fund of America on demand. It stars the wondrous Audra McDonald reading the lead part of Suzanne Alexander.

The blurb on the play describes it this way:

“Ohio State Murders is an unusual look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S. when Suzanne Alexander, a fictional African American writer, who returns to Ohio State University to talk about the violence in her writing, a dark mystery unravels.”

As Suzanne Alexander, Audra McDonald’s reading of the character is tempered, the pace is measured, almost unemotional, considering the play is packed with emotion. Suzanne Alexander tells how in 1949 she was admitted to Ohio State University as an undergraduate. She loved English but knew that Black students would not be admitted to the program. She took a course in English Literature with a young professor who initially taught Thomas Hardy’s

“Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” Suzanne Alexander wrote a paper for that class and the professor questioned if Alexander wrote it, it was so brilliant. The veiled racism is evident. A relationship between student and professor developed. The story took many turns; there was violence, murder, expulsion, loss.   The quiet, deliberate performance of Audra McDonald as Suzanne only emphasizes the eye-popping resolution to the story. There is one section in which McDonald reveals Suzanne’s heart-squeezing emotion at what has happened to her that is both a surprise and devastating. She catches us unaware.  

Adrienne Kennedy has chronicled the racism that a Black person has experienced in America through her plays. Her characters are complex; the stories are rich in detail and perception; the language creates a world that has not improved really changed over time. Kennedy is brilliant.   Don’t miss this chance to hear the play and see this compelling performance by Audra McDonald.


Streaming on the Soulpepper Theatre website until June 30, 2021: www.soulpepper.ca

Written, directed and performed by d’bi.young anitafrika

Sound engineer, Mohammed Rowe

Audio producer, Matt Rideout

The Story and comment. She Mami Wata & The PxssyWitch Hunt by d’bi.young anitafrika is part of Soulpepper Theatre Company’s audio series, Around the World in 80 Plays. This one takes place in three locations in Jamaica, flitting back and forth in time, and deals with the stories of four friends from the time they were young children growing up to adulthood. The play deals with some pretty heavy subjects.

The four friends in the play are: Niki, Michael, Everdon and Kizzy. When Michael was very young his mother died under suspicious circumstances that we find out about late in the play. He was raised by a character known as Auntie Doris, the town dressmaker.  She also raised Everdon. The two boys were very close as they were with the two girls, Niki and Kizzy. A woman name Moddah Terza was very close to all four as children. They always went to her house for a story before school and because of that detour were always late for school.  Moddah Terza is the narrator  and the knower of secrets it seems.

We listen as the four young friends play joyfully, but then they discover their bodies, sexuality and how that awareness does not necessarily conform to their religious upbringing.  As the info on the plays says: “The drama explores the intersection of identity, sexuality, gender, religion, and (de)colonization.”

But in her own note, d’bi.young anitafrika is more direct: “The play centres on gender sexuality and the erotic life of the four friends, growing up in present day Jamaica, who are challenged to renegotiate their complex relationship under the ‘buggery’ laws—a colonial import of the homophobic British Buggery Act of 1533, which criminalized sex between men.”

The four friends had restrictive laws to adhere to as well as the oppressive rule of the church as expressed by the new pastor.  The play opens with a special Sunday service in the Church of the Righteous of Little Rock. (that’s Jamaica not Arkansas.) The new pastor named Paster M is to preach and the whole town of Little Rock is there. Sister Kizzy greets everybody. Brother Everdon is there too—he is described as a man who dresses to impress.  While the congregation is dutifully there, the sermon is fiery. Paster M chides anyone who is late—Everdon was late and Pastor M made a comment about it.  Paster M warns against garish dressing; the shade of shoes one can wear; that piercings are forbidden as are nose rings. (In a wonderful bit of irony, or perhaps a sneer at the church, playwright, d’bi.young anitafrika wears an impressive silver nose ring). So rather than being a stirring, inspiring sermon, it’s one of fire, brimstone and damnation if anyone gets out of line.

As the story progresses, we realize that as the friends grew up relationships changed and friendships were destroyed.  Some of the scenes take place in Kingston, Jamaica at the PxssyWitch, a “women only” club where Niki is the lead stripper.  

