Canadian Stage has unveiled an ambitious summer of outdoor arts programming at the High Park amphitheatre. Usually the staging ground for the annual summer tradition Shakespeare in High Park, the Toronto theatre company is set to open the space up to the broader arts community with a stunning lineup of productions and one-night events from concerts and stand-up comedy to full theatrical productions and films.
Everything is, of course, tentative and subject to public health measures. But for a city starved of culture, the announcement is huge.
“This summer brings us to a critical moment for arts and culture in this city,” says Canadian Stage artistic director Brendan Healy. “We hope to be entering a period of recovery and healing from the pandemic. We are all feeling tentative and yet are yearning for art and connection. What we wanted to do with High Park this summer is share it — share it in a way that meaningfully takes action on commitments we have made in the last two years and share it in a way that facilitates the beginning of this recovery period — not just for us but for the community at large. The result, we believe, will be a really thrilling and inspiring summer season that will offer something for everyone.”
The traditional summer season at the amphitheatre will be extended from June until the end of September with programming under the Dream in High Park banner, a throwback to 1983 when the annual summer theatre event got underway.
“The name really encapsulates the fundamental spirit of the park,” Healy says. “The amphitheatre is a space for our city’s imagination and dreams: a space where stories come to life and a space where we get to dream up worlds together while surrounded by this stunning natural environment.”
The full line-up right now from Canadian Stage is listed below with all pertinent details. Tickets will go on sale once outdoor performances are allowed to resume, and prices will vary.
LULAWORLD IN THE PARK (June 29-30)
A Canadian Stage and Lula Music & Arts Presentation
Lula Music brings the sound of Lula Lounge and their annual Lulaworld festival to the beauty of High Park to record performances by local Latinx, Brazilian, Caribbean and Indigenous artists.
25 FOR 25 (July 1-3, 8 p.m.)
Small World Music in association with Canadian Stage
Celebrate Canada Day weekend and the launch of Small World’s 25th anniversary festivities with three evenings of the finest culturally diverse sounds from around the globe and around the corner.
MADE IN EXILE: OUTDOOR SHOWCASE (July 4, 8 p.m.)
Presented by Canadian Stage
In celebration of the first Tibetan Heritage Month in Ontario and the fifth year since its inception, Made in Exile will be screening short films created by emerging filmmakers from their 2020-21 Made in Exile x Charles Street Video’s Film Intensive Program. Canadian Stage is hosting this event to celebrate and showcase Made in Exile’s work in the community to date. We invite you to celebrate this historic month by witnessing the work of young emerging Tibetan artists.
FOREST DREAMS (July 5-10)
Canadian Stage welcomes Theatre Direct
Using High Park as inspiration, this week-long creation workshop for children will explore nature myths and stories through the magic of theatre. At the end of the week the children will perform their creation, Forest Dreams, at the High Park Amphitheatre for an invited audience of friends and family.
BAT NIGHT (July 6, 8:30 p.m., Aug. 3, 8 p.m., Sept. 14, 7 p.m.)
High Park Nature Centre comes to the amphitheatre for a 30-minute interactive presentation where they’ll cover all things bat — behaviour, habitat and favourite foods. Audiences will then leave the amphitheatre and explore High Park’s trails using handheld bat detectors and, if lucky, may even hear the bats’ ultrasonic calls as they swoop and loop during their evening, mid-air forage and spot their silhouettes.
STORY FUSION CABARET! (July 7, 8 p.m.) & STORYTENT (August 21-22, 10 a.m.)
Storytelling Toronto in partnership with Canadian Stage
Toronto’s hub for all story enthusiasts, Storytelling Toronto, will take over the amphitheatre twice this summer with two unique programs.
Enjoy some of the city’s finest dream weavers, when Storytelling Toronto presents, Story Fusion Cabaret!’s Making Images with Words, hosted by CBC’s Ali Hassan. Then it’s StoryTent, the family-friendly program led by the exuberant host, Donna Dudinsky.
BAROQUE & BEYOND CHAMBER CONCERTS (July 8-10)
Tafelmusik in association with Canadian Stage
Experience the beauty of music of the past with these intimate chamber concerts featuring two or three members of Tafelmusik orchestra. Presented in an informal style with introductions from the musicians, a different program will be offered each night.
BOX CONCERTS (July 10-11 & 17-18, 3 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.)
Tapestry Opera in partnership with Canadian Stage
Tapestry Opera’s joyful travelling pop-up stage returns with a brand new show for 2021. Tenor Asitha Tennekoon performs your favourites from opera and musical theatre together with new songs, to tell a magical story of connection and belonging.
