A Toronto Writer Preaches a Wordier Future for Video Games
Toronto writer Christine Love never expected to find success making video games—particularly text-heavy visual novels about women, queerness, and technology. But she surprised everyone, including herself, when her games—Digital: A Love Story; don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story; Analogue: A Hate Story, and its expansion, Hate Plus—found an audience eager for storytelling experiences radically different from those in the latest editions of Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, or Grand Theft Auto.
Love will share some of her insights into writing and game creation at WordPlay, a free one-day festival celebrating games and interactive experiences that put text and narrative front and centre, held in partnership with The Hand Eye Society. There, she’ll lead a workshop for beginners on the art of creating interactive fiction with Twine, which lets authors weave interactive stories using a simple user interface, and then render their creations as websites that anyone can browse and play.
Matt Braunger Live at Comedy Bar
Matt Braunger is a comic on the rise, and, lucky for us, he’s coming to Toronto for a one-night, two-show gig. Known for his 2012 Comedy Central special Shovel Fighter and his appearances on TV shows like MADtv and Chelsea Lately, Braunger will be headlining at Comedy Bar. On the bill with him are a number of local acts, including Luke Gordon Field (8 p.m.), Rhiannon Archer (10:30 p.m.), and Torontoist‘s own Kai Benson (8 p.m.).
Grand Analog at Wrongbar
The local hip-hop collective Grand Analog will be putting on a night of hip-hop, soul, and Afrobeat. The team will be supporting its latest effort, Modern Thunder, which is another collection of the genre-mixing grooves it’s become known for. Check out the video for the track “Howl Likes Wolves” above.
This post originally said, incorrectly, that Grand Analog is from Germany. In fact, the collective is Toronto based.
The Royal Ontario Museum Takes a Modern Approach to the Cradle of Civilization
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.
Evil Dead The Musical Returns to Toronto
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.
TIFF’s First Major Original Exhibition Traces David Cronenberg’s Evolution
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.
The Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival Casts Mental Health Issues in a New Light
Since its inception in 1993, the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival has delivered on its complex mandate: presenting cultural representations of mental illness and addiction and then contextualizing them through post-screening discussions. This year’s lineup might be the festival’s most stacked yet, with screenings on a range of issues and in a variety of genres.
The Regent Park Film Festival Takes the Local Approach
The Regent Park Film Festival occupies an interesting niche in Toronto’s mini-festival circuit, as much because of its grounding in a particular neighborhood—Canada’s largest and oldest public housing project—as for its commitment to offering its programming free of charge. This year’s slate is a mix of community filmmaking, documentaries about a range of issues relevant to Regent Park residents, and mainstream features like Ryan Coogler’s award-winning Fruitvale Station, based on the true story of Oscar Grant’s death at the hands of an Oakland police officer.
The Norman Conquests
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
“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.).
Growing Up (Slowly) in Moss Park
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.
Virginia Woolf Comes to Campbell House in A Room of One’s Own
Campbell House Museum is artfully decorated for A Room Of One’s Own‘s nightly pre-show reception. Always elegant, the various rooms have cozy fires going, and books and letters are arranged for audience perusal. (We later heard many of these materials were sourced specifically for the show by star and producer Naomi Wright, who exhaustively researched her role as Virigina Woolf.)
Go Hear the People Sing in Les Misérables
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.
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.
The Alumnae Theatre Company presents its inaugural FireWorks theatre showcase. Akin to the New Ideas Festival, this series features plays created in-house by local artists. Three pieces will be staged during the three-week run: Theory by Norman Yeung, Gloria’s Guy by Joan Burrows, and Measure of the World by Shirley Barrie. For those who want more than just stage productions, there will also be several roundtable discussions and playwright talks to attend.
The Unit 102 Actors Company brings Shakespeare’s tale of power and corruption to life with its production of Julius Caesar. Taking place in 44 B.C., the play follows the events surrounding Caesar’s assassination. First performed as early as 1599, many of the story’s central issues are still relevant today.
Director Chris Abraham Talks Winners and Losers
Winners and Losers is a play by Marcus Youssef and James Long based on a game of the same name the two theatre artists sometimes play. They pick a person, place, or thing, and debate whether it’s a “winner” or a “loser.” But it probably wouldn’t be fair to pick their director (and Crow’s Theatre artistic director) Chris Abraham as a topic, particularly since he was recently declared the winner of the Siminovitch Prize, Canadian theatre’s most prestigious (not to mention lucrative) honour.
Heaving Bosoms and Sharp Class Critique in After Miss Julie
Toronto theatre audiences have seen a number of adaptations of Strindberg’s Miss Julie in the past few years. The original now seems dated, but Miss Julie: She’Mah, a Canadian-targeted adaptation by playwright Tara Beagan, ratcheted up the tension by giving Miss Julie residential-school-educated servants. Canadian Stage’s somewhat less effective Miss Julie: Freedom Summer used American race politics. But British playwright Patrick Marber’s 2003 adaptation, After Miss Julie, zeroes in on sexual politics and baseline class separations, all against the backdrop of a British country home at the close of World War II. Red One Theatre’s Canadian premiere plays up the danger and slow-burning tension expertly, with three experienced cast members: Claire Armstrong in the title role, and Christopher Morris and Amy Keating as Julie’s father’s servants.
Second City’s New Show Is a Heroic Effort
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.