Welcome to August
as July ends

A look at events ended this past month and some upcoming shows

By Byron Toben

August 5, 2021

Few months have an opening song dedicated to it, except for June (which is forever busting out all over) and September (which has days slowly dwindling). I can’t find one for August, but it is Harvest time, so let the moon shine on as vocalized by the legendary Rosemary Clooney:

Below is what’s doing in the first two weeks of August – but, first, brief comments on some events which ended in July:

The Yiddish Renaissance – A Virtual Concert

This celebration ran from July 26 to 30. Arranged by New York’s Folksbiene Theater, it featured 140 actors, singers and musicians from around the world performing in Yiddish (mostly with English subtitles). Zalman Mlotek inspired the event and chipped in on the piano. Some of the selections were Fiddler on the Roof, On Second Avenue, The Golden Bride, Amerike The Golden Land and the Yiddish Pirates of Penzance.

Yiddish Pirates of Penzance

Yiddish Pirates of Penzance – Image: courtesy of the Folksbiene Theater

I remember seeing that Gilbert and Sullivan classic performed in Yiddish by the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre at the Segal Centre in 2015 and marvelled at how well the British to Yiddish translation fitted seamlessly in the tricky number of I Am the Very Model of a Model Major General.

Groups in Austria, Israel, UK and elsewhere joined the USA and Canada. Young people were also featured, proving that interest in the language prevents it from becoming a dead language. Spotted in the Zoom chorus were Montrealers Aron Gonshor and Brona Levy.

Just For Laughs

This annual comedy Festival, the world’s largest, was forced to go all digital last year. This year it managed to be “hybrid” with mostly free digital offerings but a few live events. Kudos for doing the best with the pandemic situation, but it just ain’t the same. Hopefully back to normal next year.

I didn’t take extensive notes on highlights, but two minor events tickled my funny bone. In the Awards category, won for Comedy Writers of the Year by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumalo, these two ladies gave credit to not the usual family and producers, but to their Apple laptops and Epson printer, as well as their refrigerator!

The Robbery Just For Laughs

The Robbery – Image: courtesy of Just For Laughs

Standing out in the Eat My Shorts film category was The Robbery, where two masked gangs raid a late-night grocery, simultaneously by chance, leading to a political argument as to who was first and entitled to the goodies before a trick ending.

Road Theater 12th Summer Playwrights Festival

This annual festival, now in its 12th year, is the largest such in North America. Based in North Hollywood, California, it presents dramatic readings of 25 selected new plays by a mix of professional actors and recent drama grads, similar to Montreal’s Infinitheatre annual Pipeline series.

Arthur Holden

Arthur Holden – Image: Nicolas Seguin

This year’s Road series ran from July 16 to August 1 and included Beloved, the latest play by Infinitheatre stalwart, Westmounter Arthur Holden. I watched it on July 30 and it is superb! It deals with a middle-aged couple whose beloved son runs into difficulty upon using his high school computer for scandalous purposes. Crisp writing, sometimes leaving it to the audience to fill in unfinished sentences, and gradual unpeeling of layers of background add to the suspense, culminating in a suicide attempt. 

And now, events continuing in or beginning in the first 12 days of August:

The Cordelia Dream

This Dublin production streamed by New York’s Irish Repertory Theater began on July 27 and continues to August 8. It weaves the background of Cordelia, King Lear’s frank and honest daughter (Goneril and Regan were the devious ones whose blatant flattery got them the kingdom) – into a modern-day tale. Free for those who cannot donate at this time. 

Strawberries in January

Live at the Hudson Village Theatre, it runs August 5 to 22, except Mondays and Tuesdays. This “romantic comedy with a Quebecois twist” features Julie Tamiko Manning, Ann-Marie Saheb, Quincy Armorer and Matthew Kabwe.

Directed by Dean Patrick Fleming, it bodes well to be a fitting return to live theatre after HVT’s packed outdoor attendance earlier in July in a garden down the road of Every Brilliant Thing. COVID protocols must be observed.

Fantasia Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad – Image: courtesy of Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia Film Festival

The 25th annual version of this genre film festival is mostly online, with a few indoor screenings included, and runs from August 5 to 25. Indoor screenings are limited to the Imperial Cinema and Cinéma du Musée – no Concordia screens as in the past.

Feature image: Martyr’s Lane, courtesy of Fantasia Film FestivalBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

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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