TORONTO OUTDOOR PICTURE SHOW (July 11, 9 p.m.)
Toronto Outdoor Picture Show in partnership with Canadian Stage
Dedicated to sharing high quality, diverse, and engaging outdoor film programming with communities across Toronto, Toronto Outdoor Picture Show will present a one-night-only secret screening in the Canadian Stage High Park Amphitheatre, signalling the kick-off to the festival’s 2021 summer season.
STAND-UP COMEDY (July 12, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.)
In partnership with Canadian Stage
Under the open skies of the High Park Amphitheatre you’ll find local, renowned comedians emerge with fresh stand-up comedy. Join them for an evening of laughs and storytelling in partnership with Canadian Stage.
MAGGIE & ME: A Healing Dance (July 15-18, 8 p.m.)
A Friday Creations Production in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts, presented by Canadian Stage
Created and choreographed by Indigenous artist Christine Friday, Maggie & Me explores community, family, history and the power of a healing dance as moments weave through the dream realm, spirit realm, and present realm.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS (July 17-18, 9:30 a.m. & 11 a.m.)
Roseneath Theatre in partnership with Canadian Stage
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls follows the story of nine-year-old Fiona who comes out as a boy and wants to be called Fin. Fin has always had this feeling — knowing something is different but not knowing what it was or how to say it. As Fin cuts his hair short and changes his name, his family works to understand and adjust to Fin’s gender identity. Dad is accepting of the change right away, but Mom doesn’t quite get it at first. Always from a place of good intentions, we see Fin’s family struggle with this change and through the course of the play ultimately begin to accept and embrace Fin for who he is. Suitable for ages 9 to 14.
BLACKOUT (July 23-Aug. 15, 8 p.m.)
A Musical Stage Company production in association with Canadian Stage
Originally slated for premiere as part of the 2020-21 season, The Musical Stage Company’s BLACKOUT will premiere under the stars on the High Park Amphitheatre stage. Set on the evening of the northeast blackout of 2003, this thrilling new work depicts three stories of connection that unfolded when the city was dark, and strangers banded together to find the light. A new Canadian musical by two of Canada’s most exciting voices — Anton Lipovetsky and Steven Gallagher — BLACKOUT is a story of hope, resilience and community.
NOWHEN (Aug. 5-15, 3 p.m.)
A Canadian Stage Production in collaboration with The Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University, presented in partnership with SummerWorks
Created and directed by Alison Wong, Nowhen is a collaborative creation reflecting one’s connection to place, dramatizing seven stories that weave across High Park before converging in the amphitheatre for a collective experience.
A NEW WORK PERFORMED BY CASIMIRO NHUSSI OF NAFRO DANCE AND PULGA MUCHOCHOMA (Aug. 19-22, 8 p.m.)
dance Immersion & Canadian Stage: Curatorial and Presenting Partners
Canadian Stage partners with dance Immersion — a company dedicated to producing, promoting, and supporting dancers and dances of the African Diaspora — on a new work to be choreographed and performed by Casimiro Nhussi and Pulga Muchochoma.
IS MY MICROPHONE ON? (Sept. 2-19, 7:30 p.m.)
A Canadian Stage Production by Jordan Tannahill, directed by Erin Brubacher
This generation will no longer be able to avoid the consequences of climate change. In this Canadian premiere of Governor General Award-winner Jordan Tannahill’s newest play, a group of young people speak directly to the adults in the audience, holding them to account, questioning the choices that have not been made, the ones that children will be forced to make, and what kind of future they stand to inherit.
BEYOND TORONTO TAIKO FESTIVAL (Sept. 4-5)
Canadian Stage presents Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers and Toronto Taiko Festival
Make some noise for this showcase of incredible Pan-Asian drumming groups, women drumming groups, qtbipoc drumming groups and others.
AN EVENING WITH JEREMY DUTCHER (Sept. 6-8, 8 p.m.)
Presented by Canadian Stage
Polaris Prize-winning performer, composer, activist, and musicologist Jeremy Dutcher comes to the High Park Amphitheatre for three intimate concerts. A member of Tobique First Nation of New Brunswick and trained in the western operatic tradition, Dutcher’s music playfully integrates classical influences into traditional songs of his Wolastoqiyik Nation people. An intimate evening under the stars, this will be a rare opportunity to commune with one of the most exciting and essential artists in the country.
inTO FOCUS (Sept. 23-25, 7 p.m.)
Dance: made in Canada/fait au Canada festival in partnership with Canadian Stage
Canada’s biennial contemporary dance festival, dance: made in Canada/fait au Canada, will present inTO Focus, a dynamic mixed program featuring five Toronto-based contemporary dance artists.