Don’t let the malls fool you: the lighting of the Christmas tree at Nathan Phillips Square marks the official start of the holiday season. The 47th annual Cavalcade of Lights will feature performances from Diamond Rings, Tyler Shaw, Cold Specks, Divine Brown, and Carvin Winans—and a giant fireworks presentation. DJ Dopey will keep the festivities going late into the night with an ice skating party under the lights.
Witness the birth of new dance pieces at the Series 8:08 Choreographic Perfomance Workshop. This event allows emerging and professional choreographers to experiment with new ideas, give sneak peeks of works in progress, and show off newly completed pieces to the general public. Attendees will be welcome to share their opinions and ask questions during the post-performance meet and greet.
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.
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.
Virginia Woolf once remarked that “on or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art.
The films of Joel and Ethan Coen can be deliriously funny, wickedly macabre, and downright bizarre, often in the span of a single scene. Leading up to the release of their newest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis—a look at the folk scene in ’60s-era Greenwich Village, opening in Toronto on December 20—TIFF is offering audiences a chance to catch up on the duo’s uniformly excellent back catalogue. The ten-film retrospective is called Joel and Ethan Coen: Tall Tales.
Comedian Pat Thornton and his comedy pals are doubling down on the success of last year‘s 24 Hour Stand-Up Set, looking to raise over $48,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. As of a week out, they were already at 15 per cent of their goal, thanks to grassroots campaigning with T-shirts and a dare chain of videos reaching out to celebs like Ellen DeGeneres and Daniel Negreanu. During the 24 hours, that number will climb as the stream-of-consciousness collective joke machine spills out via social media and the webcast—but the best way to experience it is live, as your in-person donation gets you an unlimited in-and-out pass for the full marathon.
“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.).
Get into the spirit of the season with the help of Christmas in the Park at Colborne Lodge. The public is invited to tour the High Park founders’ home, which has been dressed up in festive Victorian decor. Era-appropriate foods and drinks will be provided to conjure the atmosphere of a 19th-century Christmas.
The old adage “appearances can be deceiving” rings true in Promise Productions’ new musical, Pieces of Me. Though Pamela and Parker seem to have a perfect marriage, trouble brews just below the surface. Parker works to solidify a happy future with his wife, not knowing that Pamela is restless, and harbouring a secret that could destroy everything. Written and directed by Deon Denton, the play stars the Shahi Teruko (Canada’s Got Talent), and recording artist Sheldon Neil.
The graduating class of Ryerson’s Theatre School is putting a new twist on a classic fairytale with its production of Cinderella. The show features all the familiar characters, but there are also some new faces in the mix.
Canadians aren’t just polite—we’re also dark and messed up when we want to be. The latter tendency is celebrated in the 2nd annual Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, a showcase of the best in contemporary horror from across our fine nation. Three days of screenings will see the world premieres of a number of films, including Elliot Dawson-Clark’s Criminal and Lari Teräs’ Blood Riders: The Devil Rides With Us. Be sure to stretch your legs between viewings and check out the vendor village, which will feature nifty treats from GloomMatter, Rotten Rags, Fangoria Magazine, and more.
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.
The world is a shockingly small place; just being in it will inevitably, repeatedly, and involuntarily bring you face to face with people you’d rather not meet more than once. In the case of Linda Griffiths’ new play Heaven Above Heaven Below, the wedding of a mutual friend reunites two nameless characters, He and She, twenty years after a short-lived fling resulted in She getting an abortion (which Griffiths detailed in her 1991 hit The Darling Family, to which this is the real-time sequel). The premise is enough to make anyone swear off large gatherings with undisclosed guest lists.
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.
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.
Tarragon Theatre presents ten days of innovative onstage creations as part of Play Reading Week. The showcase will debut new works from members of the 2013 Playwrights Unit, and many of the plays will go on to be developed further in Tarragon’s WorkSpace program and mounted as full productions in future seasons. A different burgeoning playwright will find him or herself in the spotlight each night. On the roster are Kate Cayley, Anna Chatterton, Jordi Mand, Amy Lee Lavoie, Maria Milisavljevic, Jessica Anderson, Adam Paolozza, Diane Flacks, Marilo Nuñez, and Gord Rand.
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.
The plot of Joan MacLeod’s The Valley, on now at Tarragon Theatre, is unfortunately all too familiar: an 18-year-old recent college drop-out experiences his first psychotic episode on Vancouver’s SkyTrain. The exhausted police officer called to the scene arrests him for causing a public disturbance, spurring debate over whether or not he used excessive force in the process. A Toronto audience only has to think of Sammy Yatim’s shooting this August to be reminded how common these situations are. A perceived threat to public safety coupled with the absence of a solid understanding of mental illness can—and often does—lead to violence.
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.
Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage is justifiably one of the most buzzworthy plays of the past decade, a status it attained partly as a result of an acclaimed production on Broadway starring James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels—and the 2011 Roman Polanski film adaptation. But besides star power and Reza’s intricate writing, its popularity can also be attributed to an easy marketing sell: two couples meet to discuss a physical altercation between their two 11-year-old sons. Simply imagining the sparks to ensue practically causes ticket money to fly out of your hands.
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.