The Production. Because the play flits from place to place over various times, keeping track of where we are in the story could possibly be tricky. But director d’bi.young anitafrika has attended to that. There are specific sound cues for the different places and times, thanks to the artistry of Mohammed Rowe, the sound designer for this production. We know we are back in the children’s childhood when the scenes are introduced by the sounds of children laughing. We know we are in the PxssyWitch when we hear garish music and crowd noise. There are all sorts of hymns and music and church noise to place us there in the Church of the Righteous of Little Rock.

d’bi.young anitafrika plays every single part—all four children both as kids and adults; Pastor M; Doris and Moddah Terza. Again, the sound of echoes and different tones establishes if a voice is a woman’s or a man’s.  anitafrika speaks in a crisp, clear distinctive voice for every character and since it takes place in Jamaica the patois is pronounced but not challenging if you listen.

Much of the play is presented as a dub poem—a form of performance poetry that originated from dub music in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1970s.  I was mighty impressed with She Mami Wata & The PxssyWitch Hunt. d’bi.young anitafrika has packed the play with such rich language and expressions that she compels you to listen hard to pick up various turns of phrase.

The play does not unfold linearly but in bits and pieces. I was wondering if Kizzy is called “Sister Kizzy” and Everdon is called “Brother Everdon” early in the play does that mean they went into a religious life? No it doesn’t. “Sister” and “Brother” are expressions used for members of the congregation. As the play goes on the bits and pieces coalesce and the clear picture reveals itself.

anitafrika is a vivid, compelling, joyful performer who never shies away from tough subjects. She Mami Wata & The PxssyWitch Hunt  is part of a trilogy that explores queer black feminism, divinity, political activism and the black diaspora experience.   While I feel that writing, directing and performing the play is a huge accomplishment, I do believe that d’bi.young anitafrika could use an independent director to edit the writing and clarify some of the scenes. Somebody needs to tell the writer to edit and the director to get a stronger control on how it all plays out. An independent set of eyes would have been invaluable there, but I am still impressed with the boldness of the piece.

She Mami Wata & The PxssyWitch Hunt streams on the Soulpepper website until June 30, 2021:



Forgot this important film by Esie Mensah:


The Vision

TESSEL is a national initiative conceptualized by Dora-nominated choreographer and dancemaker Esie Mensah (ShadesA Revolution of Love), featuring the stories of 14 pioneering Black artists from across Canada, exploring the complexities of diverse movement and voice as a form of resilience.​

Premiering across the country on the one-year anniversary of Blackout Tuesday (June 1) – a day when organizations worldwide publicly expressed their commitment towards institutional change to support the Black community – lead commissioners and co-executive producers Fall for Dance North and Harbourfront Centre, along with 19 national co-presenters, aim to elevate Black dance artists of diverse genres from across Canada, placing a spotlight on their vital role and purpose in our artistic community. This momentous project is intended to be a journey towards change, and an archive of Canadian Black excellence.

“What began as a 7-hour discussion between 14 Black dance artists from across the country, has been beautifully distilled down into a spiritual calling, a tessellated journey through the cycles of healing. This film has taught me to trust the voice that I have within. As a choreographer, the industry can place limitations on who you are even though the vision you have for yourself is so much greater. I’ve been spending many years doing the work to unveil myself as an artist whose creations can shift across disciplines. TESSEL is a reflection of my artistic work and my commitment to share the stories we need and not the stories we want. I am grateful to have done this with 13 artists that trusted me to bring this vision forward.

The necessity to share our voices and not just our bodies is how we ensure these artists feel heard and seen. You will see each of us dance in our respective styles: together, apart; unapologetically, emotionally, and truthfully. Hear us speak to one another; harmonizing, calling in, and lifting one another. This film is intended to be a journey towards change, an archival of Canadian Black excellence, and a sliver of truth that many have not been privy to. May you watch with an open heart, mind and spirit and allow the journey of TESSEL to wash over you like water.” – Esie Mensah


Streaming on the Soulpepper Theatre Website: www.soulpepper.ca Until June 30, 2021.

By Guillermo Verdecchia

Freely adapted from Farid Ud-Din Attar’s The Conference of the Birds

Directed by Soheil Parsa

Sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne

Audio producer, Gregory Sinclair

Cast: Raoul Bhaneja

Augusto Bitter

Oliver Dennis

Christef Desir

Liz Peterson

Arsinée Khanjian

Jani Lauzon

John Ng

Beatriz Pizano

Bahareh Yaraghi

The Parliament of the Birds is another splendid addition to Soulpepper’s audio series, Around the World in 80 Plays.

