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Urban Planner: February 21, 2014

In today's Urban Planner: an electroacoustic showcase, Allen Ginsberg party songs, and a really fancy videogame party.

A Polish edition of the Electric Party Songs format. Photo by Laura Kosińska.

  • Performing Arts: The Art of Time Ensemble goes all Metal Machine Music for its latest showcase. Okay, not that particular album—but it will be featuring a mix of electronic and instrumental music by contemporary composers like Jonathan Goldsmith, Jean Piché, and Christos Hatzis for Electro/Acoustic. As with most Art of Time shows, there’ll be a variety of performers (besides the musicians, of course): for instance, the Hatzis piece will feature Benjamin Kamino dancing choreography by Peggy Baker. Harbourfront Centre, Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West), 8 p.m., $25-$59. Details
  • Games: While the question of whether videogames should be considered art has always been a contentious one, and the subject may have been hashed out within the gaming community in great and terrible detail, from outside that inner sanctum it remains pertinent. The medium has experienced an indie renaissance in the past few years, and as creators and developers are increasingly producing stranger, more diverse, and more artful games, the question is raised over and over again. It also seems a particularly relevant query considering a Fancy Videogame Party with over 700 confirmed guests is going to be taking place at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), 8 p.m., $15.00, $12.00 for AGO Members. SOLD OUT. Details
  • Music: Polish performance group the Open Program has spent the past week participating in performances and workshops arranged in conjunction with University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. With its time in Toronto drawing to a close, it’ll be introducing one more concept to Torontonians. Electric Party Songs is a night of poetry and song based on Allen Ginsberg’s legendary salons, and the Polish performers will be collaborating with local singers and actors to bring a unique blend of performance styles to life. The Round (152 Augusta Avenue), 8 p.m., $15-$25. Details

