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CULTURE AFTER COVID-19

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THEATRE REVIEW

It feels like the end of civilization as we know it. For more than a year the cultural events we were used to, theatre, opera, concerts, ballets, museums, art galleries and so many others have been shut. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a highspeed train. Culture is about to reassert itself as a communal part of our lives.

Ontario is still locked down but the numbers are getting better and hope is on the horizon. Mirvish is holding its breath about shows and dates but is clearly ready to jump in once the lockdown is lifted. They even promise to bring back the smash hit Hamilton within 18 months. A lot more, a lot sooner. Go to mirvish.com for more information.

The redoubtable Tarragon Theatre is not sitting on its laurels. During the lockdown it is streaming acoustic productions of past successes. Half Life, Helen’s Necklace and Scorched are examples of past productions that you can access. Their 2021-20221 Acoustic Season starting in September includes these plays:    Sibs by Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt, Leaving Home by David French, The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod,  Half Life by John Mighton, This is War by Hannah Moscovitch, Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad Democracy by John Murrell and 7 Stories by Morris Panych.

Tarragon is going live full force in January 2022 starting with The Runner, Three Women of Swatow and Light. Go to tarragontheatre.com for full details.

Soulpepper, the best theatre for classical drama, has launched the ambitious audio programme called Around the World in 80 Plays.  When was the last time you heard works from Russia, India, Argentina, Jamaica, Iran, Nigeria and Italy? Starting April 21, 2021, Soulpepper will offer eight plays a week and will run until June 30, 2021. You can access all the productions for almost a pittance. Full information is available on Soulpepper’s website: Soulpepper.ca.

The Stratford Festival has been anything but idle in the past year. There are dozens of filmed performances and features available at stratfordfestival.ca/AtHome. It’s not the same as a live performance but it is still bloody good.

That is not all. They are planning a 2021 season of six plays and five cabarets under a tent! They will offer Rome and Juliet (which they call R + J), A Midsummer Night’s Dream;  Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women and Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters; and two new plays, Serving Elizabeth by Marcia Johnson; and I Am William, with text by Rébecca Déraspe, and music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry. Go the Stratford’s website https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/landingpages/2021Season for full details.

The Shaw Festival has six plays on the boards: The Devil’s Disciple, Sherlock Holmes and The Raven’s Curse, Charley’s Aunt, Flush, Desire Under the Elms and Trouble in Mind.  There are many other activities. Performances of the plays begin on July 9, 2021 with Charley’s Aunt. Their website has up to date information:  https://www.shawfest.com/

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for London’s theatres to open as of May 17, 2021. They have started doing just that and with any luck we may be able to go to England. But don’t book your ticket yet unless you can be sure you are  allowed to return to Canada without being quarantined. The same applies for trips to the United States where Broadway theatres are about to open.

The human and economic devastation wrought by Covid-19 is incalculable. With vaccination and common-sense precautions we may be able to return to some normality where people can return to work, the economy can rebound and cultural events can return to normal levels.