The Parliament of the Birds is based on the 12th century Persian poem Conference of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar, freely adapted by Guillermo Verdecchia, a Canadian playwright, director, educator, mentor and theatre maker (born in Argentina), and directed by Soheil Parsa, who is Canadian-Iranian, and performed by a truly international cast. Everything about this audio production bursts with life, urgency and cultural references. It is both centuries old and as contemporary as tomorrow.

A group of various birds (Crow, Sparrow, Parrot, Nightingale, Duck, Falcon, Cardinal and Pigeon and others) have come to hear Hoopoe speak. She has an urgent message about their diminishing world.

“We need to talk”, she tells the group. “The world we made is in great trouble. Oceans are sick. The air is poisoned. The clouds are dying. Everywhere I look I see troubles, sorrow, violence, terrible fights over scraps of land, over a handful of grain.”

There are objections to her expressions of truth. Disagreements break out between the birds. Parrot says, “They’re killing my kind, daily.”

Again Hoopoe puts it in perspective: “We can’t go on like this: flock against flock, each against all. We cannot talk without bursting into disagreement.”

Her solution is for the assembled to go on a journey and seek enlightenment and change the way they are. They are seeking wisdom in Simorgh, the king of kings, the leader of birds, or just human enlightenment.

The Parliament of Birds is of course an allegory of our turmoiled world: climate change, racism, war, despotism, intolerance and the search for a better existence. Each bird displays a human fault that should be addressed. Animals or birds etc. as allegories on human behaviour is nothing new: Animal Farm by George Orwell for example.

Guillermo Verdecchia’s bracing, vivid, compelling adaptation of Farid Ud-Din Attar’s original poem beautifully captures the thrust and lunge of the anger that permeates the modern world. There is reluctance of the birds to go on the journey but they accept that something must be done to care for their wounded, angry world. On the journey, animosity turns to consideration, care, selflessness. Revelation results, as does hope.

Soheil Parsa directs his excellent cast with care, sensitivity and a determined fearlessness not to back away from the ugliness of the story. In the end the result is poignant. Jani Lauzon as Hoopoe is impassioned and desperate to convey the message. Christel Desir beautifully expresses Parrot’s consuming anger at being considered “lesser” by Oliver Dennis’ haughty, impatient Crow. Augusto Bitter portrays the meekness of Sparrow while Beatriz Pizano plays a thoughtful, considerate Cardinal. Behareh Yaraghi illuminates Pigeon’s gentleness, with a touch of wisdom.

Thomas Ryder Payne has created a soundscate that suggests the wind, the harshness of the weather, the difficulty of a bird flying and the sounds of a world at war with itself. The Parliament of the Birds gives us a difference lens (from Iran) to view our world.

The Parliament of the Birds streams on the Soulpepper website until June 30, 2021.



Wednesday, June 2, 2021

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We are thrilled to have you join us Around the World in 80 Plays, our eight-week global adventure of audio dramas, in-depth documentaries from CBC Ideas, and cultural highlights celebrating the global ‘canon’. This week we welcome you to Jamaica for the premiere of SHE MAMI WATA & THE PXSSYWITCH HUNT written and performed by London-based dub poet, theatre interventionist & decolonial scholar, d’bi.young anitafrika. Available to stream beginning this Wednesday, June 2.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

