In today's Urban Planner: street performers at BuskerFest, nerds at FanExpo, and comedy at Laugh Sabbath.
Festivals: Buskerfest, the annual festival that features more than 100 of the best buskers from Canada and around the world, is back. This year’s event features performers like Dr. Draw, Turbo Street Funk, Alissa Vox Raw, Gabriel Angelo, and many others. The event itself is in support of Epilepsy Toronto and takes place along Yonge Street (from College Street to Queen Street). Check out some pics from last year’s event here.
Multiple venues, all day, FREE. Details
- Comics: Every year, just before fall kicks in, it’s time for Fan Expo, Toronto’s annual convention for every hobby that might potentially involve dressing up in an elaborate costume: comics, horror, anime, gaming, sci-fi, you name it. As always, there are dozens of huge events the con is promoting (Stan Lee returns to Fan Expo this year, and the Fan Expo Party offers you the chance to hang out with the likes of Michael Rooker, Dean Cain, and Colin Baker). But there are lots of other things to do at Fan Expo 2013. Here are seven of them. Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West), all day, Day passes $25–$50. Details
- Film: What a coincidence. This month’s CineMacabre screening lands on the first day of the Festival of Fear, a part of Fan Expo. Okay, it’s no coincidence at all—both are presented by the horror aficionados at Rue Morgue. This time around, they’re going old school with a 35mm projection of the 1989 cult film The ‘Burbs. Even cooler, director Joe Dante will be in attendance as a special festival-kickoff treat. Like always, great prizes will be provided by various morbid sponsors. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 9:30 p.m., $15. Details
- Comedy: Another week, another riotous Laugh Sabbath. This edition of the weekly comedy show is hosted by Chris Locke and features Nick Flanagan, Sean Cullen, Pete Zedlacker, Ryan Horwood, plus more! Check out a clip here to catch a glimpse of what you might be in for. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $5. Details
- Comedy: The Sue’s Bachelorette Extravaganza Show is a unique love-connection/dating-competition experience that you might not want to miss out on. “The Sue’s” have picked six of Toronto’s funniest male comedians (the name “Dylan Gott” has been mentioned), and these six men will compete to go on a date with one of the bachelorettes. There will be stand up, songs, dating games, prizes, and even some partial nudity. And a lucky audience member might just be given the chance to go home with one of the losers… The Lot Stand Up Comedy Club (100 Ossington Avenue), 10 p.m., $15. 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), all day, $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, all day, $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), all day, 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), all day, $8.50–$12. Details
- Festivals: The Canadian National Exhibition, that storied summer fair, opens for its 135th season. For 18 days, there will be amusement-park rides late into the night, all manner of overindulgent foods to gorge on, long-running traditions like the Warrior’s Day Parade and the Air Show, concerts by bands like The Beach Boys and The New Pornographers, and much, much more. Exhibition Place (Lakeshore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue), 10 a.m., $12–$16. Details
Art: Ai Weiwei is a 56-year-old artist confined to his home in Beijing for creating work critical of the Chinese government and Chinese culture. There are video cameras outside his house, his phone lines are tapped, his blog was deleted, his Shanghai studio was destroyed in 2010 by authorities, and his passport was confiscated in 2011. To this day, he’s unable to leave his country. Even so, Ai Weiwei has had a large presence in Toronto over the past few months.
This past June, he did a performance piece with artist Laurie Anderson during the Luminato Festival, using Skype. His Zodiac Heads have been installed, temporarily, in the reflecting pool in front of City Hall. At this year’s Nuit Blanche, a large-scale version of his sculpture of bicycles, Forever, will take over Nathan Phillips Square. And beginning August 17, the Art Gallery of Ontario is displaying “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”, a retrospective of the work he produced before and after the Chinese government’s crackdown on his activities helped him find new international acclaim. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), 10 a.m., $25 (Includes general admission). Details
- Food: If you enjoy great variety in your food as well as live music then be sure to check out Tasty Thursdays at some point this summer. This weekly Nathan Phillips Square event brings different international dishes and music to City Hall to add some much needed delicious fun to your lunch break. Some of the styles you’re likely to see include reggae, rock, tribal rhymes, soul, and cuban salsa. Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West), 11 a.m., FREE. Details
- Dance: Dancing on the Pier is back for its third year! If you didn’t participate in this great dance series last year, be sure not to miss out this time around. For the uninitiated, this weekly series offers different live bands and instructors to help you find your groove along the waterfront all summer long. Featuring music by the Toronto All-Star Big Band and Ricardo Barboza. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Sports: Some people unwind with retail therapy, others do yoga. Now you can combine both activities with free yoga in the Town Square at The Shops at Don Mills. Regardless of your skill level, bring a mat and join the group for sessions twice weekly, courtesy of Titika. Shops at Don Mills (1090 Don Mills Road), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Film: A new, locally made movie, Everyday Is Like Sunday, features some mainstays from our city’s comedy and music scenes. Directed by Pavan Moondi, it follows friends Mark (David Dineen-Porter) and Jason (Adam Gurfinkel) as they muddle through their semi-adult lives. It also stars Coral Osborne and Nick Flanagan, and there are turns by Nick Thorburn (Islands, Mister Heavenly) and Dan Werb (Woodhands, Ark Analog). The film has its premiere screening at the Carlton on Friday, August 16, with a Q&A and opening party after. Carleton Cinemas (20 Carleton Street), 7 p.m., $5–$9.50. 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
- Theatre: Many people now routinely consume television series in marathon benders, blowing through DVDs or Netflix downloads in a few evenings or a weekend. It’s that sort of experience—but live, of course—that awaits audiences at Soulpepper’s production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which offers over six hours of impeccably staged and performed theatre either in two long evenings or over the course of one full day, with multiple intermissions and a meal break. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., Various prices. 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: In the 31st year of Shakespeare in High Park, Canadian Stage has programmed two productions that are performed on alternating evenings. The two plays could not be more different.
Both Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew involve manipulative spouses and deceptive plots—but where one ends in marriages and love, the other ends with bloodshed and terror. One is infamously problematic, and the other is one of Shakespeare’s most popular. And the two directors, Ted Witzel and Ker Wells, both of whom join Shakespeare in High Park after completing a directing program held in collaboration between Canadian Stage and York University, only exaggerate the differences. High Park Amphitheatre (1873 Bloor St. W.), 8 p.m., PWYC. 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.