In today's Urban Planner: a documentary about an environmental activist who uses some unusual tactics, a vampire-themed book launch, and The Best Brothers opens at Tarragon Theatre.
- Film: Tim DeChristopher didn’t agree with the Utah Bureau of Land Management Oil and Gas lease auction in 2008. But instead of protesting it like everyone else, he simply walked inside and registered as Bidder #70. At the end of the day, he won, and subsequently protected 22,000 acres of land. Bidder 70, Cinema Politica’s first screening of the Fall, centers around DeChristopher’s ingenious act, his punishment, and the inspiration he provided to peaceful civil disobedience movements in the interest of climate justice. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), 6:30 p.m., Suggested donation $2–$10. Details
- Books: Whether you’re a vampire expert, or whether you have some things to learn about bloodsucking fiends (hint: most of them don’t sparkle), you’ll want to check out this event. Liisa Ladouceur (author of Encyclopedia Gothica) is launching her new book How To Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film and Fiction in the most appropriate fashion—with a vampire trivia night! Come by yourself (if you dare), or gather a team of up to 4 people to compete for prizes and prestige. Books will be available to purchase during a brief reading and signing before the trivia battle, so arrive early to pick up a copy and get an edge on the competition (obviously). Cadillac Lounge (1296 Queen St West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: The Tarragon Theatre opens its 2013/2014 season with Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers [PDF], in which polar-opposite brothers Hamilton and Kyle Best are brought together to plan the funeral of their mother. The older, unadventurous, and conservative Hamilton naturally doesn’t see eye to eye with the free-spirited Kyle, whose boyfriend is a sex worker. Grappling with the ridiculous circumstances leading to their mother’s death (a drag queen, a loudspeaker, and Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade), the brothers must deal with each other, as well as some tough questions concerning love, family, and who should get the family dog. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. 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
- Art: BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it is a solo art exhibition by Jeff Blackburn featuring works that involve bears, which act as guides through various cityscapes (see above for example). Visitors will have the chance to see different public spaces from around the world (with bears!). The opening reception will be held on September 1st and will start at 7 p.m. Gallery 431 (431 Roncesvalles Avenue), all day, FREE. Details
- Art: An art exhibition called “Not So Simple“ is opening at the newly minted 2186 Dundas gallery. The show features pieces by Sherie Myers that focus on realism and portraiture (of which you can check out some samples here). The opening reception is on September 12th at 7 p.m., and it will include a performance by UKAE. 2186dundas (2186 Dundas Street West, Toronto), all day, FREE. Details
- Food: There are plenty of weeks that involve the consumption of beer in Toronto, but there’s only one true Toronto Beer Week. As craft beer’s popularity continues to grow along with the roster of brewers in this city, Toronto Beer Week is a good opportunity to take the pulse of a thriving scene—or, just to knock back a few good brews and have some fun. Whichever you prefer. Here are a few events to look out for. Multiple venues, all day, Various prices. 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: Condo-ville isn’t exactly known for its access to organic and locally grown foods. MyMarket is trying to change that with weekly farmers’ markets set up in the CityPlace complex. Residents can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables virtually from their doorstep, while supporting local farmers. Everyone wins! Canoe Landing Park (Fort York Boulevard and Dan Leckie Way), 3:30 p.m., FREE. Details
- Outdoors: Want to get out of the city this summer but can’t afford anything beyond a lame “stay-cation”? Casa Loma wants to help ease the pain with Open Garden Access nights. Roam four acres of impeccably kept gardens and green spaces, covered with hundreds of roses and native wildflowers. If they weren’t perched upon an escarpment with a breathtaking view of the city, you might totally forget that you’re still downtown. Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), 4 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Bruce Hunter writes and stars in Dine Her, a zombie comedy set in the authentic George Street Diner. This undead spin on dinner theatre features a special menu by Ash Farrelly, music by Sean Fisher, and zombie dancers from One Immigrant Productions. George Street Diner (129 George Street), 7 p.m., $39.95. 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
- 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.