Stage Door News

Toronto: CBC Arts announces its virtual arts listings for the week of May 18

Monday, May 18, 2020

The widespread isolation and social distancing of COVID-19 has hit Canada's arts communities as hard as any other. World premieres were cancelled, juggernaut Broadway imports were brought to heel, gallery shows big and small were shuttered and promising new works missed their first shot at finding an audience.

But Canadian artists are a resilient bunch. Without skipping a beat, they've taken to the virtual stages that the rest of us are glued to 24/7. And we're here to help you find them!

Each week, CBC Arts will put out a new list of the best live streams, art classes, talk series, festivals and more. (Our friends at CBC Music are keeping track of live streamed concerts, and over at CBC Books they've got a list of online children's book readings.)

Know about a great event coming up? Drop us a line at


  • Queer, Far, Wherever You Are (5pm weekdays, ongoing): Canada's largest LGBTQ theatre Buddies in Bad Times is curating a digital performance and blog series to help bring some quality queer content to the comfort of your homes (er, phones). 
  • Glad Day TV (ongoing): The world's oldest LGBTQ bookstore has taken what was once its physical programming and turned it into virtual TV channel with multiple times to tune in each day. There are over 20 events a week, which includes drag shows, comedy specials, readings, workshops and more. Check out this week's schedule here
  • The Canadian Play Thing (ongoing): The Canadian Play Thing is a virtual 100-seat live theatre, where audiences gather to hear actors read plays by Canadian playwrights — emerging and professional. Admission is free to audiences and there is no charge to participate as an artist. Where workshops, readings, and productions in rehearsal have been cancelled for reasons of social distancing, the Play Thing provides a temporary home for theatre families to reunite and share their work.
  • DLT Theatre (ongoing): Together with Istituto Italiano di Cultura, DLT is launching "Theatre On-Call," a festival of performances that occur over the phone. All performances will run on a Pay What You Can basis. 
  • Citadel Theatre (ongoing): Edmonton's Citadel Theatre is presenting the "Citadel Stuck in the House Series," a series of live performances from Edmonton artists who have lost income due to cancelled projects or gigs.
  • Urgnt Live (7pm ET Fridays, ongoing): This live series was created to support Toronto-based musical artists and DJs being affected by the cancellation of all live events. A crowd-funded endeavour, its hope is to raise resources and recognition of these performers. Performers include Skratch Bastid and Clairmont the Second.
  • TO Live (ongoing): TO Live is presenting "Living Rooms" featuring local Toronto artists performing from their homes.
  • Soulpepper's Fresh Ink (ongoing): In a new virtual series called Fresh Ink, hear readings of new works by several playwrights at an event hosted by Weyni Mengesha, Frank Cox-O'Connell and Guillermo Verdecchia. Check on the Soulpepper website to get the link to Zoom on Friday.
  • Second City House Party (ongoing): Live streaming improv and sketch comedy twice weekly. Check out their website for lineup information.

Art classes and tutorials

  • Curtain Up (various days to May 20th): Curtain Up is a series of free acting workshops for junior and senior performers being offered by a variety of professional actors. No experience required!
  • Donald Robertson (ongoing): Toronto-born artist Donald Robertson is posting cheeky art classes out of his California studio in his signature bright, poppy style. Try your hand at a Kermés bag!
  • Canadians Create (daily): Edmonton-based artist Amy Dixon and calligrapher Brittany Dakins launched this online Facebook group where artists across Canada will be hosting 30-minute live art tutorials and "paint-alongs."
  • The National Ballet of Canada (ongoing): Principal dancers Jurgita Dronina, Guillaume Cote and Heather Ogden are delivering ballet classes from home. Check the National Ballet and Dronina's Instagram accounts for class times and updates. Her first class was an hour-long workout — on pointe! 
  • Mend It (7:30pm ET Wednesdays): Toronto-based designer Emily Nicole Neill has created a virtual weekly workshop where people can work on hand-sewing skills, mend clothes and make new friends. Up this week? Learn how to repair socks!
  • Sandra Dumais's illustrator workshops (2pm ET Tuesdays & Thursdays, ongoing): When social distancing went into effect, Canadian illustrator Sandra Dumais started her own virtual art school, and though the class is technically for kids, she attracts students of all ages. 
  • Bead With Me! (ongoing): Live beading classes with Nalakwis, the Indigenous artist behind the #beadthisinyourstyle challenge.
  • Esie Mensah (7pm Thursdays): Every Thursday, join celebrated dancer and choreographer Esie Mensah for her AfroWine dance class delivered directly from her home.

