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Urban Planner: April 29, 2014

In today's Urban Planner: cartooning Canadians, true stories told live, and a theatrical emergency.

Storytelling gets visual in the 164th issue of Descant Magazine. Image courtesy of Shannon Gerard.

  • Books: Descant Magazine is ready to release its 164th issue, and this time around, it’s expanding its content beyond the written word. Cartooning Degree Zero explores the idea of visual storytelling, and focuses on Canadian comic artists. Join contributors Shannon Gerard, Chris Kuzma, Rachel Richey, Andy Verboom, Gillian Goerz, Mark Connery, and Maurice Vellekoop for live readings, snacks, and raffles at the launch party. The Handlebar (159 Augusta Avenue), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Performing Arts: True Stories Told Live isn’t just a snazzy title—it’s the description of what’s going down in the back room of the Garrison on this fine Tuesday evening. Come by, have a drink, and listen to real people telling real stories. Without using notes, Rob Norman, Erin Rodgers, Jennifer Walls, Brian Spitz, and Ted Morris will each present completely true tales under ten minutes long. The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West), 7:15 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: Be honest: you’re one of those drivers who slows down to gape at traffic accidents, aren’t you? Outside the March aims to satisfy this morbid curiosity with Rosamund Small’s Vitals. In this unique, interactive theatre experience, the 30-person audience gets to accompany Anna (Katherine Cullen) as she gets dispatched out to the scene of an emergency. As the location of the performance is undisclosed, guests will pick up their tickets—and directions to the venue—at 149 Roncesvalles Avenue. 7:30 p.m., $30, $25 for seniors and those under 30. Details

Ongoing…

  • Art: If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 adults. Details
  • Art: “The greatest art always returns you to the vulnerabilities of the human situation.” – Francis Bacon

    “In the human figure one can express more completely one’s feelings about the world than in any other way.” – Henry Moore

    These quotations, which welcome visitors to Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” immediately establish the exhibition’s tone and focus. Each artist’s distortions of the human figure, shaped by their wartime experiences, capture the vulnerability of our mortal forms. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $25 adults. Details

  • Theatre: Broken people, obsession, loss, war, and poverty don’t usually make for the most uplifting stories. But what if love were thrown in? Of Human Bondage does just that. Regarded as one of the world’s greatest novels, it has been brought to life by playwright Vern Thiessen, and will make its world premiere on the Soulpepper Theatre stage. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., $29–$74. Details
  • Theatre: It’s 1977, and a group of friends in England are gathering for a soirée. A pretty standard concept, that’s for sure, but Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party takes things to another level with a playful romp through the lives of these suburban socialites. Witness the hilarity and awkwardness as the hostess from hell metaphorically tears her guests to pieces. Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 7:30 p.m., $25–$29.50. Details
  • Theatre: Zack and Abby are the couple that others envy—the ones who seem to have it all. But secrets hide behind the beautiful home, the loving marriage, and the promising careers. Company Theatre’s Belleville—produced in association with Canadian Stage—explores the darkness that’s revealed in this seemingly perfect relationship after Abby finds her husband at home one day when he’s supposed to be at work. Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), 8 p.m., $22–$49. Details
  • Music: Small World Music Society is celebrating Asian and South Asian Heritage Month with the Asian Music Series. Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion, Sultans of String, Jonita Gandhi, and Shafqat Amanat Ali are among the many talented artists who will perform in venues across the city throughout April and May. Multiple venues, 8 p.m., $12–$109. Details
  • Theatre: If you’re in the mood for a murder mystery with a religious twist, you’ll want to check out The Last Confession. David Suchet (Poirot) and Richard O’Callaghan star in this play about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. After only 33 days in office, and having warned three cardinals that they would be replaced, he is found dead. Though the Vatican refuses to open an official investigation, Cardinal Benelli goes out in search of the truth. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), 8 p.m., $35–$119. Details
  • Theatre: Erin Shields’ Soliciting Temptation, premiering now at Tarragon Theatre, was highly anticipated—it’s the first new play since 2010 from the eminent female playwright, known for the Governor General Award-winning If We Were Birds. In some respects, it lives up to the hype. It deals with the difficult, often-overlooked subject of child sex tourism, and it does so thoughtfully and with nuance. The overall experience, though, is somewhat underwhelming, because the compelling ideas explored are undercut by an implausible premise. Tarragon Theatre, Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. Details
  • Theatre: Most unsolicited messages from admirers to famous writers do not result in collaborations: but when Lindsay Cochrane, kindergarten teacher and English literature grad, emailed Yann Martel, the acclaimed author of Life of Pi, about adapting one of his novels into a stage play, the two ended up joining forces. The result is Cochrane’s first play, Beatrice & Virgil, on now at Factory Theatre (in a co-production with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre). With the help of director Sarah Garton Stanley, Cochrane has made an impressively valiant effort to wrangle some large, abstract, and troublesome ideas into a well-crafted work of live theatre. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street), 8 p.m., $23–$45. 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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