For three weeks straight, the Alumnae Theatre will be obsessing over freshness even more than your local grocery store. The New Ideas Festival is taking over for another year, bringing 15 new, developing, and experimental works to the stage. Each week of the festival, five new plays with a variety of themes will find themselves on the marquee, each one ranging from 10 to 60 minutes in length.
Going into a play with no prior knowledge of the characters, plot, setting, or theatrical style can be a very liberating exercise—most of the time. However, for 6 Essential Questions, on now at Factory Theatre, that approach is highly discouraged.
The play is the theatrical debut of author-turned-playwright Priscila Uppal, and has been adapted from her acclaimed memoir Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother, which recounts a trip to Brazil during which she briefly reunited with the mother who’d abandoned her 20 years before. The play follows the same basic storyline, but that becomes clear only about halfway through the 90-minute performance. Uppal’s approach to playwriting appears to be heavy on the poetry and metaphor, and light on context and basic exposition. That can be fine, as long as the audience has a basic understanding of the world being explored, which sadly isn’t the case here.
Toronto’s Hands & Teeth spent the better part of 2013 in the studio, recording a followup to 2012′s Hunting Season. Now that its fourth effort, Before the Light, is ready for the public’s ears, it’s celebrating with an album release show at the Dakota Tavern. Local favourites Amos the Transparent and Blonde Elvis will join in on the festivities with performances of their own.
On Wednesday, the Black Museum‘s lecture series returns with possibly its darkest and most intense subject yet: the horror genre known as New French Extremism. Dedicated to providing “lurid lectures for the morbidly curious,” the curators of the Black Museum are certainly not uncomfortable when it comes to confronting and dissecting the darker recesses of the human imagination, but this particular lecture, entitled “Quelle Horreur! The Films of the New French Extremity,” may be their most intense offering to date.
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).
If a period drama has ever inspired you to visit the past, but you couldn’t because you didn’t have access to a time machine, listen up! The Spadina Museum is taking history, television, and fashion fans alike back to the Edwardian era with its “Dressing for Downton: The Costumes of Downton Abbey” exhibit. Twenty pieces from the hit show will be on display, along with the City of Toronto’s own collection of garments from the time. Attendees will also be treated to Downton Abbey–themed tours of the century home.
You should not, would not miss this event if you’ve ever read Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or Green Eggs and Ham. Why? The Art of Dr. Seuss is coming to Casa Loma! Presented by Liss Gallery, the exhibit features over 30 paintings, drawings, and sculptures showcasing the mind of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Come during March Break (March 8-15) to take advantage of extra-Seussy programming, including storytelling, arts and crafts, and live performances.
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.
Artist Sarah Anne Johnson delves into life’s most intimate moments in “Wonderlust.” Using photography and visual arts, she explores the emotional attachment, romance, and self-consciousness that come with sex.
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.
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).
You can be taken out of a war, but can you truly remove the war from within you? This question is posed in Kawa Ada’s The Wanderers, a Buddies in Bad Times production about a father and son who flee a battle-worn Afghanistan. Though they start a new life in Canada, the horrors from their homeland refuse to be left behind.
The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (TOsketchfest) returns for its 9th year to promote the best of scripted live comedy, with a lineup of over 40 troupes from across North America. Not to be missed are the live reading of Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy, a headlining performance of Gavin Crawford’s Sh**ting Rainbows, or the Slings and Arrows panel with Mark McKinney, Susan Coyne, and Bob Martin.
In Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs, on now at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, two people—a man and a woman in their late twenties to mid-thirties—stand on an empty stage and talk. They talk at each other, mostly, about themselves and about more abstract thoughts, as time shifts in the script propel them from pivotal moment to pivotal moment. It’s a style of theatre that can go wrong in an instant—but it can also produce a work that invigorates, or even inspires, a passion for the art form.
Fortunately, this one does the latter.
Proving that 3-chord punk bands can actually amount to something, the award-winning American Idiot is coming to Toronto, having already captivated audiences in London and on Broadway. Featuring the music of Green Day, the story follows three best friends who must choose between following their dreams or staying in the safety of suburbia.
In line with Tarragon Theatre‘s theme for it 2013/2014 season– “Love, Loss, Wine and the Gods”—the company is currently presenting two one-act plays that document the journey of two very different romantic relationships. The first, in the Tarragon Extra Space, is Duncan MacMillan’s brilliant Lungs, which receives an equally brilliant production from director Weyni Mengesha and actors Lesley Faulkner and Brendan Gall. Lungs is a touching and entertaining portrayal of a couple in love—but above all, it’s honest. It’s that honesty that the show next door in the Tarragon Mainspace, Stephen Sondheim’s song cycle Marry Me a Little, is lacking.