In this Weekend Planner: a hidden film festival, some superstars of comedy, and a show by Phèdre.
Film: When was the last time you went to the movies without knowing what was on? Probably never.
Indeed, these days, because of the power and reach of multimillion-dollar movie promotion campaigns, you’re lucky if you don’t know the plot from start to finish before you get comfy in your theatre seat.
The Hidden Film Festival, coming to Toronto on July 27, turns convention on its head by asking audience members not only to come see a movie without knowing anything about it in advance, but also to become critics by tweeting, blogging, and telling the world at large about what they’ve seen. With screenings in Dublin, Paris, London, and Toronto during July, it’s hoped that the daring, experimental nature of the festival will attract attention to largely unseen flicks. Multiple venues, Saturday at 12 a.m., Tickets $10–$13. Details
- Art: The Noise Project is a new exhibition that brings together a group of artists to explore the concept of noise from a citizen’s perspective. The exhibition features interactive installations, sculptures, videos, outdoor performances, sound walks, and an audio treasure hunt. Click here to check out some samples of what you might be in for. 99 Gallery (99 Sudbury Street), Saturday at 11 a.m., FREE. Details
Festivals: The Lab Cab Festival has gotten so big it needs an entire neighbourhood to hold it.
And so the annual multi-arts festival is moving from its traditional home, at the Factory Theatre, to Parkdale. Which is to say, all of Parkdale. Multiple venues, Saturday at 12 p.m., Free. Details
- Parties: If you like partying and supporting independent media, make sure you add this event to your to-do list. The Commonwealth is inviting everyone to come out and support DIY culture by attending a big daytime block party. You’ll find vendors from Toronto’s small press community, including Blood of the Young Zine, No Fun Press, Block by Block, and more. N/A Collective Space (1585 Dundas Street West), Saturday at 3 p.m., FREE. Details
- Comedy: Time to get your summer laughs on! Don’t miss out on The Superstars of Comedy, which features some of the best stand-up comics in Canada. The show will be hosted by Roy Daye, with sets by Rob Bebenek, Pat MacDonald, and headliner Dylan Gott. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), Saturday at 9:30 p.m., $10. Details
- Theatre: The Company We Keep cabaret series is a brand-new monthly event that features an evening with Theatre 20′s founding artists. Some of the upcoming performances include a tribute to musical theatre, an evening of entertainment in French and English, and an “At Your Request” evening. Also, if you’re willing to pay more, you can get a Prix Fixe dinner before the show starts. Jazz Bistro (251 Victoria Street), Sunday at 7 p.m., $20. Details
- Music: Indie act Phèdre is dropping by Wrongbar for a set with some friends. The group has just announced a new album, Golden Age (you can watch/listen to the opening track above), and will be joined at this gig by Blue Hawaii and DJ Moon King. It’ll probably be a pretty trippy experience. Wrongbar (1279 Queen Street West), Sunday at 7 p.m., $10. Details
History: The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), Saturday at 12 a.m., $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions. Multiple venues, Friday at 12 a.m., $25–$175. Details
- Art: Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery. Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), Saturday at 12 a.m., FREE. Details
- Film: When Animal House first turned the toga into suitable party attire in 1978, the landscape of the film comedy was forever altered. TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a new film series that kicked off Wednesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, seeks to chart the changing comedic sensibilities that have occurred in the years since the film’s release. From big budget blockbusters, to libido-fuelled sex romps, to carefully calibrated exercises in nuance and timing, the selections in the program are some of the funniest films ever made. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), Wednesday at 12 a.m., $8.50–$12. Details
Music: The Beaches International Jazz Festival marks its 25th anniversary as it wraps up its 2013 edition this weekend. On tap are lots of cover bands, pan flute-led ensembles, and a sea of boomers in Hawaiian shirts walking their dogs.
Is that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you just heard? Probably. Is that 70-year-old white gentleman in the “Canadian Tuxedo” doing a Bob Marley cover? You bet he is. One love, Toronto. Calling this event a jazz festival at this point is just illogical. The flavour is really more akin to the Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Kingsway,than a music festival.
