In today's Urban Planner: an exhibition of horror-themed photography, a charity comedy show, and a Jazz Jam with some well-known local musicians.
- Art: Arti[face]: A Wink And A Nod Can Mean So Much is a new exhibit of photo-realistic paintings by Jane Duncan (who was named an emerging artist in the 2013 Artist Project). The exhibit focuses on blank-slate toy models and aims to “animate and create a multitude of unique subtle narratives and moods using only the most basic tools and conventions of portraiture.” You can check out a preview of the exhibit here. The opening reception is on August 29th and starts at 7 p.m. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), all day, FREE. Details
- Photography: As promoters of all things dark and spooky, Rue Morgue presents a haunted photography show, These Bones Shall Rise. French artist Fabien Delage, known for his work in horror-movie art, has put together a collection of his 77 most disturbing, strange, and haunting photographs. Those who attend the launch party can meet Delage, pick up free posters and prints, and enter a draw to win an exclusive 12″ x 18″ piece. The exhibit runs until September 29th. Metropolis Factory (50 Edwin Avenue), 6 p.m., FREE. Details
- Comedy: Comedians across Toronto are coming together to support the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. The event, called Friends With Benefits, will feature a number of guests, each of whom will bring his or her own brand of sketches, solo work, or improv. On the bill are Kirsten Rasmussen, Ghost Girls, Marshall Lorenzo, and more. The event is being held in memory of the organizer’s father, Bill Reoch. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $10. Details
- Music: Here’s a pretty star-studded musical event that you won’t want to miss. Berkeley Street Theatre’s holding a Jazz Jam which includes a few names that you might be familiar with. Performers include some of the members of Caribou as well as Pick a Piper, who’ll be doing a DJ set with live musicians. The entry fee also includes a drink ticket, so it’s definitely money well spent. Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), 9 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), 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
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
- 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
- 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
Theatre: Known as Shakespeare’s greatest villain, the title character in Richard III doesn’t seem an obvious choice of anti-hero for Shakespeare in the Ruff, an east-end alfresco classical theatre company, revived in 2012 after a six-year absence. The play, one of the Bard’s longest, typically runs more than three hours in its entirety, and is full of politics, intrigue, and murder.
Not your typical fare for summer theatre in the park. But the company, which delighted audiences with its madcap Two Gentlemen of Verona last year, has two aces up its sleeves: a fruitful collaboration with director, actor, and educator Diane D’Aquila, and leading man (and D’Aquila’s former National Theatre School student) Alex McCooeye. Withrow Park (Bain and Logan Avenues), 7 p.m., PWYC ($15 suggested donation). 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: 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
- Comedy: You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding. Second City (51 Mercer Street), 8 p.m., $24–$29. 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.