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The cast of Strata Inc. Photo: Creativision.

Undercurrents theatre festival goes virtual—March 10 to 20

By Greggory Clark on February 9, 2021

Following the news of a 1-month postponement due to the state of emergency in Ontario, Ottawa’s indie theatre festival Undercurrents recently announced its online program for 2021. The festival’s 11th anniversary edition will take place from March 10 to 20 with shows to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

The 2021 Undercurrents festival is focusing on local artists, providing a platform to Ottawa’s artistic community gravely impacted by COVID-19. Presenting six productions, audiences will have access to the performances via live-streams, audio plays, app downloads and more.

Opening the festival is Ottawa’s Aplombusrhombus with their award-winning show Ethel (Apt613.ca Reviewers’ Pick at the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival) on Wednesday, March 10. A solo show by Madeleine Hall, Ethel examines mortality through the story of a granddaughter caring for her dying grandmother. Ethel will be performed live at Arts Court Theatre and broadcast live to the Undercurrents Festival website.

Skeleton Key Theatre performs Deluge. Photo courtesy of Undercurrents Festival.

Local company Skeleton Key Theatre will present Deluge, a rock musical that explores climate change through the songs of characters set adrift and left to navigate what remains of their flooded town. Deluge is a pre-recorded performance that will be broadcast at scheduled times from March 11 to 14. A workshop version of the show was presented at Undercurrents Festival 2019 while still in development.

The creative minds behind Trophy are redefining online theatre with their presentation of Remixed. Listen to a playlist of stories and music, personalized by an algorithmic DJ, all delivered to you via a custom-made mobile app. As part of the tailored performance, a party gift will be dropped off to the homes of those who purchased tickets on the morning of the show.

The second week of Undercurrents Festival kicks off with Ottawa-based South African storyteller Jacqui Du Toit’s Being Coloured/ful In A Black and White World. Jacqui takes you on a journey to her motherland South Africa, to the times of great struggle, uprising, and racial divide. Being Coloured/ful will be performed live at Arts Court, streamed to our website.

Photo: Franco Pang in No More Mister Rice Guy (Fresh Meat Festival)

Also joining the festival lineup are Franco Pang and Alli Harris with No More Mr. Rice Guy. The show first premiered at Fresh Meat Festival in 2019 and introduces budding musician Rice Boy as he tries to win a local rap battle, with the dream to be the biggest, baddest rap artist there ever was. NMRG will be performed live, streamed to the Undercurrents Festival website from March 18 to 20.

Megan Piercey Monafu was in the middle of premiering her new work Strata Inc. when COVID-19 shut down performances. Now re-worked into an audio-play, Strata Inc. follows hacker Victoria as she battles the moral responsibilities of virtual reality. Strata Inc. is available on demand, downloadable March 17-20.

This year’s New Play Tuesday event will showcase Ottawa playwrights reading excerpts of new works created during Ottawa Fringe’s Playwrights in Quarantine writing unit via Zoom.

“The pandemic has provided so many challenges for local artists, and we wanted to provide a platform where Ottawa’s theatre makers could connect with their audience,” says Festival Director Patrick Gauthier.

“With this year’s festival moving exclusively online, the artists we’re presenting have shown incredible resilience and creativity in adapting their performances for a remote audience—whether it be a live-streamed show, an audio play, or experienced on your smartphone.”


The 11th annual Undercurrents Festival will run from March 10 to 20, 2021. Visit undercurrentsfestival.ca for the complete schedule, tickets and passes. Undercurrents uses a “pick your price” ticket model where you can purchase a ticket for $5, $20, $50 or $75, no questions asked.