MH370 is now boarding!   CLICK HERE TO EXPERIENCE MH370!
May 31 to June 15 For the best audio experience, please use headphones.
While there is both a mobile and desktop experience, we recommend using a laptop or desktop for the most full-featured version of the installation.      Coordinating remotely with over 40 outstanding artists during the pandemic, fu-GEN Theatre is proud to present the durational, immersive and interactive audio installation MH370. Comprising over 1100 intricately connected pieces, this audio installation is unlike anything fu-GEN has   attempted before. The 7 hour and 40 minute project runs around the clock from May 31 to June 15, allowing listeners to choose their own audio journey among the 227 passengers on board.   
   “With the circumstances of the pandemic dictating our modes of creation, we wanted a project that was intended to be consumed digitally and at home… while maintaining the unique theatricality that has become emblematic of our experimental work,” says fu-GEN’s Artistic Director David Yee.MH370 provided us with the opportunity to work with a landmark number of artists from across the country in a way that felt vital and urgent, leveraging the platforms we have available to create together while being, by necessity, apart. This project has been a constant negotiation of new ways to create and deliver artistic content, developing new technology that centers the art and the audience experience, consistently innovating and evolving our artistic practice.”      MH370 is a digital feat that balances theatricality, intimacy and technology, challenging and pushing the boundaries by questioning how theatre persists during a global pandemic. With immersive audio soundscapes and a deceptively simple online apparatus, MH370 examines the experience of loss and erasure as people move between states; whether it be culture, geography, or navigating personal relationships. Audio content is constantly in flux, the same passenger will have different content depending on when you listen during the 7 hour and 40 minute flight time. As each listener will make their own personal choices of who to follow and when, each person’s experience of this installation is exceptionally unique and almost impossible to repeat, invoking the ephemerality of theatre… or a vanishing plane.   CREDITS:
Eva Barrie, Derek Chan, Jeff Ho, April Leung, Coleen MacPherson, Yago
Mesquita, Rachel Mutombo, Christina Orjalo, Sepehr Reybod, Jennifer Villaverde, David Yee
Arlen Aguayo-Stewart, Andrea Bang, Myles Botten, Jasmine Chen,
Adrian Choong, Emma Ferreira, Vienna Hehir, Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks, Cameron
Kneteman, Eponine Lee, Richard Lee, April Leung, Milton Lim, Michael Man, Marina
Moreira, Natasha Mumba, Christina Orjalo, Marissa Orjalo, Sepehr Reybod, Jobina
Sitoh, Jovanni Sy, Johnny Wu, Lindsay Wu, Conor Wylie, Raugi Yu, Mo Zeighami
Anton Sukhovatkin
Michelle Bensimon
Anthony Abbatangelo
Eric Michael (Super Always)
Thaddeus Pun

Thursday, June 3, 2021 7:00 pm


february: a love story

Winter. A date. Outside. He wants commitment. She wants a good time.

I saw it when it streamed before, elsewhere.  It’s wonderful. My review of that previous showing: http://slotkinletter.com/2021/02/review-february-a-love-story

Join us for a Live Viewing Party on Thursday, June 3 at 7pm EDT

He’s looking for feelings, she’s looking for a rebound… To stave off the pandemic blues, two mismatched millennials try their hand at “short-distance dating,” but can they?

Thursday, June 3, 2021. 8:00 pm

Broadway on Demand.

Ohio State Murders

By Adrienne Kennedy

Starring Audra McDonald.

Telecharge   Streaming This June

By Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Kenny Leon
Starring Audra McDonald, Warner Miller, Lizan Mitchell, Ben Rappaport
Date: June 3rd, 2021 at 8:00PM ET

Ohio State Murders is an unusual look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S. When Suzanne Alexander, a fictional African American writer, who returns to Ohio State University to talk about the violence in her writing, a dark mystery unravels. Tickets

By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
Starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline
Date: June 17th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET

Based on the compiled letters between poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, Dear Elizabeth maps the relationship of the two poets from first meeting to an abbreviated affair – and the turmoil of their lives in between. Tickets

Sunday, June 6, 2021. 6:30 pm

Streamed reading of


By Norm Foster

Foster’s 1812 is this week!

‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Foster Festival

1812 by Norm Foster

Two towns. A bridge connecting them and a border dividing them.

When the war of 1812 breaks out, the neighbouring border towns of St. Stephen, New Brunswick and Calais, Maine are reluctant to go to war against each other. The people in each community have built life-long friendships – freely crossing the bridge that connects them for daily visits. Literally overnight, the war quickly redefines their world as they know it and their lives are forever changed. Through humour and Foster’s trademark witty dialogue, 1812 examines the meaning of friendship, love and loyalty.

Quote from play: Wallace “I have to read, Marjorie. The doctor encourages it. He says it will sharpen my mind.” Millicent: “It’s Millicent , darling”

Join us on Sunday, June 6 for a LIVE streamed reading of Norm Foster’s new play, 1812. And if you can’t catch the reading live, don’t worry, you will have access to the replay for 72 hours.

Reading Start Time 
6:30PM (ET)

The play/reading is in Two Acts, with a 10-minute intermission. Total running time is approximately 2 hours.

An exclusive streaming link will be emailed to you on the morning of Friday, June 4 so you can test the link a day in advance.


Five For Foster

Norm Foster talks about his new play, 1812 !

We loved chatting with Norm Foster about his new play, 1812. It was so interesting we had to share it with you, Foster Fans.

