Plum Viewing

Maggie Fairs
4 min readJul 9, 2021


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

Hello lovely readers. You will have noticed that there wasn’t a Plum Viewing last week. In light of both Canada Day and July 4, I thought we could all use a bit of a break from our computers. I hope everyone enjoyed time with family and friends and lots of time outside. Mr Fairs and I certainly did. One day, we even went out for lunch and dinner. Yep, we pushed the boat out that day. And, it was glorious!!

So, on that happy note, here are this week’s picks. Enjoy!

Chicago’s Goodman Theatre is opening for in-person performance later this month (oh, I smiled so widely typing this!) but for our viewing pleasure, they are also still streaming performances. Starting on July 15, we have the premiere of I Hate It Here, from acclaimed playwright-and-director duo Ike Holter and Lili-Anne Brown. Described as “sharp and satisfyingly foul-mouthed” by The New York Times, it’s a theme on which I suspect all Plum readers can agree: 2020 was not the best start to the decade. Gulp! It’s streaming from July 15–18 and you can reserve your ticket here.

Here’s another world premiere from our friends at the Prairie Theatre Exchange: Voice written and performed by Ismaila Alfa (known to many readers as the host of CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning). Here’s how Voice came to be: Ismaila, a journalist and a hip-hop artist was born in Nigeria but grew up and made his home in Winnipeg. Last spring, while in Toronto for a job interview (Metro Morning host) and physically separated from his kids, two events changed the world: the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd. So Ismaila wrote his first play — a heartfelt, raw blend of powerful prose and poetry with the rhythm of hip hop — to use his voice to help his daughters find theirs. This powerful performance is streaming until July 11 and you can reserve your ticket here.

Okay, now this is a REAL treat as it is literally in my back garden (well, close enough). The multi-talented Orchester Métropolitain in Montreal performed at the top of Mont Royal (the very same hill I try to conquer every Friday after writing this newsletter, with the Friday night cocktail as my reward, but I digress…).

This concert, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, was recorded this summer with the beautiful skyline of Montreal as a backdrop. Magnificent. Watch it for free here.

Before Mr Fairs and I lived in NYC, we visited a lot (like, a lot!) and during one of these visits, we were lucky enough to stumble on this gem of a theatre, 59E59. And, as chance would have it, for our first visit, they were hosting East of Edinburgh, a production offered in partnership with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. How lucky were we!! Needless to say, we became members (even before we moved there!) and look forward to this festival every year. Well, last year it did not happen (boo!) but this year it’s back and virtual (yay!), so we can all enjoy it!!

Here’s how it works: it’s a virtual showcase streaming nine Fringe-worthy productions on demand, so you can watch at your convenience. I’ve scanned through this year’s selection and they all look great. I suspect I might start with MARRY, MARRY, QUITE CONTRARY. Here’s the description: “Cameras. Wine. Spanx. When three women form an alliance on a reality TV dating show, lunacy ensues. Join Julie, Taylor, and Bridget as they find love in this devised pastiche of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” true crime, and all things tequila-drenched-love-obsessed-pop-culture-horror.” You had me at tequila!

The festival is streaming from July 15 -25 and you can reserve your pass here.

As we await Broadway’s reopening (the Boss is already there — of course he is!), let’s warm up with this: The New Classics: Songs from the New Golden Age of Musical Theater. It’s a one hour and 10 minute cabaret featuring some of Broadway’s most beloved songs, old and new. Grammy-nominated David Chase is musical director and pianist and he’s joined by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. The perfect backdrop for your evening tipple in the garden. Watch for free here.

And to end, here’s a clip of a live performance that took place last week at Feinstein’s/54 Below, that most sacred of places. We know that as an audience, we are excited to see performances again but this is evidence of just how much performers have missed the energy of the crowd. This is Storm Large (yep, that is her real name!) performing as only she can (she is a powerhouse live!) and the audience loved every minute. I can not wait.

See you next week my lovely readers!

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!

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