June is busting out with free streaming selections

Online theatre events and festivals make self-isolation culturally bearable

By Byron Toben

“June is busting out all over” sang the large chorus in the 1956 Rogers and Hammerstein film musical Carousel.

And indeed it is even in our continued self-isolation made culturally bearable by a host of free streaming theatre events and festivals.


Stratford Festival (Ontario)

Under the title of “From Stage To Screen”, it has made 12 productions available from the opening date until about 3 weeks later. After that, the expired free shows are still available but at a rental price of about $4.99.

The five now expired free shows available on-demand are Coriolanus, King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew. (I particularly recommend King Lear with Colm Fiore as the ageing monarch, who like Trump, rewards insincere flattery and is vindictive toward more reticent expressions.)

All the shows have the usual excellent acting, direction and imaginative staging that our Stratford not on Avon is famous for.

Continuing or coming up in June are these 7 titles:

The Tempest (running until June 4)
Timon of Athens (running until June 11)
Love’s Labors Lost (running until June 18)
Starting June 4Hamlet (running until June 25)
Starting June 11King John (running until July 2 )
Starting June 18The Adventures of Pericles (running until July 9)
Starting June 25Antony and Cleopatra (running until July 16)

I recommend all of them, but of special note are The Tempest which features Martha Henry as the male protagonist Prospero. She is well known to Segal Centre audiences.

And The Adventures of Pericles, a rarely performed play with the usual fine actors, especially leading lady Deborah Hay.

King Lear -

Colm Feore in King Lear – Image: courtesy of the Stratford Festival

Not a Fringe

Although the popular annual St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival has been cancelled for 2020, the busy folk at its Mainline Theatre headquarters have organized a “Not a Fringe” virtual counterpart running from June 11 to 21, with the schedule to be announced on June 1. Thanks, Amy Blackmore, Kenny Streule and gang.

Bloomsday Montreal Festival

Bloomsday Montreal Festival, the largest in the world outside Dublin, will go online from June 12 to 16. Its Zoom and YouTube format highlights are:

June 12 – Opening Ceremony remarks by Michael Kenneally, Principal of Concordia’s Irish Studies program.
June 13 – Bloomsday Concert (song, music and verse), hosted by former CBC news anchor Dennis Trudeau.
June 14 morning – Tour and history of Irish Montreal led by Donovan King.
June 14 afternoon – Reading by playwright Colleen Curran of her latest, The Sunset Gals.
June 15 – Academic panel. Concordia’s Irish Studies hosts John Mc Court (Trieste Joyce School) and Marcello Zabaloy (translator of Joyce into Spanish)
June 16 – Actual Bloomsday!
11 am – Special cast of readers of parts of Ulysses.
2 pm – Highlights of the Festival culminating in the famous Molly Bloom dramatic night-time musings. 

James Joyce -

James Joyce – Image: Ben Ledbetter, Architect via

Infinitheatre playwright chat room series

During this lockdown period, Infinitheatre has been busy asking viewer assistance in developing new scripts by Quebec playwrights against the day when all returns to “normal”.

So far, seen on its 5 pm Thursday chat rooms (and available retroactively) were:
King of Canada by Paul Van Dyke
Imminent Domaine by Oren Safdie
The Silent Woman by Alexandria Haber and Ned Cox

Coming up in June are:
June 4Black Dog by Marianne Ackerman
June 11Nickey’s Café by David Sherman

Golda’s Balcony -

Tovah Feldshuh in Golda’s Balcony – Image: Aaron Epstein


Segal Centre

Segal Centre features Lisa’s Nightcap on Mondays at 9 pm. In these chats, artistic director Lisa Rubin chats with persons involved in past Segal Centre shows. All are lively and informative. Past chats are available. I enjoyed the one with Tovah Feldshuh who starred as Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony.

Centaur Theatre

On Saturdays at 2 pm, Artistic Director Eda Holmes hosts its “Saturday Salon” in discussions with participants in past centaur shows. Again, prior discussions available.

I enjoyed Jackie Maxwell, AD of Shaw Festival on May 16 and Roy Surette, former AD of Centaur, now head of Touchstone Theatre in Vancouver, on May 30. Coming up on June 6 is Micheline Chevrier.

In addition, Centaur adds suggestions from its staff, great and small, as to internet shows they recommend to its viewers during this difficult period.

Parasite - Bong Joon-Ho –

Frame from the movie Parasite

Hudson Village Theatre

Like Centaur, HVT, on its weekly “Staff Picks”, posts occasional suggestions from its Artistic Director Dean Patrick Fleming, President Kalina Skulska and its subscribers for Internet gems to bide away the time for now.

It was through HVT that my attention was drawn to the “Stay-at-Home” film series co-sponsored by TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) as the curator and CRAVE from its extensive film library. They are preceded by a Q & A at 7 pm (EST) followed by the film itself at 7:30 pm.

I can’t wait to see the Tuesday, June 2 presentation of Academy Award winner Parasite.

Feature image: Antony and Cleopatra – courtesy of Stratford FestivalBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Read more articles from Byron Toben

Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’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.

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