Foster Festival Artistic Producer Emily Oriold, and Canadian Playwright Norm Foster, discuss how Norm came up with the idea of 1812, his inspiration for writing this play, and the upcoming LIVE reading. 

Watch this newest episode of five For foster on YouTube.


The sale or other issuance of any ticket is final and non-refundable. An online link will be emailed to you the morning of June 4, 2021. The email will come from admin@fosterfestival.com. Please add the email address to your contacts list to prevent the email from going to your junk/spam folder.


Arkady Spivak, the Artistic Producer of Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie, Ontario doesn’t seem to be aware that there has been a crippling pandemic for the past 14 months. He creates theatrical initiatives that keep employing and paying actors (what a concept!), that engage audiences and keep the artform alive. His latest scheme is this humdinger:


TIFT Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced today the programming of The Bees in the Bush Festival, featuring twelve eclectic in-person productions. Running from August 3 to October 3, 2021, all programming will be performed at outdoor locations – using parks, conservation areas, residential backyards and more, for a reduced in-person audience and with observance of current COVID-19 protocols.
The Bees in the Bush will include several productions reconfigured for an outdoors presentation, as well as boundary-pushing new works and a return of TIFT’s hit musical-in-concert in a new setting. Six world premieres will also be produced, including the musically infused cabaret based on a Greek legend; a documentary-style interactive collection of migration stories, created by DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT); an experimental performance piece created by Simcoe Contemporary Dancers; an intimate but amplified one-person musical discussion; an immersive installation using augmented reality technology; and an explorative piece about one of history’s most divisive figures.
As previously announced, all programming will be free, and subject to TIFT’s booking policy available at www.tift.ca. Talk Is Free Theatre supporters are offered exclusive booking privileges starting on June 15, 2021. Bookings will be open to the general public starting July 5, 2021. 
Further Details of the Bees in the Bush Festival programming   August 3-8, 2021, several engagements between 5 and 7pm
I & I
World Premiere
Written and dramaturged by
Daniele Bartolini and Anahita Dehbonehie
with personal stories of newcomer artists
Directed by
Daniele Bartolini and Danya Buonastella
A DopoLavoro Teatrale – DLT production  
The confrontation of the self of the immigrant before and after leaving their motherland I & I is a poetic, documentary style collection of migration stories, memory treasures and rituals from different cultures where you are invited to get close and personal with a world of newcomers.   Created by Italian born Daniele Bartolini, Italian-Canadian Danya Buonastella and Iranian born Anahita Dehbonehie with a group of newcomer artists, I &I provides an opportunity of encounter for citizens of different cultural backgrounds, shining light on the life experience of newcomers to Canada.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 4.
Performance duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Venue: Sunnidale Park, Barrie
  August 5-8, 2021 at 6pm
Written by
Wajdi Mouawad
Translated by
Shelley Tepperman
Directed by
Alon Nashman
a Theaturtle production, in partnership with Shakespeare in Action  
“A Runaway Theatrical Success” – J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe & Mail
Alphonse is lost, walking along a country road, weaving an intricate web of stories, while everyone is searching for him: parents, friends, teachers, the police. What they find is the thing we often give up in order to grow up.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 20
Performance duration: 70 minutes
Venue: A private residence at 801 Big Bay Point Road, Barrie, outdoors
  Aug 11-14, 2021 at 6pm
Written and performed by
Maja Ardal
Directed by
Mary Francis Moore
Designed by
Julia Tribe  
Maja Ardal returns this summer with You Fancy Yourself, the prequel to last season’s sold-out production of Cure for Everything.
You Fancy Yourself is the story of young Elsa and her attempt to fit into a tough world after immigrating to a new country. Touring for the last 10 years across Canada and through England, the production is acclaimed for portraying the world of childhood with humour and tenderness, in a way that people of all ages can relate to.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 20
Performance Duration: 60 minutes
Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 23 Theresa Street, Barrie.  
  August 16-29, 2021 at 6pm
Written and performed by
Katherine Cullen & Britta Johnson
Directed by Aaron Willis
An Outside the March Production  
 “…riotously funny, musically charming, and emotionally resonant… a perfect blend of humour, heart, and soul.” – Kingston Theatre Reviews
A dyslexic backyard musical about not being alone.
This is a show about learning that no matter who you are, you’re not alone. After successful runs at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2017 and Kingston’s Kick & Push Festival in 2019, Talk is Free and Outside the March are teaming up with Cullen, Johnson, director Aaron Willis and designer Anahita Dehbonehie to reimagine that message for our collective isolated purgatory.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 16
Performance Duration: 90 minutes
Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 1076 Winnifred Court, Innisfil  
  Aug 19-22, 2021 at 4pm
in Concert
Book by
James Lapine
Music and lyrics by
Stephen Sondheim
Directed by
Michael Torontow
Music direction by
Wayne Gwillim
Choreography by
Lori Watson
Set design by
Joe Pagnan
Costumes by
Laura Delchiaro

