In today's Urban Planner: the Island Soul festival brings Caribbean culture to Harbourfront Centre, a zine fair, and a launch party for a comic book about Conan the Barbarian.
- Festivals: Now in its 16th year, Harbourfront Centre’s Island Soul festival, which takes place this weekend, picks up where Caribana (or, um, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival) leaves off. In addition to having music and dance from the Caribbean, it also features film, art, food, sports, and a whole raft of other Caribbean-related cultural events. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West), 11 a.m., Free. Details
- Books: The sixth-annual Zine Dream starts on Friday, August 2 with an exhibition at Communication Gallery, from 7 to 10 p.m. It continues on August 3 with a panel discussion at XPACE, from 7 to 10 p.m. Then the whole thing concludes on August 4 at the Tranzac Club with a zine fair, from noon to 5 p.m. All events are free or PWYC. More details can be found at Zine Dream’s website. Multiple venues, 7 p.m., PWYC. Details
- Books: DIY artist and writer Rachel Kahn considers Conan the Barbarian to be her spiritual guide, and she has self-published a comic book full of her imagined interactions with the sword-swinging Cimmerian. The By Crom! Book Launch will feature a “flexitarian” and Paeleo-inspired snack spread, photo ops with mighty warriors, and plenty of themed A/V aids. $10 gets you admission, a drink ticket, and signed poster; $20 includes all that, plus the book, too. Bento Miso Collaborative Workspace (862 Richmond Street West), 8 p.m., $10–$20. Details
- Comedy: Bad Dog Theatre’s newest show is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to romantic comedies like Love, Actually. Toronto, I Love You features the Bad Dog Repertory Players, and is directed by Kirsten Rasmussen. The show runs weekly on Friday nights through August, and for obvious reasons, sounds like a great date event. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $10–$12. 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), 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, 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), 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), 12 a.m., $8.50–$12. 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, 12 p.m., Various prices. Details
- Dance: While city parks are usually populated by drunk hipsters, dogs, or goose poo, this is the week that dance takes over. Dusk Dances brings groups from all over Canada to perform four very different choreographies—including a boxing dance battle—in various spots throughout Withrow Park. Follow host Dan Watson as he takes spectators from one eclectic piece to the other. Withrow Park (Bain and Logan Avenues), 6 p.m., PWYC- $10 suggested. 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), 7:30 p.m., $5-$68. Details
- Music: Cover band extraordinaire Dwayne Gretzky kicks off Indie Fridays, Yonge-Dundas Square’s weekly summer music night series, on June 28. The eight-piece rock ‘n’ roll cover band most recently played Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album from beginning to end. Later in the summer, Indie Fridays’ feature acts include soul singer Saidah Baba Talibah (August 2), Polaris Prize shortlisters Plants and Animals (August 23), and hip hop innovator Cadence Weapon (August 30). Yonge-Dundas Square (1 Dundas Street East), 8 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Three Peasants Theatre examines the not-so-blissful side of marriage in its short-run production of Harold Pinter’s The Lover. Meet Richard and Sarah, a picture-perfect couple in the 1960′s. Every day, Richard goes off to work while Sarah takes care of the house and awaits her husband’s return. But what would happen if that paradigm were to shift? Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street), 8 p.m., $15-$20. 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), 8 p.m., $29–$130. 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), 8 p.m., $10. Details
- Theatre: The Unit 102 Theatre Actors Company has brought the rapscallions of Parkdale back for another round with P-Dale Episode 4: Rise of Los Muchos. While facing gentrification, the gang must fight Los Muchos to protect their home turf. As one might imagine, hilarity and disaster ensue. Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street), 8 p.m., $15. 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.