Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to enjoy online.
Hello lovely readers. Plum Viewing is back this week and on time — a miracle indeed! I’m not sure about everyone else but for me at least, this has felt like a very full week. Mr Fairs and I will definitely be enjoying our Friday night cocktails tonight. I hope you have equally lovely plans with a beverage of choice. In fact, as it is December and there is an endless array of Christmas lights to greet me on my daily walks, we might even enjoy a French 75 tonight!
With that, here are this week’s picks:
I shared this last week but it’s definitely worth mentioning again as it officially starts today. Every year for the past 35 years, the Walker has hosted the British Arrow Awards, which celebrates the bold, eclectic and ever-changing world of British advertising. Ranging from adverts that advocate for social change to laugh out loud comedy moments, this event is a hoot! Mr Fairs and I went every year in-person when we lived in Minneapolis and had a blast. And, lucky for us, this year, the Walker is hosting both in-person and online screening of this celebrated tradition. Starting today and playing until January 10, the running time is 74 minutes and tickets are $15. Pour yourself a pint of whatever takes your fancy and settle in. You can reserve your ticket here.
The Opéra de Montréal is presenting the webcast of one of its most celebrated productions, Carmen de Bizet. This version, first performed in 2019, was the result of a collaboration with Quebec filmmaker Charles Binamé and features an all-Canadian cast. We see mezzo-soprano Krista de Silva as the famous bohemian, the tenor Antoine Bélanger in the role of brigadier Don José, baritone Christopher Dunham plays torero Escamillo and soprano France Bellemare, will sing the role of Micaëla. Tickets are $25 and can be reserved here.
The book Passing by Nella Larsen is on my Christmas booklist (a list that is currently very, very long list!). For readers not familiar with Passing, here’s the premise: first published in 1929, it is set primarily in Harlem. The story centers on the reunion of two childhood friends — Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield — and their increasing fascination with each other’s lives. The title refers to the practice of “racial passing,” and is a key element of the novel as Clare attempts to pass as white for her husband, John (Jack) Bellew, leading to tragic events.
This book was the inspiration for the just released Netflix film directed by Rebecca Hall, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and it was the book choice of our favourite online book club, WNYC’s Get Lit. On Thursday, Get Lit’s host Alison Stewart interviewed the director Rebecca Hall about the experience of making Passing and how Hall’s own family background mirrors that of Clare and Irene. It’s a wonderful discussion and we can enjoy it for free here.
Our friends at New York Theatre Workshop are back with another hit production, which lucky for us, is now available to stream. In this one woman play titled Sweatshop Overlord (what a title) comedian Kristina Wong holds court and we are hooked. As Wong let’s us know at the beginning, when we see her get up from her Hello Kitty sewing machine where she has been making face masks, this is a play about the pandemic. Here is Wong’s opening line, “This show takes place in the pandemic. I know. I know! Now you get to find out if watching live theater about the pandemic, during a pandemic, is your thing. And because it’s set in the pandemic, there are mentions of death, illness, poverty, mental health stressors, racism, trauma. And, the last U.S. president.” And, with that, she is off. I have it on good authority (thank you Lisa!) that this is a show not to be missed. You can stream it here.
Toronto’s Factory Theatre continues its online only season with Acts of God, which is streaming until Dec 4. Written by David Yee and directed by Nina Lee Aquino, it “tells a story about the power of belief, the disillusionment of youth and the eternal struggle between good and evil.” It’s available to stream for free on Factory Theatre’s website, which you can access here.
And, of course, there is no way we can end this week’s Plum Viewing without mentioning and paying tribute to the great Stephen Sondheim. His impact is beyond measure and words, so I won’t even attempt to do either. Instead, I will reshare a tribute that will make us cry, laugh, sing along and be eternally grateful that we had the privilege of living in this great man’s world. Here’s a link to ‘Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration’
And, here is a video of the Broadway community honouring Sondheim on Sunday in Time Square with what else,’Sunday’ from ‘Sunday in the Park with George’’
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!
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