For Holocaust Education Week, check out this screening of the documentary The Heart of Auschwitz, which tells the story of Auschwitz prisoners who helped a fellow prisoner, Fania, celebrate her 20th birthday with a heart-shaped book. (The film made its premiere at the 2011 Toronto Jewish Film Festival.) A Q&A session with Jacqueline Celemencki, an educator in residence at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, will follow the screening. Be sure to register in advance.
Lovers of all things theatre and art direction, you’re in for a special treat. In Conversation With Belarus Free Theatre is a chance to meet with the co-founders and artistic directors of Belarus Free Theatre (visiting Canada for the very first time). They’ll be participating in a moderated discussion, followed by a Q&A session. As the only independent theatre company in Belarus, BFT stands for freedom of speech and expression (performances are often raided by police). Click here to learn more about the renowned company.
ARTATTACK! is an annual auction to benefit Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Attendees can bid on artwork from up-and-coming artists, in both live and silent auctions. To spice things up, the night will be hosted by cabaret artist Shawn Hitchins, with appearances from Belle Jumelles, Johnny B Good, The Yes-Men, and many more.
Do you have a favourite Stephen King movie? Members of the Black Museum Debate Club certainly do. The Stephen King Movie Debate, moderated by Rue Morgue Podcast host Stuart Feedback Andrews, pits four teams of horror professionals against each other. Each team has prepared a compelling argument backed up by film clips and trivia. Participants will include the following: Tal Zimerman (writer, Rue Morgue Magazine), Steve Kostanski (director, Astron 6), Ghoulish Gary Pullin (artist), Monica S. Kuebler (Managing Editor, Rue Morgue), Less Lee Moore (Popshifter.com), Shaun Hatton (The Electric Playground), Alexandra West (writer and podcaster, Faculty of Horror), and J.M. McNab (Rewatchability podcast). Audience members are encouraged to bring their old Stephen King paperbacks and VHS tapes to trade with other fans.
If you’re looking for some sketch comedy to help you get to the end of the week, look no further than Mark & Kyle’s Thursday Plays, which promises new comedy shows (with plenty of music) every week for the month of November. Mark Little and Kyle Dooley are just coming off a pretty successful run at Just For Laughs and JFL42 (which we featured here), so you know it’ll be good.
Comedy isn’t always about being nice. For those who like their jokes raunchy and tasteless, there’s an annual event that specializes in all of that. The Dark Comedy Festival was started in 2011 by local comedian Rob Mailloux. This year, it will feature such notable purveyors of filth as Dave Attell and Gilbert Gottfried. But one of the biggest highlights will be a comedy roast of The Iron Sheik.
The Sheik, born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, was once a bodyguard for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s pre-revolution monarch. Vaziri used his experience in Olympic wrestling to become the notorious “heel” (or villain) to Hulk Hogan’s hero in the 1980s-era WWF. Nowadays, at the age of 73, the Sheik can often be found on Twitter telling you who’s “the real” or who’s a “jabroni” in between inspired bursts of profanity. Ahead of a tour of Canada that will also see him playfully skewered by comedians in Kingston, London, and Hamilton, we had the opportunity to chat with the man who commonly refers to himself as “Sheikie” and “the legend.”
He had some very mean things to say about Miley Cyrus, and some nice things to say about Twitter.
Another week, another edition of Laugh Sabbath. This week’s show, which is subtitled “Layin’ Down With Tim Gilbert!”, features a wide variety of stand-up guests including Mark DeBonis, Kathleen Phillips, and Marty Topps. The evening will be hosted by Tim Gilbert. Check out a preview of what you might be in for here.
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.”
“Telling: An Audio Survey of Parkdale,” curated by Phil Anderson and Tara Bursey, gathers site-specific audio clips that relate to spaces across Parkdale. The opening reception and panel discussion (where the public will get the chance to discuss the different works) are on November 7th and November 13th respectively (both at 7 p.m.).
Feeling nostalgic for your childhood? Alligator Pie brings the children’s poems of Dennis Lee (who also, you might recall, wrote the Fraggle Rock theme) to life on the stage. This Dora Award–winning production promises music, tons of imagination, and overall good fun for the whole family. Above, you can watch Lee recite the title poem at a previous edition of Word on the Street.
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 Misérables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After the 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.
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.
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.
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.
Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still tackles themes of journalistic morals and the downfalls of success, while exploring the intricacies of love and friendship. Injured in an explosion in the Middle East, photojournalist Sarah and her partner James return home, their relationship changed by her injuries.
Celebrating his 20 years as artistic director for Toronto Dance Theatre, Christopher House presents his newest piece, Eleven Accords, as part of Harbourfront’s NextSteps showcase. Featuring 12 dancers, the show was inspired by and created as a choreographic counterpoint to Music for 18 Musicians, by minimalist composer Steve Reich.
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.