In today's Urban Planner: a tribute to Beethoven, a photo exhibit about man-made wastelands, and Holodeck Follies returns.
- Music: Why subject yourself to yet another food court meal, when you can have Lunch with Ludwig? Members of The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and A Far Cry Orchestra join forces for this special tribute to Beethoven. Focusing on his creations for string quartet, two pieces from his early and middle periods will be featured: Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2, and Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 74, The Harp. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), 12 p.m., FREE. Details
- Art: Steam Whistle’s October art exhibit finds beauty in the disintegration of man-made landscapes. Photographers Gerry Kaiser and Brad Walsh have captured broken down, abandoned manufacturing plants across North America to create a commentary on our consumerist culture. “Wasteland: A photographic journey into the heart of Urban Decay” runs all month. Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Dance: ProArteDanza brings nine talented performers and a wide range of contemporary dance to the stage with Season 2013, as part of Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps series. The show features the world premiere of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—3rd Movement, choreographed by Roberto Campanella and Robert Glumbek, as well as performances of Fractals: a pattern of chaos, and Shifting Silence. Harbourfront Centre, Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West), 8 p.m., $18–$39. Details
- Comedy: It’s time for your monthly dose of Star Trek-themed improv, presented by The Dandies! In Holodeck Follies Episode Nine: Barcode of Honour, the crew of the USS Albatross is charged with transporting the Achilles Heel vaccine to Syrius VI, and Ensign Guy must resolve a secret issue from his past before it destroys them all! Not into the sci-fi stuff? There will also be plenty of “normal” sketch and stand-up comedy courtesy of Beggar’s Canyon and Garrett Jamieson, and a special musical performance from Candice Sand. Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Avenue), 8 p.m., $7. 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: If you look out the window while riding the bus from downtown to Markham, you’ll notice the urban landscape gradually unfolding into the suburban: tight-knit city streets loosen into faster multi-lane roads, box stores assemble in beige-brick clusters, and everywhere new structures are being outstripped by even newer buildings at various stages of completion.
Markham just upgraded itself from town to city in July 2012, and is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse municipalities in the country. And while the place may not inspire many enthusiastic road-trips from downtowners, Land|Slide Possible Futures, a new, large-scale public-art exhibition, invites visitors to explore Markham’s history, its quickly changing present, and its potential evolution—while also challenging glib notions surrounding the suburbs themselves. Markham Museum (9350 Markham Road), all day, FREE. Details
- Art: When it was originally unveiled at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (England, not Ontario), the “David Bowie Is” exhibition shattered attendance records, selling over 42,000 advance tickets. Now that the show has come to Toronto, it’s easy to see why it was so successful. Composed of over 300 objects from David Bowie’s personal archive, spanning his entire career, the exhibit is arranged and presented as a completely immersive experience, enveloping visitors in a kaleidoscopic visual and aural landscape that would be overwhelming if it weren’t so brilliantly arranged and intelligently guided. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $30 (includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: Like the company’s recent triumph, Angels in America, Soulpepper’s newest show, The Norman Conquests, requires multiple trips to the theatre—or a hearty constitution for a full day of marathon attendance. Unlike Angels in America, the three instalments of The Norman Conquests—Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden—are comic in nature and small in scope, with each instalment taking place in a different part of a couple’s house. Written by prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, the three-part series features veteran members of the Soulpepper ensemble, and can be “enjoyed individually or in any combination.” Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), all day, $51–$68. 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: 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: When we met Kat Lanteigne the day before her new play, Tainted, opened at Aki Studio Theatre, the first thing she did was apologize for her eye twitch. She had been getting less than four hours of sleep a night as she readied the production for the stage.
Tainted, directed by Vikki Anderson and presented by GromKat Productions and Moyo Theatre, is a play that takes on Canada’s tainted-blood scandal, exploring the devastating impact that tainted blood products have upon one fictionalized family. Aki Studio Theatre (585 Dundas Street East), 8 p.m., $27–$42. Details
- Comedy: It’s time to go back to school—with Bad Dog Theatre Company and its new improv serial, Wayward. Join the staff and students of the Our Lady of St. Gordon of Levitt all-girls Catholic school for a darkly comedic look at religion, rebellion, and the complicated web of relationships between women. Comedians Aurora Browne, Jen Goodhue, Carolyn Taylor, Christy Bruce, Ashley Comeau, Ann Pornel, Jocelyn Geddie, and Kirsten Rasmussen will make up the powerful female cast, and Laura Barrett (Sheezer, The Hidden Cameras) will provide the music. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $12 adults, $10 students. 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.