In today's Urban Planner: an art exhibition all about witches, a monster-makeup workshop, and a talk about David Bowie.
- Art: Throughout history, witches have typically been depicted as ugly women with evil powers. Not to mention, they’re usually found preying on children, riding brooms, and donning black cloaks and pointed hats. But is this accurate? Just in time for Halloween, “Witch” has materialized to challenge our previously held notions on the topic. The art exhibition includes pieces from over 20 artists that explore the history and concept of the witch. Elephant Shoes (1342 Bloor Street West), 12 p.m., $5 suggested admission. Details
- Offbeat: Whether you participate in the Zombie Walk, have elaborate Halloween costume ideas, or just want to prepare a disguise for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, you’ll want to attend the Zombie and Monster Makeup Workshop. Presented by Complections College of Makeup Art and Design, the course—which covers basic to extreme makeup techniques—will be led by special makeup effects artists/instructors Stuart Conran (Shaun of the Dead, Hellraiser) and Ryan Louagie (Evil Dead: The Musical, Monster Warriors). Complections College of Makeup Art & Design (110 Lombard Street), 6 p.m., $80 for workshop, $164.75 for workshop + makeup kit. Details
- Books: It’s the time of year when everyone’s interest turns to darker topics. Robert Douglas, author of The Shadow of Dracula and the Great War and The Gothic from Lenin to Bin Laden aims to put an educational spin on things with his discussion of Gothic Culture in History. Drawing on his background as a historian, he’ll provide and in-depth look at the links between Gothic practices and key events throughout the years. Toronto Public Library, Palmerston Branch (560 Palmerston Avenue), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Music: Dr. Mike Daley is a York University professor, musician, and popular music expert. Naturally then, he knows a few things about David Bowie’s impact on pop culture. Join him for a fun and interesting Thought Exchange discussion about the artist, his career, and, of course, the AGO’s “David Bowie Is” exhibit. Advance registration is recommended. Call (416) 395-5639 to reserve your spot. North York Central Library (5120 Yonge Street), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
Books: This Is Not a Reading Series presents an evening full of talented females for the launch of a new book, EAT IT. Written by women, the book features a collection of pieces about food and its relationships with love, power, and social obligation. Drop by to take in performances by author Jessica Westhead, comic Sara Hennessey, and playwright Jessica Moss. There will also be a dance party with DJs Alexandra Molotkow and Chandler Levack.
Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $5 entrance fee, or FREE with purchase of the book ($15). 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
- 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
- Film: With the gala hangovers and celluloid-induced eye strain from the 2013 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival just beginning to fade away, film addicts who are already starting to feel the itch have another movie extravaganza to check out: the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Now in its eighth year, TAD is a celebration of everything frightening, disturbing, challenging, and gloriously bloody. While the primary focus of the fest is on horror films, there will also be generous offerings of speculative fiction, unusual action movies, and cult flicks. Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West), all day, Tickets $13. 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
- Comedy: Improv comedy performers from across North America will converge on Toronto for nine days during the Big City Improv Festival, including special celebrity performers like MADtv alumni Phil Lamarr and Jeff Richards. Also on the bill is recent Canadian Comedy Award winner MANTOWN, which will perform an improv set on opening night. Local acts include Burns and Gallo, winners of the Big City TKO competition, and Mark Little and Kyle Dooley, who impressed us during last month’s Just For Laughs 42 festival. Multiple venues, all day, $10–$60. 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: Kaha:wi Dance Theatre brings a unique First Nations creation story to the stage with A Story Before Time. The Onkwehonwe narrative—which embodies the beliefs, symbols, and dreams of its people—is conveyed through dance, theatre, and a blend of traditional and contemporary music. It incorporates both Mohawk and Cayuga languages. Young People’s Theatre Studio Space (165 Front Street East), 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., $15-$24 + HST & service charges. Details
- Theatre: Fans of the seminal 1968 horror-film classic, Night of the Living Dead, will delight in Night of the Living Dead Live, a new theatrical production of the story. Despite a weak second act, it’s a fun black-and-white romp with some inventive deaths—and even a chipper musical number. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 1:30 p.m., $20–$80. Details
- Film: The punchiest distillation of Claire Denis’s film style might well be in 2002’s Vendredi soir, a sublime romance in its own right and a highlight of Objects of Desire: The Cinema of Claire Denis, TIFF Cinematheque’s upcoming retrospective of the celebrated French auteur’s work. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 6:30 p.m., Tickets $12. Details
- Theatre: Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), 7:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
- Theatre: The great vaudevillian performer and comedian W.C. Fields is believed to have coined the infamous showbiz axiom, “Never work with animals or children.” Others in the entertainment industry have adopted the rule, because of the unpredictability of toddlers and beasts on stage. But in his recent play The Best Brothers, Daniel MacIvor embraces both of these snubbed theatrical minorities—even if the dog only appears for a brief moment and the two adult characters only act like feuding minors. And surprisingly, there’s little unpredictability in it. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. 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.