Nuit Blanche is still a ways away, but if you like your art experiences to be super-sized, you’ll be pleased to know that the Toronto Art Expo is back in town. Get ready to see art and installations from over 200 artists from Canada and around the world. And if you’re worried about breaking your wallet, don’t be—the art spotlighted here ranges in values so there’s something for attendees of all budgets.
The Spur Festival, a fledgling arts and ideas celebration, hopes to get people rallying behind the issues. “We didn’t want to just have a festival for festivals’ sake,” says Helen Walsh, one of the co-founders. “We wanted to do something that would spur people into action, and spur thought into action.”
Now in its 21st year, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival remains as committed as ever to projecting every facet of the Jewish identity. This year’s programme consists of an eclectic mix of films in a multitude of genres and formats, from silent to animated. The documentaries alone cover a huge number of subjects, ranging from Neil Diamond, to Serge Gainsbourg, to Roman Polanski, and even to the history of the popular Jewish song “Hava Nagila.”
The festival opens on Thursday with a screening of the provocative Cowjews and Indians, in which filmmaker Marc Halberstadt attempts to “cut out the middle man” by enlisting Native Americans to take back his ancestors’ land in Germany. Here are a few other films worth seeking out during the festival’s run.
Since its debut in 1987, Images has had a special place on Toronto’s springtime film festival slate. Though the upcoming Hot Docs is bigger, Images’ selection of experimental and independent media art often feels purer. It’s a festival that invites audiences to consider the basic elements that make moving image-based arts like the cinema so resonant.
With technology rapidly evolving the way we read, where does the physical book fit into the future? The Future of the Book is a talk that will cover this topic, as well as what other transformations are in store for the future of reading. Moderated by Sarah Fulford and featuring Paul Holdengräber and Hugh McGuire.
When’s the last time you attempted to reconceptualize the dimensions of space? If it’s been a while, you might consider checking out a new exhibition called I Thought There Were Limits, which aims to do just that. This particular exhibit is unique in that the artwork forms a relationship with the site itself (in this case, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery). The work on display is brought to you by curator Julia Abraham (as part of the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto). The artists include Karen Henderson, Yam Lau, Gordon Lebredt, Kika Thorne, and Josh Thorpe.
Toronto is a great city for film buffs, and thanks to TIFF Kids International Film Festival, that includes the munchkins, too. The annual festival is about to kick off for the 16th time, and this year boasts a diverse lineup of programming for all ages, the premiere of Canada’s first 3D animated feature film, and a new partnership with Sesame Workshop.
Legoland (not to be confused with Legoland) tells the story of the “Gruesome Twosome,” Canada’s youngest drug dealers. Feeling out of place at their boarding school, siblings Penny and Ezra decide to break free and track down Penny’s pop idol, a journey they fund by selling their prescription drugs. This contemporary Vaudeville routine is told through puppetry, ukelele music, and gangster rap.
In 1897, Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler wrote a play so scandalous that at first he only shared it among his friends. It wasn’t publicly staged until 1920 and, unsurprisingly, it caused an uproar. The ruffled feathers had to do with La Ronde‘s frank discussion of sexual relationships—in particular, those between members of different social classes. But while the acts themselves were originally left up to the audience’s imagination, Soulpepper Theatre’s current, modernized adaptation goes all the way with its sex scenes.
The Whipping Man is a 2011 John Gassner New Play Award–winning play that’s set during Passover in 1865. The show tells the tale of a confederate officer who has returned home after the Civil War to find his family missing, but two former slaves remaining. While waiting for the family’s return, the concepts of master and slave, and those of slavery and war, are explored. Directed by Philip Akin and starring Sterling Jarvis, Brett Donahue, and Thomas Olajide.
Finally, an event for the sports and dance enthusiasts to attend together! World Stage presents Jo Strømgren Kompani’s A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football (“football” in the European sense—meaning, soccer). The show, which uses humour and intense physicality, bridges the gap between sport and art by focusing on the similarities between. The performance includes partial nudity, and isn’t recommended for children.
If there’s one thing that’s particularly impressive about Second City’s new mainstage show, The Meme-ing of Life, it’s how well balanced it is.
As the title implies, Meme-ing is nominally a show about the internet, and certainly there is a fair bit of internet-centric humour. (One sketch, about a boy who falls into a YouTube-induced coma that can only be cured by reading, is particularly on point.) That said, it isn’t just a series of jokes about cat videos. Instead, it’s a well-thought-out show that manages to offer something for pretty much everyone, without stretching itself too thin.
It’s hardly news nowadays when an actor disrobes onstage, giving an audience a glimpse at what’s underneath a costume. It’s another thing entirely when the theatre itself strips down to its bare bones.
For Canadian Stage’s production of THIS, by Melissa James Gibson, a Canadian playwright gaining popularity in New York City, artistic director (and director of the play) Matthew Jocelyn and set designer Astrid Janson did just that to the historic Berkeley Street Theatre in Corktown.
The Toronto Comedy Brawl is in the middle of a growth spurt. Despite humble beginnings, Ian Atlas’ amateur competition has grown from 64 participants to, this year, a few hundred.
Real-life mother and son, Asha and Ravi Jain, share the stage to tell their true, amusing story of cultural and generational clash in A Brimful of Asha. While on a trip to India, Ravi’s parents decide it’s time to introduce him to potential brides, despite his lack of desire to get married.
Longtime JAZZ.FM91 host and producer Jaymz Bee is celebrating his 50th Birthday Bash Week with a mix of public and private events around town. It all gets started Monday, April 8 at Hugh’s Room, where he’ll be feted by some of his favourite acts, like Scarlett Jane, Joe Hall, Heather Luckhart, and more. It peaks on Saturday, April 13 at Palais Royale, where Bee has an huge line-up of acts, including Terra Hazelton & Her Problems, The Shuffle Demons, and many more surprise guests. All the info for the week’s events can be found on Bee’s website.