So what’s the best way to enjoy this fest? Grab a seat on one of Queen Street East’s many great patios, get a bite and drink and soak up the great weather and the people watching. If you’re interested in going specifically for the music, don’t linger or wander. Head directly to see one of our top three picks, which are below. Multiple venues, Friday at 12 a.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Soulpepper Theatre collaborates on a Joe Orton play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s artistic producer Brendan Healey. Guest director Healey has coached some Soulpepper theatre stalwarts—Stuart Hughes, Fiona Reid, Michael Simpson, and David Beazley—for this dark comedy about a charming lodger who incites illicit passions among his other housemates. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m., $5-$68. Details
- Music: There are only so many can’t-miss Toronto events each year, and the Beaches International Jazz Festival is certainly one of them. This year’s fest features a whirlwind of acts and musical genres mixed together along Queen Street East (and then you can head down to the boardwalk for more summer fun). Click here for the full lineup. Multiple venues, Thursday at 12 a.m., FREE. Details
- Performing Arts: If you’re looking to make your summer much hotter than it already is, check out the 6th Annual Toronto Burlesque Festival for some sexy dancing and amazing costumes on stage. Featuring dozens and dozens of performers from across Toronto, New York, and a variety of other places across North America, this year’s sizzling four-day event features a jam-packed opening show, a late night shakedown, and a burlesque brunch. The Virgin Mobile Mod Club (722 College Street), Thursday at 12 a.m., $35. Details
- Festivals: If you need additional reasons to get your beer on, Toronto’s Festival of Beer is bringing you over 200 brands to enrich your appreciation of Canada’s brewing indsutry. Apart from the beer and vendors, there will be live music all weekend long (including sets from Spin Doctors and Easy Star All-Stars), and grilling tips from Ted Reader. Exhibition Place (Lakeshore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue), Friday at 12 a.m., $39.50. Details
- History: Looking to brush up your cultural and history knowledge on all things Toronto? Heritage Toronto 2013 Tours offers you an enormous chance to learn tons and tons about the city you love via walking tours, bike tours, and more. Some of the events on the agenda of this weekly series include tours of Fort York, Korea Town, Don Valley, and Black Creek. It’s running all summer long so don’t miss out! Multiple venues, Saturday at 12 a.m. and Sunday at 12 a.m., FREE. Details
- Art: CUE, a non-profit arts organization that encourages artistic expression from the city’s fringes, hosts “Margin of Eras.” The exhibit gathers over 20 different artists’ work for display in a pop-up gallery on Wednesdays to Sundays for two weeks in July. For the launch party on Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m., there’ll be a live New Orleans jazz band, and more. Abandoned convenience store (Queen St. W. and Gladstone Ave.), Saturday at 12 p.m., FREE. Details
- Performing Arts: Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension. Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.,7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., $60–$110. Details
Theatre: Musical theatre has a reputation for sometimes being out of touch and old-fashioned, so the prospect of Mirvish Productions bringing a tour of Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes to Toronto wasn’t especially heartening at first—even if this particular production, by New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company, won three 2011 Tony Awards.
But say, pal, wouldn’t you know, we were downright tickled to have such a good time at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The jokes are still corny, the songs still melodramatic, and the script still has some pretty racist content, but the show manages to transcend its era. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), Saturday at 2 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., $29–$130. Details
- Theatre: It seems rare these days for a theatre group to put on a classic, untampered presentation of a Shakespeare play. First Act Productions is no exception to this trend, with their short run offering, All Shook Up: An Elvis Musical. Set to a soundtrack of Presley’s best known rock and roll hits, this upbeat musical takes its storyline from Twelfth Night. The Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery Road), Saturday at 2:30 p.m., $25. Details
- Music: Travel back to turn-of-the-century Paris—La Belle Époque—with the Toronto Summer Music Festival. Established and up-and-coming classical musicians gather for this three-week festival to celebrate works by French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré. Lectures, workshops, interviews, and concerts will take place in various venues across the city. Multiple venues, Saturday at 4 p.m., Various prices. Details
- Theatre: Perhaps Soulpepper’s most ambitious theatrical project yet, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is a seven-hour epic set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis of the 80′s and 90′s. The play earned a Pulitzer Prize and Tony awards (for the stage versions), and Golden Globes and Emmys (for the HBO miniseries.) Broken down into Parts I and II (sub-titled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), the company is presenting the two plays in repertory on a nightly basis (save for Sunday evenings) and strongly urges viewers to see them in order. (Full day “marathons” begin in August.) There’s a video with director Albert Schultz and the cast’s thoughts on the project during rehearsal; previews being on July 19, with Millennium Approaches opening on July 31 and Perestroika) on August 1. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), Saturday at 7:30 p.m., $5-$68. Details
- Theatre: Playwright and director Bobby Del Rio touches on the struggle artists face in The Trial of Ken Gass. Based on the real-life dismissal of a Canadian theatre legend, the play sees Ken Gass continually put on trial for crimes of which he knows nothing. The part of Gass will be played by a different actor every night, including Peter Keleghan, Art Hindle, Diane Flacks, Greg Dunham, and Dinesh Sachdev. Sterling Theatre (163 Sterling Road), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.,8 p.m., $10. Details
- Film: Who doesn’t love outdoor film screenings? The Christie Pits Film Festival is a chance for you to check out some free films in the park with your Toronto neighbours. The films that will be shown are Gimme Shelter (July 14), Shut Up and Play the Hits (July 20), Buena Vista Social Club (July 21), and The Last Waltz (July 28), That Thing You Do! (August 4). Christie Pits Park (Bloor and Christie streets), Sunday at 9:15 p.m., FREE. 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.