Think you’ve got what it takes to lyrically slam with the best of them? The Toronto Poetry Slam is back. This edition features the 2012 Up from the Roots Team (which won the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, and includes well-known poet slammer Dwayne Morgan). Above, check out a particularly engaging performance from a previous Toronto Poetry Slam event.
Gather round, because Holy Oak is throwing a musical bash that you won’t want to miss. Toronto Does Toronto II will feature Mary Margaret O’Hara, Sandro Perri, Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), and many more. And if you head on over to Holy Oak’s event page, you’ll get to see the fairly awesome image chosen to represent just what “Toronto Does Toronto” means.
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.
When it was originally unveiled at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (England, not Ontario), the “David Bowie Is” exhibition shattered attendance records, selling over 42,000 advance tickets. Now that the show has come to Toronto, it’s easy to see why it was so successful. Composed of over 300 objects from David Bowie’s personal archive, spanning his entire career, the exhibit is arranged and presented as a completely immersive experience, enveloping visitors in a kaleidoscopic visual and aural landscape that would be overwhelming if it weren’t so brilliantly arranged and intelligently guided.
Where can you find over 150 of Canada’s top performing artists under one roof? At the Sixth Annual Global Cabaret Festival, of course. This year’s festival will include A Bob Dylan Songbook; “Rebel Rebel,” The Music of David Bowie; and Whirl, The Dance Cabaret. The event also will also feature the 2013 Soulpepper Dance Awards (the nominees will be showcased in the Whirl cabaret). Click here for the full schedule.
For its 34th birthday, the International Festival of Authors is actually getting younger. One of the themes this year is Brave New Word, a Huxleyan allusion referring not to the demise of books (a Brave New World scenario), but to the next generation of notable writers participating in the festival. Among this group is Canadian-born author Eleanor Catton, who last week, at age 28, became the youngest person ever to win the Man Booker Prize (for her second novel, The Luminaries).
Between satellite photos and sympathetic basketball stars, we’re learning a bit about what goes on in North Korea. The populace, we’re told, is brainwashed. Kim Jong-un lets his people starve to death while he focuses on more important things—like grooming his nuclear warheads and dropping bills on designer bags for his lady. The oppression and human rights violations are shocking, and yet the notoriously isolated country has become the world’s creepy clown. Somalia got Captain Phillips and North Korea got Team America.
The North Korean Human Rights Film Festival, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, will attempt to flesh out North Korea’s identity for Canadian viewers. Gilad Cohen, the festival’s executive director, points out that Kim Jong-un and his military take the spotlight away from the day-to-day stories of North Korean life. “We tried to cover every angle we could,” Cohen said. “We’re trying to personalize and humanize North Korea. We’re hosting several North Korean defectors—getting to know them as people before we discuss the issues.”
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.
Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead.
Fans of the seminal 1968 horror-film classic, Night of the Living Dead, will delight in Night of the Living Dead Live, a new theatrical production of the story. Despite a weak second act, it’s a fun black-and-white romp with some inventive deaths—and even a chipper musical number.
The great vaudevillian performer and comedian W.C. Fields is believed to have coined the infamous showbiz axiom, “Never work with animals or children.” Others in the entertainment industry have adopted the rule, because of the unpredictability of toddlers and beasts on stage. But in his recent play The Best Brothers, Daniel MacIvor embraces both of these snubbed theatrical minorities—even if the dog only appears for a brief moment and the two adult characters only act like feuding minors. And surprisingly, there’s little unpredictability in it.
The punchiest distillation of Claire Denis’s film style might well be in 2002’s Vendredi soir, a sublime romance in its own right and a highlight of Objects of Desire: The Cinema of Claire Denis, TIFF Cinematheque’s upcoming retrospective of the celebrated French auteur’s work.
On stage now at the Panasonic Theatre are 85 tiny pieces of artwork. Beautifully detailed, textured, colourful, and startlingly evocative, these creations are intensely mesmerizing—even when hanging lifeless on a display wall, their toothless mouths gaping open.
When they get hands stuck up their asses, though, it’s an entirely different story.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Mirvish Productions announced an expanded season last month that includes the following: Chicago, starring Elvis Stojko; this year’s Toronto Fringe hit The Musical of Musicals, the Musical!; and Puppet Up: Uncensored, which began a short engagement in Toronto last night. Billed as “a live, outrageous, comedy, variety show for adults only,” the show elicited genuine childlike enthusiasm from audience members. They had likely grown up watching Jim Henson’s beloved puppets on the The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock (or in the more sinister Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal). But Puppet Up: Uncensored is a very different from your average puppet show. Co-created by Brian Henson (Jim’s son) and comedian Patrick Bristow under the Henson Alternative label, these puppets are weird, foul-mouthed, and dirty. Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie would be appalled.
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 movies, when a car breaks down in the middle of nowhere it usually leads to sexy times, amusing adventures, or utter terror. The Rocky Horror Show is all of the above. In case you’ve somehow managed to avoid watching it on TV every October, the story follows the exploits of newly engaged (and stranded) couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who are forced to stay overnight in the strange home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. A Toronto Halloween tradition, the theatrical production of this cult classic returns to the stage for the sixth straight year, starring Cory Strong, Amanda Milligan, and Adam Joshua Norrad.
This post originally referred to its subject by an incorrect name. The theatrical version of Rocky Horror is called the The Rocky Horror Show, not The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The List is a Governor General Award-winning play in which the lone actress is lit up only by a single projector, which is used to visually illustrate the character’s emotions. Torri Higginson stars as a woman who speaks to the audience from her kitchen (her neighbour is dead; is she to blame?) in this story about everyday to-do lists.
This post originally contained an incorrect address for the event venue.
Sheila Heti is getting by with a little help from her friends.
In her acclaimed novel, How Should a Person Be?—which has attracted favorable notice from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon, and others—the 36-year-old writer documented her epic struggle to write a play about two families who meet on vacation in Paris. The play is her nemesis, a challenge seemingly insurmountable, and it throws her confidence and her friendships for a loop. Until now, that is, because that very play, All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, had its world premiere on Thursday night.
In keeping with play’s basement-bar motif, your program for Bob Kills Theatre’s production of Pulitzer-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo comes in a drink-menu format. The venue, a newly renovated basement hall called The Downstage (previously used by the Playwright Project and other independent companies), has undergone considerable changes, and now boasts blacked-out walls, more lighting, and an actual (albeit small) stage. But most of Savage Limbo, described by Shanley as a “concert play,” is set in the round on broken-down beer-box flooring that’s supposed to suggest a neighbourhood watering hole. There, a motley assortment of dreamers and malcontents are trying to change their lives.