In today's Urban Planner: the JFL42 comedy festival begins; a talk with Darwin Fisher, an Insite program manager; opera scenes at Tapestry Briefs.
Comedy: The planners behind Just For Laughs 42 sure do have a good sense of humour. For starters, the name is a little bit of a joke. Anyone thinking that the “42″ refers to the number of years the comedy festival has been in operation would be sorely mistaken—it actually denotes the number of events taking place during the ten days of the festival’s run.
This year’s JFL42 will feature three headline events: appearances by Sarah Silverman and Aziz Ansari, and a live reading of an episode of Family Guy—complete with cast members and a 40-piece orchestra. But there’s plenty more worth checking out. Multiple venues, all day, $69–$299. Details
- Talks: Supervised injection sites are a hot topic now there’s talk of them making their way to Toronto. Here then is a talk with Darwin Fisher, a program manager at Insite, a supervised injection site in Vancouver. He’ll be speaking about how Insite’s services have changed lives and helped the community. Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito will moderate the event, which will be followed by a Q&A and coffee. Dalla Lana School of Public Health (155 College Street), 6:30 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Tapestry Briefs is a series of new opera scenes developed by a number of talented people, including composers Jocelyn Morlock and Chris Thornborrow, playwrights Morris Panych and Julie Tepperman, and singers Carla Huhtanen and Krisztina Szabó. Studio 315 (9 Trinity Street, Distillery Historic District), 7:30 p.m., $35. Details
- Film: Rue Morgue is helping to fill the gap between TIFF and the Halloween season with CineMacabre, its monthly dose of horror-movie goodness. September’s spotlight is Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter, featuring Zombieland‘s Abigail Breslin. Trapped by dark forces in some sort of suburban purgatory, Breslin is forced to repeat the same day over and over. The catch: attempting to solve the mystery of her situation invites the wrath of a violent and sinister stranger. Natali will be on hand to introduce the film, along with members of the cast. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Theatre: FeverGraph Theatre Company wants you to get mad (and perhaps go mad) over their new stage production. Look Back in Anger focuses on four people, and the anger that cripples each of them. Rather being a study of hot tempers, the play examines our common desire to feel something deeper than what reality delivers, our sense of futility, and the anger that ensues. Directed by Anita La Selva, the piece was co-conceived by its performers: Eli Ham, Adriano Sobretodo Jr., Tosha Doiron, and Zoë Sweet. Thrush Homes Empire Gallery (1093 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $20, $15 for students/seniors/arts workers. 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.