Talks series, movies and festivals

  • Hot Docs at Home (Thursdays): Following the postponement of the 2020 Hot Docs Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a small selection of exclusive first-run feature documentaries that would have debuted at the Festival will now premiere on CBC, the free CBC Gem streaming service and documentary Channel. CBC will also partner with Hot Docs to expand the at-home audience experience with interactive, livestreamed Q&As with filmmakers and other original digital content at CBC Docs. 
  • Social Distancing Festival (ongoing): A self-described "TV Guide of exquisite art," the Social Distancing Festival is Toronto playwright Nick Green's response to the raft of cancelled and postponed shows around the world.
  • TIFF Stay at Home (7pm ET Fridays, ongoing): Miss watching movies with other human beings? TIFF is here with a new weekly screening series and conversation. Every Friday at 7pm, Cameron Bailey sits down for a Q&A with someone connected to the selected film of the week and then you get to watch it on Crave and tweet about it with everyone else whose tuned it. This week Oscar-winning actor and activist Geena Davis steps up to the plate to introduce this sports-comedy classic A League of Their Own on May 19th. More here.
  • Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival (ongoing): The reimagined virtual festival features a wide array of programming including various video and photographic works profiled on line, conversations with artists, curator reading lists and more.
  • Virtual Paradise Theatre (ongoing): Toronto's newly restored Paradise Theatre may be shut down for the time being, but they've risen to the occasion by teaming up with New York-based distributor Film Movement and industry group Arthouse Convergence to bring art house movies to your homes. Check out this week's lineup here.
  • Revue Cinema and Designing the Movies (ongoing): As part of their Designing The Movies series, the Revue Cinema is hosting live tweet-alongs to films.  More details are on their Facebook page.
  • Humpday With Hampshire (Wednesdays, ongoing): Hosted by Schitt's Creek star Emily Hampshire, this weekly virtual talk series interviews with celebrities in their natural habitats — "be it their bedrooms, kitchens, garages or closets. They'll share advice on how to get through this unprecedented time with humour, kindness — and your sanity intact."
  • iskwē (7pm ET nightly): Every night, the award-winning musician iskwē is hosting a series of Instagram live conversations from her living room called, appropriately enough, Live from My Living Room, with guests drawn from the music and arts worlds (appearances so far have included Lights and Anthony Carone of Arkells).
  • Rose Beef Turns To The Internet With: Nihilism (8pm ET Mondays, ongoing): Featured on the most recent season of CBC Arts series Canada's a Drag, performer and activist Mikiki is taking to the internet on Mondays with paint-alongs, readings, sermons, hijinks and virtual screenings of The Golden Girls.
  • Remote Art Talks (ongoing): Artifier and Partial Art Gallery are presenting Remote Art Talks, a web series focused on artists.
  • Neptune Theatre (8pm ET, Tuesday-Friday): Off the Leash is a series of conversations with Neptune Theatre's artistic director Jeremy Webb and a special guest each night. They'll discuss their connection to the Neptune, their careers and their ideas for the future.

Dance and viewing parties

Virtual exhibits

  • Aga Khan (ongoing): The Aga Khan has launched a 3D virtual tour of their Bellerive Room, and they have more lined up to come. Visit their website to see the online collection of their archives and for their full #MuseumWithoutWalls program.