Sound Design by
Josh Doerksen
Noah Beemer, Aidan deSalaiz, Griffin Hewitt, Richard Lam, Jamie McRoberts and others  
“…the star for me is Director Michael Torontow. What he created was a clear reading of the musical that was inventive in its presentation, creative, illuminating and accomplished in realizing Sondheim’s difficult piece.” – Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter
Nestled whimsically within one of Barrie’s beautiful forest parks, TIFT’s hit production of Into the Woods returns by popular demand in a new outdoor setting for a unique and magical experience.
Enjoy the masterful songs of Stephen Sondheim and become immersed in the fantastical world of these beloved Brothers Grimm characters as they search for their ‘happily ever after’.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 50
Performance duration: 2.5 hours, including one intermission.
Venue: Springwater Provincial Park  
  August 25-28, 2021 at 6pm
World Premiere
Written, directed, and performed by
Griffin Hewitt
Original text by
Original music by
Juliette Jones
Assistant direction and dramaturgy by
Giovanni Spina  
What happens when we allow a debaucherous and morally indifferent goat-man to take hold of one of our oldest stories of good and evil?
Cyclops: A Satyr Play takes Euripides’s only surviving Satyr comedy, and using music, dance, games, good wine, good food, and everything else you need for a good time, engages the audience in a journey to find what makes us truly free.
  This production is also part of the Eternal Ego Festival
Maximum audience capacity per performance: 16
Performance Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 16 Lougheed Road, Barrie  
  September 1-4, 2021 at 7:30pm
World Premiere
Written by and starring
Brendan Chandler
Dramaturged and Directed by
Maja Ardal  
This new short play explores aspects that surround the legend of Rasputin, the historical figure whose life and actions are shrouded by rumour and hearsay. Was Rasputin wicked, was he good or was he neither? A divisive character in Russian history, Rasputin gained considerable influence with Tsar Nicholas II and their relationship is one of mystery and allegation.  Set in the afterlife, witness the story of Rasputin and Tzar Nicholas II as they meet for a date.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 25
Performance Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
Venue: The Beth Foster Floating Auditorium
Located between Southshore Centre and Minet’s Point  
  September 8-11, 2021 at 6pm
Written and directed by, and starring
Roy Lewis
Creative Adviser
Marti Maraden  
“Roy Lewis instills so much joy in the telling, makes the words sound delicious and makes us fall in love with the beguiling Nat Love.” – Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter
Poet, actor, storyteller, Roy Lewis takes us on a cattle drive with legendary African American cowboy and raconteur Nat Love. Join Roy as we explore together this forgotten history of the late 19th century, from the end of American Civil War, the freeing the African Slaves, the expansion of the Railroad and the killing of the buffalo. This is an impressionistic vision in prose song and poetry. I See The Crimson Wave is a vivid reimagining of the old west which comes to life in the captivating persona of Roy Lewis.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 14
Performance Duration: 55 minutes
Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 59 Shanty Bay Road, Barrie  
  September 10-12 and 26 2021, various times
World Premiere
Process Facilitator
Sarah Lochhead
Jaqui Brown, Casey-lee Cooper, and Eligh Zimmerman of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers
Creative Technologist
Max Lupo
The Base – Rich Aucoin, Remixed sound samples of The Base – Rich Aucoin
Source files courtesy of Aucoin
A Simcoe Contemporary Dancers production  
What happens when our live experience of performing and witnessing are mediated by technology while simultaneously dependent on our presence in the shared physical space? You are invited to be part of a performance experiment. Your presence in the space determines the sequence of events. A solo performer responds in real time to the sound cues activated by your location as read by a 360 radar. The dancer’s movements are in turn interpreted by a device that will activate a signal inviting you to find a new spot in the space — creating the next sequence of events.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 6
Performance Duration: 25 minutes
Venue: MacLaren Arts Centre Courtyard, located at 37 Mulcaster St, Barrie.  
  September 15-18, 2021 at 9pm
Written by
Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
Libretti by
Bertolt Brecht
Musical Composition by
Kurt Weill
Directed by Richard Ouzounian  
Based on Mahagonny Songs, a series of five poems written by Brecht, Mahagonny-Songspiel is a small-scale scenic cantata, created by two of the 20th century’s most accomplished and versatile creative minds. This ground-breaking collection of songs set in motion the long running relationship between Weill and Brecht whose collaborations would take Germany and the world by storm. 
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 25
Performance Duration: 30 minutes
Venue: The amphitheatre behind the Southshore Community Centre, located at 205 Lakeshore Dr, Barrie  
  September 22-25, 2021 at 8pm
World Premiere
Conceived by and starring
Michael Torontow  
Michael Torontow loves a good post-show talkback. You know, that rare opportunity after a performance when artists share secrets about the show, the process, and themselves.
Torontow {After Dark} is this intimate gathering but amplified, when Michael–director of TIFT’s Into The Woods and leading actor in The Curious Voyage, Every Brilliant Thing, The Music Man, Candide and Floyd Collins—invites you in to relax, hear some stories, some great music, and indulge your curiosity.  
Maximum audience capacity per performance:16
Performance Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Venue: Five Points Theatre, located at 1 Dunlop Street West, Barrie  
  October 1-3, 2021 at
World Premiere
Based on the folklore written by
Alexander Afanasyev
Created and Artistically Led by
Joe Pagnan
Movement Directed by
Clarke Blair
Composition by
Richard Lam
Narrated by
Glynis Ranney  
Walk into the woods to retrace steps taken by a heroine of Russian folktales. Find out What She Burned this fall in an immersive installation using mid-century bootlegging techniques fused with modern augmented-reality technology. Inspired by a children’s story about a young woman facing an evil witch in the woods, this piece has dark elements and is experienced in intimate groups no more than four.
  Maximum audience capacity per performance: 2 per viewing.
Multiple viewings are available throughout the day of the performance.
Running time: 30 Minutes
Venue: Location in Barrie to be announced at a later date.
Details: www.tift.ca


