In this Weekend Planner: FIGMENT takes over Olympic Island, the AGO's Ai Weiwei exhibit opens, and zombies wash your car.
- Art: Imagine if Nuit Blanche stretched all the way out to the Toronto Islands. That’s kind of what to expect from FIGMENT Toronto. This weekend-long event turns Olympic Island into a giant piece of collaborative artwork. It’s open to all who wish to be a part of it. Click here to get involved. Olympic Island (Olympic Island), Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m., FREE. 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), Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m., $25 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: StoryMobs is a unique way to revisit your favourite childhood stories. Essentially, it’s a storytelling flash mob. This instalment features the classic Robert Munsch tale The Paper Bag Princess, so expect to see costumes and choreography, in addition to readings from the book. The mob’s location is a secret until 24 hours in advance, so sign up here to get the details. Multiple venues, Saturday at 1 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: One of Canada’s best cabaret performers is presenting you with the chance to see a workshop of her newest piece, Full Dark Part 2. In this performance, Sharron Matthews uses “songologues” and the music of artists such as Florence and the Machine, Beyoncé, and Elton John to explore issues related to bullying, growing up without a father, sexuality, and danger. You can check out some of her previous workshop processes here. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m., $20. Details
- Outdoors: Tired of swimming pools? The Toronto Island Lake Swim is a chance to cool off and take a dip in the waters of Wards Island beach. There will be two open-water races (1.5 km and 3.8 km), and the proceeds will help keep Lake Ontario clean. Ward’s Island (Ward’s Island), Sunday at 10 a.m., $60. Details
- Parties: Before the summer comes to an end, head over to Woodbine Beach for the 2013 Blue Flag Beach Bonanza. You’ll find plenty of summer activities, including yoga on the beach, scavenger hunts, sandcastle competitions, and kite flying. This event is supposed to raise awareness of Blue Flag. Woodbine Beach (1675 Lakeshore Boulevard East), Sunday at 10 a.m., FREE. Details
- Offbeat: For those who require a minimum amount of blood and guts in their everyday life, there’s the 4th Annual Zombie Car Wash (BLOODS’N’SUDS). Proceeds from getting your car washed by the undead will go towards the Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade. The organizers are also promising “blood treatment” and “zombie attack” for a small additional fee (ask at your own risk). Classic Coin Car Wash (1286 College Street), Sunday at 12 p.m., Donation. Details
- Performing Arts: Looking to see some of Toronto’s best performance artists and comedians in one place? Doored, an event curated by 2013 AGO artists-in-residence Life of a Craphead, offers you just that. This month’s edition features eight acts, in a “fancy” environment. Hurry and get your tickets, because they sell out each month. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), Sunday at 8 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
- Music: Although SummerWorks is best known as a theatre festival, the SummerWorks Music Series has developed a reputation for shows that combine music, theatre, and visual art in unexpected ways. Here are a few of them that we’re particularly looking forward to. Multiple venues, all day, Various prices. Details
- Festivals: As with so many of Toronto’s arts festivals, every year SummerWorks seems to get bigger. Bigger as in more shows, bigger as in bigger names, bigger as in international reach, and bigger in terms of its importance in premiering exciting new work. Two major hits from last year’s festival, Iceland and Terminus, have since been seen on larger stages.
- Film: The best film-viewing event on the open seas (well, Lake Ontario) is back for another summer of free screenings. Sail-In Cinema projects films on a two-sided screen in the harbour. This means you can watch either from shore with your own blanket and chairs or, if you have a boat, from the water. Each screening will start at dusk. Sugar Beach (25 Dockside Drive), Thursday at 9 p.m., FREE. 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, all day and all day, FREE. 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), Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m., $12–$16. 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
- Dance: Princess Productions presents four days of contemporary movement during the Dance: Made in Canada festival. Serge Bennathan, Yvonne Ng, and Cylla von Tiedemann have curated three series, showcasing a total of seven dance works performed by artists from across Canada. A special late-night series entitled What You See Is What You Get boasts 10-minute pieces from choreographers who are chosen on a lottery basis. Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis Street), Saturday at 7 p.m., $10–$25. 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), Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 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), Saturday at 7:30 p.m., $5-$68. 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.), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m., PWYC. Details
- Theatre: Revisiting history is more fun with a soundtrack, as you’ll find in The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream. Based on the story of one of rock’s most influential bands, this Broadway-show-meets-concert takes the audience back through the ’60s with hit songs like “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” and “It’s a Beautiful Morning.” Produced and directed by the legendary Steven Van Zandt, the show combines performance, archival footage, live narrative, and film reenactments. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m., $59–$200. Details
- Theatre: Evergreen Brick Works may be a cool place to ride a bike or check out a farmer’s market, but it also has a rich history that many people don’t know about. Memory in the Mud brings light to these stories with a unique style of roving, interactive theatre courtesy of Words in Motion. Learn about the people who lived and worked at Brick Works throughout the years, including German prisoners of war and those who were left homeless during the Great Depression. Young Welcome Centre, Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Avenue), Sunday at 2:30 p.m., $5 children, $10 adults. 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
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.