Halloween candy may be rotting your teeth, but you can enrich your brain with this month’s ROM Out and About. Join ROM educator Deirdre Keleher in a cozy social setting for Halloween Trivia Night. Form a team with some friends, or go alone and make new ones as you demonstrate just how much you know about the spookiest day of the year.
The Loonatic Fringe tumbles into Toronto with its modern vaudeville show, From the Prairies, With Love. This unique James Bond–inspired spoof cabaret is bursting at the seams with comedy, music, magic, and circus acts. The cast features Fringe artists from across North America, including Kristian Reimer, Paul Hutcheson, Sharon Nowlan, and Chris Bange.
Jamaican-British playwright Debbie Tucker Green isn’t afraid to touch on heavy subjects, bringing them to light with a blunt but poetic voice. Her play dirty butterfly tells the story of three people—two black and one white—living in a poor London neighbourhood. The thin walls of their tenement houses don’t allow for secrets, and so the harsh realities of domestic violence and racial economic divides are exposed. Presented by Bound to Create Theatre, the play features gut-wrenching performances from Kaleb Alexander, Beryl Bain, and Lauren Brotman.
We can confidently say that this ain’t your grandma’s bingo night. Punk Rock Bingo is exactly what it seems: a night of bingo set to the sweet sounds of punk music (and complete with drink specials to keep you hydrated). If that’s not enough to pique your interest, Toronto’s punk-rock drag queen Jenna Syde will be on hand to entertain the masses. Since it also happens to be Devil’s Night, the games will give way to a dance party courtesy of DJ Triple-X. Proceeds from the night will benefit The Will Munro Memorial Fund for Queers Living With Cancer.
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.
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).
Since its humble beginnings in the back room of Toronto’s Tranzac club back in 2003, Evil Dead The Musical has steadily risen in infamy as a ridiculously fun, tongue-in-cheek, gore-soaked musical experience. From those earliest shows, the musical has gone on to make an off-broadway debut, to win and be nominated for several Dora awards, and to play in dozens of cities around the world, from Montreal and Vancouver to Tokyo and Madrid. It was high time that the show make a triumphant homecoming to a stage in Toronto, and it finally has, at the Randolph Theatre.
Like the company’s recent triumph, Angels in America, Soulpepper’s newest show, The Norman Conquests, requires multiple trips to the theatre—or a hearty constitution for a full day of marathon attendance. Unlike Angels in America, the three instalments of The Norman Conquests—Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden—are comic in nature and small in scope, with each instalment taking place in a different part of a couple’s house. Written by prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, the three-part series features veteran members of the Soulpepper ensemble, and can be “enjoyed individually or in any combination.”
Throughout history, witches have typically been depicted as ugly women with evil powers. Not to mention, they’re usually found preying on children, riding brooms, and donning black cloaks and pointed hats. But is this accurate? Just in time for Halloween, “Witch” has materialized to challenge our previously held notions on the topic. The art exhibition includes pieces from over 20 artists that explore the history and concept of the witch.
Once a famed Canadian supervillain, Dr. Nefarious has retired to pursue a less evil existence out of the public eye. This new life includes a bed and breakfast, which he has opened with his invisible wife and his henchman, Half-Ape. Of course, with a setup like this, the B&B is guaranteed to get all sorts of normal guests…or not. Join the motley crew of The Nefarious Bed and Breakfast as they bumble through their opening weekend.
Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Farther West begins with an arresting image—a lithe young woman and a much older, much wider man lie naked next to each other on a bare cot. The woman, we learn, is May Buchanan, who traveled across Canada in the 1870s and 1880s as a prostitute, and then as a brothel owner. She begins to tell her story as she shoves her john off her and gets dressed.
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.
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 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.
Local playwright Laura Cockburn-Tulk has written two new one-act plays that Glasswater Theatre is premiering together as Prayers For the New World. The double header will have a limited run at the Berkeley Street Theatre. In the first play, Confessions, a Soviet-era spy discovers that she can communicate across space and time with an accused Salem witch while the two are imprisoned; in the second play, Gone Home, the mysterious death of a child tests a family’s bond during the the Second World War.
This event originally stated that one of the plays is titled Communion, but the correct title is Confessions. We regret the error.
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.
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.
Sunparlour Players, a Torontonian folk-rock institution, is taking over the Dakota Tavern every Wednesday in October and November to debut some new songs and bring new life to the older ones. To keep things fresh, they’ll be joined onstage by a different guest act every week.