Times are desperate for the arts in Ontario. Please help to change that.

Advocacy: Join the Campaign for Fairness for Ontario Arts

In the coming days and weeks, Ontario senior officials will meet to determine the specific regulatory details of the Roadmap to Reopen which was announced on May 20, including the offices of Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and public health officials.

Presently, this three-step plan does not give Ontario performing arts organizations the ability to prepare for re-opening, prohibits the safe capture of digital content, and does not reflect regulatory fairness with other peer industries. 

By intent or oversight, the Ontario government is, indisputably, keeping performing arts venues in the Stay-at-Home order until July.

It is our understanding that the decisions made over the next few days will be locked in until the end of the summer and – as critically – sets precedents for our fall/winter seasons. Our ability to reopen outdoors this summer, generate digital content and ensure a timely Fall reopening is directly contingent on these closed-door conversations.

It is imperative that we make our voice heard as an industry and that we rally arts lovers across Ontario to demand regulatory fairness now.

On May 26th, you were invited to co-sign a letter that was sent to Premier Ford, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. In the last few days, efforts to elicit a response and changes have been unsuccessful. 

The time is now for all Ontario performing arts organizations, artists, employees and audiences to act in unison. On Monday, May 31 we are launching a public campaign: Campaign for Fairness for Ontario Arts (#FairnessForArtsON) including letter-writing, social media swells, and extensive media coverage. The urgency in in timing is to ask you to please send on Monday, May 31. Ontario is home to the country’s highest concentration of performing arts workers and many millions of arts audiences. Let’s make some noise.

In preparation for this day, we ask you to help with three-time sensitive initiatives. We also ask you not to undertake any of them until Monday, May 31:

  1. Go to https://canadianlivemusic.ca/fairnessforartson/ on Monday, May 31 to send letters to the Premier, Ministers, MPPs, municipal leaders and representatives from you and your staff.   Enter your name and postal code, and the site will automatically send your message (using pre-generated text) to your local representatives.
  2. Create a social media post (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to launch MONDAY May 31 using the hashtag #FairnessForArtsON

    Click here to download the #FairnessForArtsON wordmark image to include with your post .

    Click here for customizable text for your post.
  3. Prepare an email to send to your database of audience members on MONDAY May 31 asking them to participate in our campaign that day.

    Click here for a sample email to send to your patrons including a link to customizable social media text for them to use as well as the #FairnessForArtsON wordmark image.

