Chicago hip-hop artist Chancelor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, is barely into his 20s, but already has a platinum record (April’s Acid Rap) and an appearance at Lollapalooza under his belt. His Social Experiment Tour, which kicked off last Friday, comes to town with openers DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn.
Playwrights Canada Press launches its fall slate of newly published plays with the PLCN Fall Book Launch. The event will feature readings from authors including Keith Barker, Linda Griffiths, and Jordan Tannahill; the evening will be hosted by Jon Kaplan and Susan G. Cole of Now Magazine.
When we go to the theatre (especially if the plan is to write about the experience), we try to leave everything going on in the world offstage in the lobby. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. This was the case when we went to see Moss Park just a few hours after the mayor of Toronto had announced that, while he had indeed smoked crack cocaine, he wasn’t going to do anything at all to atone for his misdeeds.
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.
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.
It’s not every day that a media tour opens with the injunction not to photograph “the sex blob,” but so began TIFF’s preview of “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” the organization’s first large-scale touring exhibition (for now, it’s stationed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s HSBC Gallery). It’s an exhaustive, stunning look at some of the wildest, most perverse creations of a pioneer of the body-horror genre—who also happens to be Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmaker.
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.”
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.
Constantly mutating theatre company Small Wooden Shoe has launched a variety show to complement its popular Difficult Plays and Simple Songs reading/sing-along series, and it’s going old-school, making the performance a radio show (which presumably will also be a podcast). The line-up for The Fun Palace Radio Variety Show on November 4 includes the Fun Palace Players and special guests Anand Rajaram, Rob Baker, and Katie Ewald.
The Toronto Public Library launches its fifth-annual On Stage Arts Series, giving Torontonians inside glimpses of new upcoming plays with the artistic directors of different companies. On October 28, Factory Theatre co-artistic director Nigel Shawn Williams talks with The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble playwright Beth Graham; on November 4, Studio 180 AD Joel Greenberg talks about Gods of Carnage; on November 11, recent Siminovitch Prize recipient Chris Abraham, AD of Crow’s Theatre, chats with Marcus Youssef and James Long, writers and performers of Winners and Losers; and on November 25, Theatre Passe Muraille’s associate artistic producer Rob Kempson will be on hand to discuss the play he’s written, The Way Back to Thursday.
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.