The annual Cabbagetown Festival of the Arts is making its return for a 37th year. The festival, which features music, dance, film, theatre, and a mini-marathon across several days, is also a great chance to check out some of the art and culture of Cabbagetown. There will be vendors, buskers, and tasty food all along Carlton Street (from Parliament Street to Berkeley Street) and Parliament Street (from Carlton Street to Gerrard Street).
Now in its 38th year, the Toronto International Film Festival is a behemoth cultural institution, a one-stop shop for everything from star-studded red carpets to North American premieres for some of the most lauded names in world cinema. The most prestigious public film festival in the world, TIFF is also a major Toronto institution, turning King Street into ground zero for filmgoers, members of the press, and celebrities alike.
Searching for some solid political discourse to cap off your Thursday? Guess Who Got Engaged? is bringing you Ladies in the City Engage with Politics, an event where several smart women will talk about politics. The evening, which includes an opening reception and a short Politics 101 session, features a panel of women from three Toronto groups: the Toronto Food Policy Council, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and the Native Women’s Resource Centre.
Back for an astonishing eighth year, the annual Patsy Cline Birthday Show continues its tradition of offering an evening of performers doing their favourite Patsy Cline songs. Hosted by Heather Morgan, the event will include Kathryn Rose, Nancy Dutra, Terra Hazelton, and others, all of whom will be supported by an all-star backing band. This year also includes a tribute to country star George Jones, who passed away in April. A portion of the proceeds will go to ArtsCan Circle.
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.
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.
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 CaribbeanTales Film Showcase returns to Toronto for its eighth year, bringing films and documentaries from over 25 different countries. The opening-night gala features the world premiere of Christopher Laird’s No Bois Man No Fraid, which sees two Trinidadian martial artists enter the dangerous world of Kalinda (stickfighting). Over 10 feature pieces, and 30 short films will screen during the festival, many of which will include discussions with the respective directors.
Dancing on the Pier is back for its third year! If you didn’t participate in this great dance series last year, be sure not to miss out this time around. For the uninitiated, this weekly series offers different live bands and instructors to help you find your groove along the waterfront all summer long. Featuring music by the Toronto All-Star Big Band and Ricardo Barboza.
Many people now routinely consume television series in marathon benders, blowing through DVDs or Netflix downloads in a few evenings or a weekend. It’s that sort of experience—but live, of course—that awaits audiences at Soulpepper’s production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which offers over six hours of impeccably staged and performed theatre either in two long evenings or over the course of one full day, with multiple intermissions and a meal break.
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.
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.