Time is of the essence. Our experience over the last year has demonstrated that the arts have been left behind by this government again and again, with other industries receiving preferential treatment. Monday is the moment to make our voices heard. 

Thank you all for your engagement and participation.


Filmed in the Ballroom of St. Lawrence Hall.

By George Frideric Handel

Libretto by Carlo Sigismondo Capece

Conducted by David Fallis

Directed by Marshall Pynkoski

Choreography by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg

Set and art director, Gerard Gauci

Film director and editor, Marcel Canzona

Audio production by Matthew Antal

Head of wardrobe/designer, Michael Legouffe

Cast: Colin Ainsworth

Carla Huhtanen

Meghan Lindsay

Allyson McHardy

Douglas Williams

Plus the artists of Atelier Ballet

And the musicians of Tafelmusik

Note: As with any opera I am not ‘reviewing’ the singing or dancing of The Resurrection because they have a different vocabulary that I would not presume to comment on with any justice.  I will be commenting on the theatricality of the piece. Also consider this as an appreciation of the artistic gifts of director Marshall Pynkoski and choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and their creation.

The debut of The Resurrection, (La Resurrezione) Handel’s liturgical opera in Rome in 1708, and Opera Atelier’s debut of the film this past week in 2021 are echoes of each other.

In 1708 in Rome, due to papal restrictions during Lent, Handel was forced to move his production to Palazzo Ruspoli in the main hall (the Marchese Ruspoli was Handel’s patron).

In 2021 in Toronto, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Opera Atelier was forced to move their production of The Resurrection out of the theatre and into the ballroom of St. Lawrence Hall and film it following safety protocols.   

The Story. The story takes place between Good Friday when Christ was crucified and Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ. It is the story of good vs evil, faith vs despair. Lucifer (Douglas Williams) rages that he fell from heaven to hell and takes credit for Christ’s death. He is challenged by an Angel (Carla Huhtanen) who is as determined as Lucifer to thwart his intention to spread havoc on earth. In the meantime Mary Magdalene (Meghan Linsday)  and Cleophas (Allyson McHardy), who both loved Christ, lament and mourn his death, until St. John the Evangelist (Colin Ainsworth) announces that Christ will rise again in three days.

The Production. As always with an Opera Atelier production, The Resurrection shimmers with elegance, detail, artistry and beauty.  Director Marshall Pynkoski, choreographer, Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and their design team have created the scope of the world of Handel’s opera with the simplest of furnishings. Gerard Gauci has created a stair formation with an imposing gold bird on the front to provide a place of power for both the Angel and Lucifer. A sumptuous curtain of folds covers the tomb where Christ lay—St. John touches it delicately in reverence. Light illuminates the space both subtly and obviously. In many scenes we can see the hazy light beaming head on and in other scenes the illumination is from the sides.

A quibble is that while watching this digitally, the lighting is a bit too dark in some moments to make out what is actually happening, but these moments are few—still it is the difference between being ‘in the room’ with the production, and watching it electronically.  

In a nod to the safety precautions the dancers stream on in billowing white gowns for the women, white tights for the men and all of them wear matching facemasks in white. Later to suggest the joy and celebration of Christ’s resurrection the dancers wave huge swaths of powder blue billowing material again, wearing facemasks in the same blue.  

Even if a viewer is not familiar with the ballet of the period, choreographer, Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg makes one note the stance, arm placement and formality of the dancing.

Marcel Canzona’s filming of the event captures the sweep, grandeur and emotion of the piece. There are wonderful aerial shots of the ensemble as well as filming them face on. It was interesting to note that Lucifer was filmed often from below so that he looked more imposing and dangerous.

Comment. A detailed program of information is available on line, as is the libretto and the translation. Opera Atelier thinks of everything to give the viewing audience the best experience. Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, co-artistic directors of Opera Atelier, have the guts of a bandit. They have seen COVID-19 dash their plans for a dazzling celebration of their 35th season, 2020-21. Instead of doing two operas they adapted and created a varied program entitled Something Rich & Strange (available for streaming until June 10, details at operaatelier.com). When they were ready to take The Resurrection into Koerner Hall for rehearsals, they lost the theatre because of COVID-19 restriction. Again, they adapted and filmed the production. Their drive, tenacity and determination to bring art and beauty to their growing audiences is impressive—the guts of a bandit.

The Resurrection is available for viewing until June 10.