In today's Urban Planner:
- Festivals: Christie Pits and surrounding local venues will host more than 40 bands and music acts over three days during the Bloor Ossington Folk Festival, and it’s all free. Starting on Friday evening at venues like Saving Gigi and Studio 835, and expanding to all-day programming at Christie Pits on Saturday and Sunday, the festival lineup includes Julie Doiron, By Divine Right, catl., and many more (the festival’s criteria for “folk” being, more or less, local music). Local craft and food vendors and a festival beer garden will round out the experience—and again, all the bands are free. Multiple venues, all day, FREE. Details
- Offbeat: This is the Hip-Hop Karaoke night that really counts. For their fourth annual competition event, where 20 aspiring rappers will compete for bragging rights and prizes, the organizers have tapped DJ Paul E. Lopes, Ennis Esmer (CTV’s The Listener), Tara Chase, and old-school outfit Black Moon as judges. (Black Moon will also perform at the conclusion of the competition.) Revival (783 College Street), 9:30 p.m., $20 in advance, more at the door. Details
- Music: Motown cover night The Big Sound celebrates its second anniversary with its largest lineup yet. There are 28 musicians and singers scheduled to perform on stage, with DJ Wes Allen spinning classic soul tunes between sets. The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West), 10 p.m., $12 before 11 p.m., $15 after 11 p.m.. 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
- Music: For Lauryn Kronick and Jacqie Lucas, their upcoming benefit concert, A Luta Continua, isn’t just a way to raise money for LGBT safe-house programs in Uganda—it’s also a way for Toronto’s queer community to show solidarity with one half a world away. The proceeds will benefit Gender Equality and Health Organization Uganda, a group that provides safe houses for gay Ugandans who have been driven out of their communities. The Steady (1051 Bloor Street West), 7 p.m., PWYC. Details
Festivals: For their event’s seventh anniversary, the minds behind the Manifesto Festival of Community and Culture did some thinking on the theme of evolution.
“The number seven is a very sacred number, and really tied into the idea of regeneration,” says Manifesto chair Che Kothari. “Every seven years, every cell in the human body regenerates itself, and we’re kind of born again, and right now we’re kind of going through that as an organization.” Multiple venues, 12 a.m., Various prices. Details
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. Our overview of this year’s festival is below. Multiple venues, all day, $69–$299. 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
- 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), 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., $24–$29. 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
- 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
- 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.