Plum Viewing

Maggie Fairs
3 min readMay 28, 2021

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

Well, this week, in my part of the world at least, we went from needing air conditioning to needing heating, all in one fell swoop. Oh, Canada… Thank goodness for a short week and of course, Friday night cocktails. I suspect tonight might just be a mezcal evening because WHY NOT!

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

If you have not already listened to the sheer joy that is Dolly Parton’s America, I am officially jealous because you have no idea how much happiness awaits you!

Brought to us by the lovely people at WNYC (New York City’s public radio), it is a nine episode podcast series by producers Jad Abumrad (Radiolab) and Shima Oliaee where they explore how Dolly took centuries-old music traditions and rewrote the scripts from a woman’s point of view. We hear from Dolly experts (there are MANY!), Dolly’s relatives and friends (hello Jane Fonda!) and we hear from Dolly herself who is interviewed in nearly every episode. Dolly is a powerhouse business woman and a phenomenal songwriter and storyteller who is truly in a category all her own. My god, it is SO good!! You can listen for free here.

Next, let’s move to another female powerhouse (we are growing!), Phoebe Waller-Bridge, aka Fleabag. I suspect most of us have watched both seasons of this brilliant show (OMG, Hot Priest!!). Now, we can view the original stage performance of Fleabag, which started as a monologue performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2019, the National Theatre had the good sense to record her revival of this monologue, which was performed to a sold out audience (lucky people!). It is streaming on Amazon Prime as part of a partnership with the National Theatre (so smart!), which will also include Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch; Frankenstein with Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (Mr. Fairs and I saw this and it is SO good!!) and Ian McKellen’s 80th-birthday solo show. All are available from June 11. Set your calendar now! And, as a treat for our new readers, here is the clip of Hot Priest (aka Andrew Scott) hoping the floor will swallow him up on Graham Norton.

“The Niceties” is a story of a white university professor and a Black student who start discussing opinion and sources in an academic paper — then their exchange spins out of control, building toward a chilly ending. Written by Eleanor Burgess (another woman powerhouse), it was first performed as part of Manhattan Theater Club’s 2018 season and is now streaming on their website from May 27 to June 13. You can learn more here.

I love this! New York Theater Salon and the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater are presenting a free, globe-spanning festival featuring works by immigrant artists and troupes based outside the United States, as well as events that provide opportunities for worldwide exchanges and discussions. The season runs from June 1–9 and you can learn more here.

London’s Royal Opera House has worked wonders during the pandemic to open up new, live performances and past productions for an audience at home. Its grand reopening show, 21st-Century Choreographers, features Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, a new duet by American star choreographer Kyle Abraham and two shows, The Statement and Solo Echo, by Canada’s very own dance-theatre sensation Crystal Pite. 21st-Century Choreographers is available from today to June 27. The Guardian newspaper is a fan. Here’s their review.

And, let’s end on a happy note. Live music is slowly but surely coming back. Pink Martini, who are an absolute joy to see live, have already sold out over 20 of their planned performances in the U.S. this summer. So, I will leave you on this hopeful note, Happy days are here again, performed by the incredible Storm Large and China Forbes. Enjoy!

See you next week my lovely readers!

And, and 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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