In today's Urban Planner: a photography show that highlight's Toronto's architectural heritage, The Playwright Project, and Star Trek improv.
- Photography: David Kaufman’s Early Sunday Morning photography exhibit simultaneously celebrates the heritage of Toronto’s architecture, while pleading for its preservation, in the face of gentrification and condo development. The building facades and structures, rich in texture and colour, are each captured at their most beautiful—basking in the light of early morning. Twist Gallery (1100 Queen Street West), 11 a.m., FREE. Details
- Art: In partnership with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Steam Whistle’s month-long art exhibit this May is dedicated to comics. The Toronto Strip Show features thematically-linked comic strips by artists who are showcasing at the festival. The original pieces can be purchased through silent auction at the opening gala on May 1. Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Dance: Next Steps presents four days of contemporary and traditional dance as part of the CanAsian International Dance Festival. Showcasing everything from Turkish Whirling to Japanese Butoh, the performances and films draw from a wide range of Asian ideas and expressions. Harbourfront Centre, Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West), 8 p.m., $25-$30. Details
- Theatre: Bad Dog Theatre Company unites sci-fi, comedy, and improv fans with their production of Final Frontier. Based on Star Trek, the unscripted show follows the adventures of a new ship and crew, using plot suggestions from the audience. Featuring improv from Etan Muskat, Jess Bryson, Liz Johnston, Alastair Forbes, and Craig Anderson. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $12, $10 students. Details
Theatre: In theatre, it’s one thing to have an idea. It’s another to actually see the idea through. And it’s another thing entirely to see it happen a second time.
“It’s nerve-wracking because we’re not new anymore, so it’s not as easy to get people excited about it as it was last year when it was a new and shiny thing. Like, ‘Are those scrappy kids going to pull it off?’” says Alex Johnson, project director of The Playwright Project, which is about to launch its second edition. By “those scrappy kids,” Johnson is referring to the collective of independent theatre companies that joined forces last year to create The Tennessee Project, a week-long festival that toured a series of Tennessee Williams one-act plays through seven Toronto neighbourhoods. The idea was that each play would perform in a new venue each night, but that those venues would be familiar places like bars, restaurants, or community centres, and the crews would not only perform in neighbourhoods (from North York to Greektown to Roncesvalles), but would volunteer for local projects and organizations as well. It was an ambitious gamble for a bunch of young theatre-makers frustrated by a lack of time and resources to stage their own work. But according to Johnson, it was a resounding success. Multiple venues, 8 p.m., $15. Details
Theatre: Sam Shepard’s plays are famously all about man as a caged animal, prowling and brooding around his enclosure (usually a North American domicile), eventually tearing it apart like an untrained puppy suffering from separation anxiety. He is a man’s man’s writer, the lone wolf in the wilderness that so many young males fantasize about—even, it often seems, Shepard himself.
As his most famous work, one of Shepard’s Family Trilogy, True West is a great example: two brothers, Hollywood screenwriter Austin (Mike Ross) and the petty-thieving vagabond Lee (Stuart Hughes), somehow end up house-sitting for their mother while she’s on vacation in Alaska (though only Austin was asked to do so). It’s clear in the script that both men make solo trips outside the walls of their mother’s suburban home, but we never see them apart from each other. That’s because Lee and Austin are two halves of the same man. In fact, it’s common for the two main actors to alternate the roles throughout a run of the show. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 1:30 p.m., $5–$68. Details
Theatre: There are few playwrights whose names can double as adjectives (think “Shakespearean,” or “Beckettian”). But Race, now on at Canadian Stage, makes us want to coin a new one of those words. That’s because of the opening scene, where a black lawyer named Henry Brown addresses a white man with the line “You want to tell me about Black folks?” while leaning back in his office chair at the end of a long boardroom table. It’s distinctly Mamettian.
The American playwright David Mamet is known as much for his portrayal of fast-talking, morally ambiguous businessmen as he is for “Mamet speak,” his unique style of verbose, curse-filled, overlapping dialogue or long-winded speeches. His 2010 script Race is no different—in fact, it might be his most Mamettian to date. It certainly doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to its subject matter (as the title suggests). Discourse surrounding race, privilege, language, and cultural history consumes the entire play. Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East), 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., $24 to $99. Details
- Theatre: In 1897, Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler wrote a play so scandalous that at first he only shared it among his friends. It wasn’t publicly staged until 1920 and, unsurprisingly, it caused an uproar. The ruffled feathers had to do with La Ronde‘s frank discussion of sexual relationships—in particular, those between members of different social classes. But while the acts themselves were originally left up to the audience’s imagination, Soulpepper Theatre’s current, modernized adaptation goes all the way with its sex scenes. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., $22-$68. Details
- Theatre: Fans of the seminal 1968 horror-film classic, Night of the Living Dead, will delight in Night of the Living Dead Live, a new theatrical production of the story. Despite a weak second act, it’s a fun black-and-white romp with some inventive deaths—and even a chipper musical number. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 7:30 p.m., $20–$80. Details
Comedy: The Toronto Comedy Brawl is in the middle of a growth spurt. Despite humble beginnings, Ian Atlas’ amateur competition has grown from 64 participants to, this year, a few hundred.
The Comedy Brawl pits amateur stand-up comics against one another in a round-robin tournament. Each night features eight performers, each of whom does a five-minute standup set. At the end, each audience member votes for his or her three favourite comics. The four highest-scoring comedians from each night move onto the next round, until one winner is chosen on the final night.
This year, the first round features 26 shows and over 300 comedians, a number that will be pared down as the tournament progresses.
Atlas, who has worked in comedy production since he came to Toronto, originally started the brawl as a way to keep attendance up at his open-mic shows over the slow months. “Summer is a time where no one wants to go inside to do things,” he said, “so I started the brawl to [prevent myself from] losing the rooms and my livelihood.” The Crown and Tiger (414 College Street), 8 p.m., $5. Details
- Theatre: Falsettos, a groundbreaking and Tony Award–winning musical, comes to town for a short run, presented by The Acting Up Stage Company. The story takes us to New York City in 1979, where the Sexual Revolution is hot, AIDS is on the rise, and Marvin, a husband and father, has decided to leave his family for a man. Directed by Robert McQueen and starring Darrin Baker, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Sarah Gibbons, Michael Levinson, Eric Morin, Stephen Patterson, and Glynis Ranney. Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East), 8 p.m., $39-$55. Details
- Theatre: David Yee examines lifes interconnectivity in Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave. The play follows an escort in Thailand, a housewife in Utah, and a Catholic priest in India, and how their lives are simultaneously brought together and torn apart by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21-$53. Details
- Theatre: Edward Roy and Gavin Crawford star as two 50-something spinster sisters in the gender bending A Few Brittle Leaves. Residing in a suburb of London, Viola and Penelope are faced with the inevitability of aging and the question of whether to abandon their search for love. That is, until the new vicar comes to town and turns their world upside down. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 8 p.m., $20-$30. Details
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.