There almost wasn’t a Trans March for Toronto’s 2013 Pride Week. Back in April, the City refused to grant Pride Toronto a full parade permit for the planned march. But community pressure has resulted in the Trans March being put back on the official schedule, with a “protest” permit that differs only slightly from the parade permit. And the City’s even providing a trans-friendly police escort, who’ll be dressing for the occasion. The earlier planned rally begins between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. at George Hislop Park, and the 8 p.m. step off follows a route that will take trans-marchers and supporters down Yonge Street, which is what Pride’s trans community wanted all along.
What better way to kick off Pride Weekend than with a bunch of hot chicks who aren’t afraid to get physical? Now in its fifth year, the Clam Slam Roller Derby has expanded to a double header. The Eager Beavers and the Clam Diggers take to the track first, featuring an all-queer roster of rising derby stars, before the WFTDA-ranked pros get nasty in the second game.
Cover band extraordinaire Dwayne Gretzky kicks off Indie Fridays, Yonge-Dundas Square’s weekly summer music night series, on June 28. The eight-piece rock ‘n’ roll cover band most recently played Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album from beginning to end. Later in the summer, Indie Fridays’ feature acts include soul singer Saidah Baba Talibah (August 2), Polaris Prize shortlisters Plants and Animals (August 23), and hip hop innovator Cadence Weapon (August 30).
“I can’t imagine a world in which I was born gay and wasn’t completely proud, to the point of arrogance. It’s like you are the REAL chosen people. You’re smarter, funnier, warmer, kinder, more capable of emotional intelligence, more stylish, and just straight-up more incredible than anybody else on this planet.”
That’s how Julie Klausner responded when asked what it means to have capital-P Pride in 2013. She’s known for such broad, unapologetic declarations—and, judging by the ticket sales for her upcoming headlining appearance at the Toronto Pride Week edition of Bitch Salad, a queer comedy show, the feeling is mutual. Klausner, who is New York-based, is an author (she wrote the 2010 bestselling dating memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band, and the recently released young-adult novel, Art Girls Are Easy), a host (her interview show, How Was Your Week, has been called “one of the few essential podcasts” by the New York Times), a television writer (she writes for Billy Eichner’s manic pop-culture quiz show Billy On the Street), a cabaret and sketch performer, and a contributor to Vulture, Spin, Jezebel, and the New York Times. She’s also a cultural critic, a tastemaker, and a redhead.
For the Beerprov three-year-anniversary show, host and producer Jim Robinson has a number of past quick-thinking-and-drinking champs booked, including James Gangl, Ashley Botting, Alistair Forbes, and a special returning guest, Canadian improv legend Colin Mochrie.
The 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival descends on the city on June 21 with a huge “free for all” event. That means all of Friday, June 21’s programming at every Jazz Festival venue is, yes, completely free of charge. There will be concerts from local favourites Molly Johnson and Mary Margaret O’Hara, plus a show by Smokey Robinson and Martha Reeves, who will be launching the fest from its epicentre, Nathan Phillips Square.
Here’s a rundown of some of the shows worth checking out on Friday—and during the rest of the festival, when you’ll actually have to pay.
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.
While most festivals are geared towards some specific audience—like the Inside Out Festival or the Jewish Film Festival, for instance—where ReelHeart International Film Festival separates itself from the pack is by welcoming all submissions, as long as they have what the organizers deem to be “real heart.”
There are a lot of chefs in the kitchen for the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, a triptych set in three time periods that tells the stories of amateur actors (played by real actors) involved in staging performances of the story of Christ. Three different Toronto independent theatre companies, all with reputations for innovative staging and creation in their past work, each tackle one of the three acts. Ordinarily, such a complicated arrangement would be to a show’s detriment, but not in this case. While you need to be prepared for a marathon of theatre (the show runs four hours, incluing two intermissions), you’re certainly going to get your money’s worth.
Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension.