As the pandemic continues to keep us from gathering in person, audience and artists alike continue to explore different ways performing arts can work. The Next Stage Festival has moved to a digital offering this year called Community Booster, which includes performing arts in three streams. These are Theatre Shorts, Story Telling, and Audio Offerings.
You can file audio offerings under “everything old is new again.” I remember growing up listening to radio plays on CBC radio. And the pandemic isn’t the only thing that has brought audio plays to prominence; podcasting has been a significant contributor there. But what are the audio offerings from Community Booster?
There are six offerings, and all but one run about 10 minutes long, with the one outlier coming in around 20 minutes. But the length of the pieces is about the only similarity.
The Chit Chat Never Ends has the Toronto Fringe Executive Director, Lucy Eveleigh and her 5 (almost 6!) year old daughter, well, chit-chatting. This bite-sized single-take 10-minute-long adorable, heartwarming podcast had me laughing out loud. It’s nothing profound, just a lovely little injection of joy into your day.
Hot Bath is a mini-play that the audience is thrown into without context. I found it a bit difficult because I spent most of the time figuring out what was going on. But it was only 10 minutes, and it had an amusing punch line, so it was worth it.
I’ve Been Thinking About Vanishing started out feeling like a monologue. But the language and the flow were so beautiful that ultimately it felt more like a poem than a monologue. Everyone finds their own way into art, and for me, this was more about how it felt and sounded than about the content.
The Light Goes Round surprised me. Out of a musical jammed into only 10 minutes seemed… well… improbable to me. But honestly, it was my favourite of all the offerings. It left me really wanting more. The writing was great, all of it, book, music and lyrics.
Lovingly yours, Olive was the longest of the bunch, running approximately 20 minutes. This piece had me at first, lost me somewhere in the middle, then had me again. I’m not sure if it was because it was in the company of several 10-minute-long pieces or if I really did need the piece to be tighter. Still, I was glad that I was around for the latter part because I engaged with it the most.
Nine-night is the opposite. It moves a mile a minute. It is edited so that there are no gaps between sentences. I felt out of breath listening to it. It made me feel frantic, not because it was a ghost story, but because there was no time to absorb any of the information I was hearing. I would love to hear a different edit because while the actor spoke quickly, that wasn’t what made it feel so intensely rushed.
The nice thing about the Audio Offerings is that you can just play them in the background while doing other things. They are nice to listen to while you are puttering around, doing dishes or something. Or maybe a far nicer option, while you are doing a puzzle, drawing, or something else you enjoy. Combining two enjoyable things sounds downright luxurious!
- Next Stage Community Booster is a virtual festival. Once you buy a pass, you are able to access content behind the website paywall.
- Ticket packages range from Tip What You Can to $100 depending on what you choose to access. See the website for ticketing information. (The Audio Offerings stream can be accessed for $15 or is included with the Community Booster Membership for $100)
- All digital content will be available as of 12:01 am on Thursday, January 21, 2021, and will be available until 11:59 pm on Sunday, January 31, 2021.
- Download the digital brochure