Ongoing…

  • Art: Virginia Woolf once remarked that “on or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $16.50–$25 (includes general admission). Details
  • Theatre: It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the Nazis are on the brink of supremacy. But there remains another side to the city—one that’s decadent, permissive, and artistic. And that’s the world we meet when we’re beckoned into the extravagant and sleazy Kit Kat Klub by eccentric Emcee and his troupe of saucy dancers, performing “Willkommen.” Cabaret’s primary plotline begins with the arrival of American writer Cliff Bradshaw (David Light). Without a real agenda, he’s come to Berlin to work on his novel and teach English. A patron of the Kit Kat Klub, he catches the eye of the star performer Sally Bowles (Kylie McMahon). A natural stunner, Sally is a bubbly young Brit with a powerhouse voice, a dancer’s grace, and a reputation for flitting from man to man like a bumblebee in a flowerbed. It’s not long before she and Cliff fall in love—though the question of whether he’ll be able to satisfy her wild side constantly hangs over their heads. The sweetness lacking in their relationship can be found in the romantic pairing of the boarding house landlord Fraulein Schneider (Adeen Ashton Fogle) and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Don Berns). As appealing as they are, though, these middle-aged lovebirds are just as susceptible to trouble and heartbreak as their younger counterparts. Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), 49-$59. Details
  • Comedy: Bad Dog Theatre launches its 12th annual Globehead Tournament for the month of February, and the teams slated to compete are particularly stacked this year. Along with Torontoist favourites like the National Theatre of the World, Tony Ho, and the Sufferettes, there’s a bunch of new teams featuring some of our favourite improvisers, including Michael Fassbender (Picnicface’s Kyle Dooley and Versus Valerie’s Hannah Spear, who just won an IAWT award) and the Muggers (Two Weird Ladies’ Mandy Sellers and Illusionoid’s Nug Nahrgang.) The preliminary rounds run Friday and Saturday the first two weekends in February; the quarter-finals, Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15; and the semi-finals and finals, February 21 and 22. For the full schedule and ticket pricing, check out Bad Dog’s website. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $10–$40. Details
  • Fashion: Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup. Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre Avenue), 11 a.m., $6-$15. Details
  • Theatre: At 35 years old, the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre may be nearing middle age, but it’s still the place to go if you’re looking for experimental, boundary-breaking, not-your-theatre-next-door kind of stuff in Canada. Every February, Buddies in Bad Times warms up the Church Street neighbourhood with public works, cabarets, live performance art, and a robust lineup of emerging and established artists pushing their own limits and those of the political and cultural moment. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 6 p.m., FREE–$20. Details
  • Theatre: What do you get when you combine Mozart and Atom Egoyan? Così fan tutte, a wryly comedic opera. Also known as The School For Lovers, it sees two couples struggle with issues of faith, desire, and temptation. The Canadian Opera Company welcomes the return of Egoyan, who will be directing this winter season opener. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), 7:30 p.m., $24-$365. Details
  • Theatre: The word “idiot” was originally used in ancient Greece to describe a person unconcerned with public affairs like politics, but dedicated to following private pursuits. The setting of Robert E. Sherwood’s 1936 romantic comedy Idiot’s Delight, a failing luxury hotel in the Italian Alps called the Hotel Monte Gabriele, initially seems to be full of idiots: newlyweds on their honeymoon, a group of burlesque singers and their manager, a blissfully genial waiter, and a couple of ornery managers sour over the lack of business. And when a spark flies between a beautiful and mysterious Russian and a smooth-talking American showbusinessman, while the other guests dance, drink, eat, and sing, there’s another piece of juicy plot that can be used to distract themselves, and the audience, from the war that’s literally raging outside the hotel windows. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., $29–$74. Details
  • Theatre: Bollywood is the force that brings two stories of self-exploration together in Same Same But Different. After her mother’s life is changed by a run-in with the world of Indian cinema, Aisha—a Canadian-born actress—realizes that she must face her prejudices about nationality and skin colour in order to rise to stardom. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 7:30 p.m., PWYC–$32.50+HST. Details
  • Dance: The producers of Riverdance have spawned yet another on-stage extravaganza. With a talented cast of 38, Heartbeat of Home is a high-energy show, combining Irish, Latin, and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Torontonians get the honour of seeing the production’s North American debut—take it in before it’s gone! Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria Avenue), 8 p.m., $35-$130. Details
  • Theatre: Let’s face it: being a twenty-something can kinda suck. Pumped full of confidence and aspirations, we flee the family nest…and fall flat on our faces. Avenue Q uses songs (written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) and puppetry both to lament and poke fun at this difficult time. Much like Sesame Street, it has a cast made up of human actors who interact with a variety of furry creatures, who themselves have hands up their butts. Think that description is tasteless? This might not be the show for you—these puppets are crude and lewd, and have a taste for alcohol and porn. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), 8 p.m., $49-$59. Details
  • Theatre: The Scarborough Music Theatre brings Louisa May Alcott’s classic Civil War story to the stage for a short run. Little Women follows the lives and struggles of four young sisters as they grow up while their father is off at war. Directed by Michael Jones, this musical features spirit-lifting and tear-jerking performances by Lauren Lazar, Katie Wise, Carina Cautillo, and Sarah DaCunha. Scarborough Village Theatre (3600 Kingston Road), 8 p.m., $27. Details
  • Dance: Told through South American music and dance, Arrabal is the story of a young girl desperate to find out what happened to her father after the Argentine military made him disappear when she was just a baby. Her search leads her to the Tango clubs of Buenos Aires, where she discovers both the truth, and herself. Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street), 8 p.m., $44-$84. Details
  • Theatre: Even though Billy was born deaf, his family strived to raise him the same way they would have a hearing-able child. Tribes sees him learn what it is to hear and be heard when he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is gradually becoming deaf herself. Presented by A Theatrefront Production, Canadian Stage, and Theatre Aquarius, this emotional play stars Stephen Drabicki and Holly Lewis. Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), 8 p.m., $22-$47. Details
  • Theatre: Sterling Studio Theatre calls issues of morality into question with its production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. When Kitty Warren’s daughter Vivie finds out just how her mother has been supporting their family, she must re-evaluate her views on sex, money, and power. Sterling Theatre (163 Sterling Road), 8 p.m., $18-$23. Details
  • Theatre: The image most commonly associated with Franz Kafka’s most famous work, the 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, is that of a giant insect trapped inside a bare, dirty room with a rotting apple lodged in his back—the bug was formerly a man named Gregor Samsa, and the room was formerly his bedroom. As we all know, this distressing and inexplicable transformation from man to bug happened in an instant, although its emotional and literary after-effects have been haunting English students ever since.

    The stage adaptation of The Metamorphosis by the Icelandic company Vesturport Theatre and London’s Lyric Hammersmith, on now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre with Mirvish Productions, is much more watchable than this introduction would suggest. The only bug you’ll see in this version is a trick of light and shadow. And that’s not the only trick up this show’s sleeve (or perhaps antenna?). Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), 8 p.m., $25–$99. Details

  • Theatre: What would happen if two characters from different books were to meet up outside their narratives? This is the basis of Brian Friel’s Afterplay, which explores the hypothetical relationship between two Anton Chekhov creations—Sonya from Uncle Vanya and Andrey from Three Sisters. For the price of admission, you’ll also get to indulge in authentic Russian tea during the performance, courtesy of the Campbell House. Campbell House Museum (160 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $25. Details
  • Comedy: The funny folks in Touch My Stereotype have an exciting new show to help us get through this dreary season. Their three-day-long revue—Hypothetical Spectacle— is packed with music, comedic sketches, videos, and more from Amanda McQueen, Lars Classington, Russell McLeod, Sima Sepehri, Robert Murphy, Liz Johnston, Eitan Shalmon, Padraigh MacDonald, and Chantale Renee. Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street), 9 p.m., $12 advance, $15 door. Details

Happening soon:

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.

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