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

Here are this week’s picks. Happy viewing!

Today’s newsletter is coming to you a little earlier because there is a truly delightful Friday afternoon treat to be enjoyed. Ottawa’s own Kathleen Edwards is performing her new album, Total Freedom, live with her band at her very own coffeehouse, Quitters. There is seriously no better start to your weekend!

Kathleen, I am very happy to say, has been praised far and wide recently for not only her new album, which is gorgeous (and the perfect companion to your favourite bottle of wine!) but for her decision to return to the music world, having left it in 2014 to open Quitters. I have missed her music dearly and am thrilled to have her back! She is performing at 3 pm ET and you can watch her here. And, for more Kathleen, check out her Tiny Desk performance on NPR. So, so delightful!

How far will we have to go to top that performance you ask? Well, as it happens, to the other side of the world. In fact, to the Sydney Opera House. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this world treasure broadcasts a combination of live and archival performances. This weekend we are blessed with three very special performances to enjoy:

Friday, we have Amon Tobin: Beyond 3D ISAM — Live at the Sydney Opera House. On Saturday, Ensemble Offspring: Mesmerism (Live). And, on Sunday, we finish with a premiere — Guwanyi Walama: Kids Tour, a treat for the whole family.

And, if this piques your interest, Sydney Opera House has a wonderful digital season to be explored. This is definitely a rabbit hole worth going down!

The Roundabout Theatre is genuinely one of my favourite theatres in the world. Even their not so great performances, like their revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (sorry Ewan McGregor, I SO wanted to love it!) can bring joy. Allow me to wander down memory lane for a moment and drop a few names along the way :) I went to opening night of The Real Thing, where the great Mike Nichlos, who was the first to direct this play, was chatting with his star Christine Baranski (the magnificent Diane Lockhart to us mere mortals). It was, as they say, a New York moment but I digress (and I thank you for allowing me to relive that moment!!)

So, with this history in mind, let’s visit the Roundabout Youth Ensemble (RYE), a student-led theatre company modelled after Roundabout’s professional theatre production process. The class of this year have written, designed, and are performing in the virtual world premiere of Hidden Truths, an original play, inspired by Othello, that is a contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s work. Tune in to the world premiere and witness this unstoppable group of students August 14–18.

At this time of year, many of us would be eagerly awaiting the buzz coming out of Edinburgh, a city that graces us with both the Fringe Festival and the International Festival. Remember, it was at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival where we first met Fleabag. Can we even imagine a life before Hot Priest — no we mustn’t!!

While the streets are quieter this August, the International Festival is busy online with a full month of digital activity, including archive performances and two new short films shot in the Festival theatre. The first, Ghost Light brings together performers from a string of National Theatre of Scotland hits including Rona Munro’s The James Plays and Frances Poet’s Adam, as well as showcasing future projects. The second is the Scottish Ballet’s Catalyst, choreographed by Nicholas Shoesmith. Here, masked dancers flood the festival stage to the sound of Ben Chatwin’s hypnotic music. The full festival is online until 28 August.

I have been a long time fan of Susan Orlean. I LOVED Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman’s delightfully bizarre retailing of her wonderful book, The Orchid Thief. It even made Nicholas Cage likeable! Well, this incredible storyteller recently took it upon herself to be the voice of ALL OF US during this pandemic when she launched a very drunken and equally entertaining tirade on Twitter. If you aren’t already, do follow her. She is truly hilarious. Here she is discussing her latest book, “The Library Book”, which has been described as a love letter to reading.

It’s been awhile, so let’s end back at Joe’s Pub, which is really where all good evenings should end. While its landmark venue is temporarily closed, we can enjoy wonderful shows from their archive, like this one with Shamarr Allen, who is the definition of New Orleans cool. He has performed with everyone from Willie Nelson to Harry Connick Jr. to Lenny Krvatiz (now, that’s a dinner party waiting to happen!) and he has his own band, Shamarr Allen & The Underdawgs. Here is his most recent performance at Joe’s Pub.


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.