Plum Viewing

Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to enjoy online.

Hello lovely readers. Welcome back! I have missed you!

I hope everyone has spent the past four weeks enjoying everything we now can, including get togethers, restaurants, travel and of course theatre! I would love to hear what you’ve seen and what you loved this summer!

And, a quick note. With more and more venues opening (yay!) Plum Viewing will continue, but we will-dare I use that actual word - “pivot” (I know, I can do better and I hear you judging me — quite rightly). I’ll continue sharing online recommendations and also recommendations for things to see IRL (as the kids say; in real life for us olds) and I might throw in the odd book recommendation because why not?!

So with that, here are this week’s picks…

The New Georges is an innovative theatre troupe based in NYC, founded and currently run by women (As far they’re concerned George is a badass woman). In 2020, they tested an online theatrical experience involving a party held in spreadsheets (2020 was indeed a strange year!). Well, satisfied that it was weird and wonderful enough to be shared, it is now ours to be enjoyed, where else, online. The show is interactive, though it’s very easy to simply be a wallflower. Think of it as ‘dipping your toe’ back into the social milieu that is cocktail conversation. So with that introduction, I give you Future Wife: Party in a Spreadsheet. It runs from Sept 17–20 for free and you can reserve our spot here.

The National Arts Centre is back with a full calendar of performances to suit whatever taste you might have. Let’s start tonight with Marie-Clo, a singer-songwriter and dancer whose style is described as “eclectic indie pop that tackles current themes & conscious lyrics, but also conjures a colourful and enchanted world.” Sounds like a lovely soundtrack for Friday night cocktails. It’s streaming tonight at 8:30 pm for free. You can tune in here.

Party In/The Garden is the signature event of Minneapolis’ Walker Art Gallery. Every year it’s held in the gallery’s beautiful and art-filled garden featuring the ironic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Mr Fairs and I had the pleasure of attending when we lived in Minnie and it’s so much fun. Well, this year, in keeping with the times, the Walker is offering both a live and an online experience. Happening on Sept 18, it starts with a short film featuring Julie Mehretu and Angela Two Stars, then we move to a dance party in your backyard with a playlist curated by DJ Shannon Blowtorch and Questlove. And, speaking of Questlove, have you seen his documentary Summer of Soul yet? If not, DO. It is so good. And, Register here for the Walker’s free Party In/The Garden event.

Oh, I do love a good true crime (and there is nothing wrong with that — she says). So imagine my delight to see that on Sept 15, the Toronto Public Library is hosting Nova Scotia author Dean Jobb to tell the real-life story of a Canadian doctor who stalked and murdered women, first in Canada, then Chicago and then in London, U.K. The Lambeth Poisoner, as he was dubbed in the press, became one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Jobb’s books offers an inside account of Scotland Yard’s desperate search for a killer as brazen and efficient as Jack the Ripper. Needless to say, I have already registered. Here’s the link to do the same (for free!)

I have said it before and I will say it again, there is no better place to enjoy live and now online productions than the Stratford Festival. This summer they hosted so many wonderful and joyful performances. For anyone lucky enough to go in person, you know just how magical it was to once again see things live. For those of us not so lucky, there is Stratford@home, the glorious online archive of these incredible performances, which is such a joy, for just $10 per month. Many of this summer’s gorgeous performances, including their Cabaret series, are now available online. So much to explore and enjoy!

And, let’s end with a book recommendation. My current obsession is Hamlet by Maggie O’Farrell. Oh goodness, there are no words to properly convey the beauty of this book. Let’s start with the basic premise: we meet a young woman in 1596 who is on the verge of meeting a slightly younger man (often described as the Latin tutor). The story weaves us through each of their childhoods, their marriage, the birth of their children and the heartbreaking death of one child, Hamnet. What the author never mentions is the name of the father (the Latin tutor) who is of course, William Shakespeare. Part of the beauty of this book is that our real hero is Anges (Anne), Shakespeare’s wife who is described in almost myth-like qualities with language that makes the reader fall head over heels in love with her. The writing is exquisite and the story, which is wholly original, is both beautiful and devastating.

I honestly can not recommend this book enough and would LOVE to chat about it with fellow readers. Do let me know. Plum Readers!!

Enjoy and see you next week!

And, an ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!

And, if you’d like to receive Plum Viewing weekly, send me a note at maggiefairs@gmail.com and I will add you to my mailing list.

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