Festivals and other events
from June 10 to 20
The Fringe and Bloomsday are back plus offerings from Gingold, Red Bull and Irish Rep
By Byron Toben
Lots of action in the next ten days.
First, though, a sad cancellation. The feisty Tableau D’Hôte live presentation of Shorelines, scheduled to begin on June 10 and run until June 20 at a multi-level empty parking garage in Verdun, has been cancelled due to ever-changing provincial regulations on public gatherings.
Hopefully, this may evolve into a postponement until conditions allow at a future date as the subject (rising flooding of coastal cities) seems timely. However, other events continue.
Began June 1 and continuing to June 20
In 2020, the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2021 it has re-emerged to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a few live performances and many streamed shows. The live shows take place from June 9 to 20 while the streamed shows have already begun, lasting until June 20.
I am limiting my viewing this year to the streamed English (or bilingual) shows although there are, as usual, several excellent French language performances. The live shows are at five venues, with masks and social distancing required. These are sold-out or filling up fast.
Here are the five venues with their pre-COVID seating capacity:
Petit Campus – 300 (150 if cabaret style)
Monument National – Studio Hydro Quebec 150 – La Balustrade 55
La Chapelle – 116
Mainline – 102
The advantage to the performers of the streamed shows, all available on FRINGE TV, is that instead of the usual six live performances each, they get an unknown multiple of viewers by being on demand for about 20 days.
Individual tickets have a $2.50 added on for government taxes and service fees. Thus an initial quote of, say, $7.50 becomes $10.00 when check out arrives. A $1.00 tip for the festival itself is encouraged and well earned, as the actors receive 100% of the basic price.
Viewers can purchase “passes” for tickets:
Ménage à trois: 3 tickets for $36
Gold: 6 tickets for $72
Platinum: 10 tickets for $115
Carte Blanche: Unlimited tickets for $250
Individual tickets without a pass average $10 per show. Pass purchasers also receive encore performances on-demand as well as repeats from the 2020 This is not a Fringe and 2020 dance videos from Bouge d’Ici.
My annual picks “sight unseen”
Harder to list this year without the benefit of voluminous paper press releases to mull over. Using my oft-quoted gambler’s credo, “Don’t bet on the horse, bet on the jockey,” I select those with writers, performers, directors with past success. So out of the ten English-language streamed shows, I suggest two:
Alright: Solving the problem of living
Created and performed by Nisha Coleman, who impressed with her Self Exile at the 2016 Fringe, followed by her book Busker and other Fringe and TV appearances.
Featuring Jacqueline van de Geer, well known for her many solo avant-garde shows as well as being a former director of the Westmount community theatre, Dramatis Personae. Here, her role of Mother Bliss is balanced by Jordan Prentice and Lila Bata as 1 and 2.
The script, by Xander Barth, is a horror story, influenced by British Sarah Kane and French Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty.
List of English live shows by venue
As a convenience to viewers, here are the 11 live shows in English listed by venue to consider seeing two or more at the same place, thus reducing COVID encounters and orange cone construction obstacles.
Black Casper: No Justice, No Peace
Knife Fight X
Matt Enos and the River Men
Slasher (one-man show)
Choral Poetry Project
Self Made/Auto Fait (bilingual)
Where is Anton?
June 10 and 17
Film publicist (and increasingly, historian) David Novek continues with Part 3 of his 4 part “class” on his favourite Hollywood musicals. Lots of fascinating clips, many rare. Sponsored by the Cummings Centre. Part 4 concludes the series on June 17.
June 10, 12, 15 and 17
New York’s Gingold Theatrical Group, best known for its superior selection of G. Bernard Shaw plays, has instituted a Speakers Corner series of new plays in progress readings, similar to Montreal Infinitheatre’s Pipeline series. I recently saw its June 5 selection, The Apiary, and that of June 8, Karma Sutra: Chai Tea, both to be reported on later.
Coming up, all at 7 pm are;
The Scold’s Bride on June 10
Untitled Conspiracy Play on June 12
Vigil-Auntie on June 15
There Goes the Neighborhood on June 17
The series Speakers Corner is inspired by that part of Hyde Park in London where Shaw and others (Karl Marx, Winston Churchill) honed their speaking skills on controversial subjects in the latter half of the 19th century. Anyone could speak, no curating, so sort of an intellectual Fringe precursor.
June 12 to 16
Bloomsday Montréal, the largest in the world outside of Ireland, celebrates its 10th anniversary, celebrating the day in James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel, Ulysses, when the protagonist, half Irish half Jewish Leopold Bloom wandered around Dublin (June 16, 1904). Free, donations appreciated. Reservations required.
Streamed highlights include:
June 12 at 2 pm – Margie Gillis in a new dance based on Molly Bloom’s famous reverie
June 13 at 2 pm – Dennis Trudeau hosts a musical concert.
June 14 at 10 am and 1 pm – Academic panels
June 15 at 11:15 am – History of Irish Cinema (Joyce once operated the first movie theatre in Dublin)
June 16 at 11 am – Reading of portions of Ulysses
June 16 at 2 pm – Kathleen Fee again reads the famous Molly Bloom reverie.
The excellent Red Bull Theater continues its array of Jacobean playwrights with the comedy Volpone (or the Fox) by Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s contemporary and drinking companion at the Mermaid Tavern.
Excellent performers as in Jonson’s earlier serious play, Sejanus – His Fall, previously reviewed by me with my added history of Roman emperors over 500 years. But Volpone’s plotline should be easier to follow than Sejanus, as no familiarity with ancient Rome is required.
Don’t miss this one! The wonderful New York Irish Repertory Theater streams its annual gala to celebrate its 32nd year. The Indomitable Irishry takes its title from a phrase in a poem by W.B. Yeats. Free, although donations welcome (and deserved).
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.