As part of Black History Month, the Toronto Public Library presents a discussion with hip hop author and promoter Dalton Higgins. Canadian Hip Hop: From the Streets to the Suites will take a look at the progression of our country’s urban music scene and touch on the artists who paved the way for artists like Drake.
Do you like being the centre of attention? Are you brave enough to take a journey into the depths of your subconscious—in front of a live audience? If so, you’ll want to check out Brandon the Hypnotist’s HypnotiXXX—A Slightly Naughty Comedy Hypnosis Show. Willing volunteers will succumb to the power of suggestion and entertain their peers with hilarious and risqué hijinks. While dirtier than your typical hypnosis show, have no fear—no one will be ridiculed, demeaned, or goaded into revealing deep dark secrets.
Mustafa Ahmed has been meaning to assemble and record the best of his spoken word repertoire, but the 17-year-old artist, emcee, and actor has managed to garner widespread praise without releasing an album. Since he caught the media’s attention five years ago, he has performed at Roy Thompson Hall and TedX Toronto, and has shared the stage with artists as diverse as Nelly Furtado, Pharoahe Monch, and Margaret Atwood.
This evening, Ahmed debuts his self-titled EP in his local Regent Park, the neighbourhood that has shaped his life and his art. “It’s very humbling, because these are stories of my own,” he tells us in a phone interview. “I want people to know that this is where I started. Even the album cover has pictures of the buildings in Regent Park.”
The Toronto Centre for the Arts is stripping away the glossy layers of the music industry with their Bare Bones and Up Front Indie Music Series. Every Wednesday for eight weeks, two local musicians will be given the chance to show off their songs and skills in an intimate setting. Some of the featured acts include Rehan Dalal (March 12), Meredith Shaw (March 26), and Lindy (April 9).
What would happen if two characters from different books were to meet up outside their narratives? This is the basis of Brian Friel’s Afterplay, which explores the hypothetical relationship between two Anton Chekhov creations—Sonya from Uncle Vanya and Andrey from Three Sisters. For the price of admission, you’ll also get to indulge in authentic Russian tea during the performance, courtesy of the Campbell House.
While the Toronto International Film Festival may have shifted into a more relaxed mode, it’s still offering plenty of opportunities to gawk at movie stars—they’re just a little more spread out. Midweek, fans could catch the premieres of Good Kill (Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot), Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg’s new bit of oddness), The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II cryptographer Alan Turing), Jauja (Viggo Mortensen, and we don’t know much else really), Laggies (Sam Rockwell and Keira Knightley in a comedy about people taking their sweet time to grow up), October Gale (Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman in a thriller/drama set in a remote cabin), Pawn Sacrifice (about the chess duels between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer), The Cobbler (Adam Sandler’s latest) and Escobar (Benicio Del Toro is the famous drug kingpin).
It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the Nazis are on the brink of supremacy. But there remains another side to the city—one that’s decadent, permissive, and artistic. And that’s the world we meet when we’re beckoned into the extravagant and sleazy Kit Kat Klub by eccentric Emcee and his troupe of saucy dancers, performing “Willkommen.”
Cabaret’s primary plotline begins with the arrival of American writer Cliff Bradshaw (David Light). Without a real agenda, he’s come to Berlin to work on his novel and teach English. A patron of the Kit Kat Klub, he catches the eye of the star performer Sally Bowles (Kylie McMahon). A natural stunner, Sally is a bubbly young Brit with a powerhouse voice, a dancer’s grace, and a reputation for flitting from man to man like a bumblebee in a flowerbed. It’s not long before she and Cliff fall in love—though the question of whether he’ll be able to satisfy her wild side constantly hangs over their heads. The sweetness lacking in their relationship can be found in the romantic pairing of the boarding house landlord Fraulein Schneider (Adeen Ashton Fogle) and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Don Berns). As appealing as they are, though, these middle-aged lovebirds are just as susceptible to trouble and heartbreak as their younger counterparts.
Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup.
Those who work in the arts are well acquainted with the balancing act between creative work and life-sustaining day jobs. “Poetic Poverty; Experiments in Living” explores the notion of the starving artist, and why it’s a life so many choose to lead. This two-week show features works by Erin Loree, Stella Cade, Kevin Columbus, and more.
At 35 years old, the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre may be nearing middle age, but it’s still the place to go if you’re looking for experimental, boundary-breaking, not-your-theatre-next-door kind of stuff in Canada. Every February, Buddies in Bad Times warms up the Church Street neighbourhood with public works, cabarets, live performance art, and a robust lineup of emerging and established artists pushing their own limits and those of the political and cultural moment.
Festival director Laura Nanni is taking the opportunity to look at Rhubarb’s trajectory: this year’s lineup revolves around significant works of the past, and prophetic interpretations of the future. At the same time, with 34 successful years behind it, Nanni and the Rhubarb team have faced an unexpected challenge in getting the 2014 edition off the ground: a funding denial from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
We spoke to Laura Nanni to get her perspective this year’s festival, and the repercussions of the funding gap.
The word “idiot” was originally used in ancient Greece to describe a person unconcerned with public affairs like politics, but dedicated to following private pursuits. The setting of Robert E. Sherwood’s 1936 romantic comedy Idiot’s Delight, a failing luxury hotel in the Italian Alps called the Hotel Monte Gabriele, initially seems to be full of idiots: newlyweds on their honeymoon, a group of burlesque singers and their manager, a blissfully genial waiter, and a couple of ornery managers sour over the lack of business. And when a spark flies between a beautiful and mysterious Russian and a smooth-talking American showbusinessman, while the other guests dance, drink, eat, and sing, there’s another piece of juicy plot that can be used to distract themselves, and the audience, from the war that’s literally raging outside the hotel windows.
Bollywood is the force that brings two stories of self-exploration together in Same Same But Different. After her mother’s life is changed by a run-in with the world of Indian cinema, Aisha—a Canadian-born actress—realizes that she must face her prejudices about nationality and skin colour in order to rise to stardom.
The producers of Riverdance have spawned yet another on-stage extravaganza. With a talented cast of 38, Heartbeat of Home is a high-energy show, combining Irish, Latin, and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Torontonians get the honour of seeing the production’s North American debut—take it in before it’s gone!
Told through South American music and dance, Arrabal is the story of a young girl desperate to find out what happened to her father after the Argentine military made him disappear when she was just a baby. Her search leads her to the Tango clubs of Buenos Aires, where she discovers both the truth, and herself.
Even though Billy was born deaf, his family strived to raise him the same way they would have a hearing-able child. Tribes sees him learn what it is to hear and be heard when he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is gradually becoming deaf herself. Presented by A Theatrefront Production, Canadian Stage, and Theatre Aquarius, this emotional play stars Stephen Drabicki and Holly Lewis.
Sterling Studio Theatre calls issues of morality into question with its production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. When Kitty Warren’s daughter Vivie finds out just how her mother has been supporting their family, she must re-evaluate her views on sex, money, and power.
The image most commonly associated with Franz Kafka’s most famous work, the 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, is that of a giant insect trapped inside a bare, dirty room with a rotting apple lodged in his back—the bug was formerly a man named Gregor Samsa, and the room was formerly his bedroom. As we all know, this distressing and inexplicable transformation from man to bug happened in an instant, although its emotional and literary after-effects have been haunting English students ever since.
The stage adaptation of The Metamorphosis by the Icelandic company Vesturport Theatre and London’s Lyric Hammersmith, on now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre with Mirvish Productions, is much more watchable than this introduction would suggest. The only bug you’ll see in this version is a trick of light and shadow. And that’s not the only trick up this show’s sleeve (or perhaps antenna?).