BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it is a solo art exhibition by Jeff Blackburn featuring works that involve bears, which act as guides through various cityscapes (see above for example). Visitors will have the chance to see different public spaces from around the world (with bears!). The opening reception will be held on September 1st and will start at 7 p.m.
Looking for things to do over the long weekend? To celebrate Labour Day, drop by Unifest, a free concert at Nathan Phillips Square. Featuring major and diverse acts from across Canada—including Stars, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Les Colocs, Sister Says, and DJ Hedspin—the show will be hosted by Tash Jefferies.
The drama that happens within prison walls is perfect material for storytelling, hence the prevalence of jailhouse material in action movies, TV dramas like Oz, and plays like John Herbert’s controversial 1967 hit, Fortune and Men’s Eyes. Though Fortune is one of Canada’s most published scripts, modern audiences haven’t heard from inmates Smitty, Mona, Queenie, and Rocky in quite some time. BirdLand Theatre, known for successful productions of Assassins, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and last year’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, is currently mounting the play in a Distillery District dance studio. Their aim is to showcase this iconic piece of Canadian theatre history, known for exposing the mental and sexual abuse that happens to people in confinement. Unfortunately, this version carries little of the original production’s impact.
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.
If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions.
Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery.
Arti[face]: A Wink And A Nod Can Mean So Much is a new exhibit of photo-realistic paintings by Jane Duncan (who was named an emerging artist in the 2013 Artist Project). The exhibit focuses on blank-slate toy models and aims to “animate and create a multitude of unique subtle narratives and moods using only the most basic tools and conventions of portraiture.” You can check out a preview of the exhibit here. The opening reception is on August 29th and starts at 7 p.m.
Looking to brush up your cultural and history knowledge on all things Toronto? Heritage Toronto 2013 Tours offers you an enormous chance to learn tons and tons about the city you love via walking tours, bike tours, and more. Some of the events on the agenda of this weekly series include tours of Fort York, Korea Town, Don Valley, and Black Creek. It’s running all summer long so don’t miss out!
For the Labour Day weekend, Harbourfront Centre has programmed the Hot and Spicy Food Festival, a four-day experience of culinary delights, plus music, dance, and more. The festival kicks off with the Red Hot Market opening on Friday evening, and a headlining performance on the stage by jazz and hip-hop fusion tastemakers BADBADNOTGOOD.
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.
The Canadian National Exhibition, that storied summer fair, opens for its 135th season. For 18 days, there will be amusement-park rides late into the night, all manner of overindulgent foods to gorge on, long-running traditions like the Warrior’s Day Parade and the Air Show, concerts by bands like The Beach Boys and The New Pornographers, and much, much more.
Evergreen Brick Works may be a cool place to ride a bike or check out a farmer’s market, but it also has a rich history that many people don’t know about. Memory in the Mud brings light to these stories with a unique style of roving, interactive theatre courtesy of Words in Motion. Learn about the people who lived and worked at Brick Works throughout the years, including German prisoners of war and those who were left homeless during the Great Depression.
Known as Shakespeare’s greatest villain, the title character in Richard III doesn’t seem an obvious choice of anti-hero for Shakespeare in the Ruff, an east-end alfresco classical theatre company, revived in 2012 after a six-year absence. The play, one of the Bard’s longest, typically runs more than three hours in its entirety, and is full of politics, intrigue, and murder.
Not your typical fare for summer theatre in the park. But the company, which delighted audiences with its madcap Two Gentlemen of Verona last year, has two aces up its sleeves: a fruitful collaboration with director, actor, and educator Diane D’Aquila, and leading man (and D’Aquila’s former National Theatre School student) Alex McCooeye.
You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding.
In the 31st year of Shakespeare in High Park, Canadian Stage has programmed two productions that are performed on alternating evenings. The two plays could not be more different.
Both Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew involve manipulative spouses and deceptive plots—but where one ends in marriages and love, the other ends with bloodshed and terror. One is infamously problematic, and the other is one of Shakespeare’s most popular. And the two directors, Ted Witzel and Ker Wells, both of whom join Shakespeare in High Park after completing a directing program held in collaboration between Canadian Stage and York University, only exaggerate the differences.