Taking place in five Canadian cities for the second time, The Spur Festival brings together thinkers, innovators, and academic and creative types for a series of lectures, meetings, and performances on “nationally relevant and locally nuanced” ideas. Here in Toronto from April 3 to April 6, the festival will include noted lawyer Michael Geist on free speech, an urban planning panel moderated by Shawn Micallef, talks by author Cecil Foster and photojournalists Rita Leistner and Mike Kamber, and much more. Many of the events, including the opening and closing parties, are free; a few have ticket prices ranging from $10 to $30. For full details, visit the festival’s website.
“I think of them as chamber films,” Matías Piñeiro says of the four intimate and beautifully crafted films that make up an intensive TIFF Cinematheque program called Divertimentos: The Films of Matías Piñeiro, running from April 3 to April 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Speaking to us over the phone ahead of the retrospective, which spans his still early but already accomplished career, the 32-year-old Argentine filmmaker seemed pleased with the title that programmer Brad Deane selected, which suggests something musical and modest—a host of informal ensemble pieces.
To distract from Toronto’s management headaches, we suggest spending an evening straining your brain over another country’s politics. Gather your TV-obsessed friends, and head out to West Wing Trivia Night. Prepare for at least two rounds of questions, focusing mostly on seasons one through four of the series.
Let’s be honest: you can’t call yourself a true film buff unless you’ve seen the classics—by which we mean those that came before the “talkies.” If you need a quick catch-up course, you’re in luck—the Toronto Silent Film Festival is taking over various theatres across the city for six straight days. One film will be showcased per day, and paired with live and improvised music. Even if you’re familiar with The Wind (1928), City Girl (1930), The Circus (1928), Seven Years Bad Luck (1921), The Last Command (1928), or every Charlie Chaplin film, you’ve never seen them quite like this!
Improv comedy duo The Sufferettes haven’t been able to perform together in Toronto for a while now. Oh, they’ve been touring overseas plenty, but Becky Johnson and Kayla Lorette have been individually busy when both have been home. So when a late-night slot recently opened up at Comedy Bar, the two jumped at it. There are no special guests planned, nor is there any special theme—just two very talented comediennes doing their thing for a hometown crowd.
If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace.
Playwright Bobby Del Rio was inspired to write The Trial of Ken Gass, a Kafkaesque look at a man’s encounter with an officious bureaucrat, by the ousting of Factory Theatre’s artistic director by its board of directors (who earned themselves a place in our Villains roster in 2012). The play is less interested in the scandal’s details, however, and more in the different ways people react when confronted by an unreasonable person who’s the gatekeeper for an uncaring system. To drive the point home, as in the original production, Del Rio has cast a different performer every night to play the title character, who’s put through the wringer by a mercurial investigator played by Jess Salguiero. Among the guest “Gasses” are playwright Matthew Edison, comedian Sandra Battaglini, and cabaret performer Ryan G. Hinds.
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.
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.
Now in its fourteenth year, the ReelWorld Film Festival has expanded its reach. For five days in Toronto, followed by three in Markham, it’s bringing over 79 films to the screen. Diversity is the name of the game with features, shorts, webisodes, and music videos from twenty different countries on the bill.
Great theatre comes and goes, and you either see it while it’s playing, or wait for a remount. The On Stage On Demand series is looking to change that by capturing past hit indie plays on film—and they’re opening up the performances for free to a live audience. The shows being performed and taped include past hits like Of Mice and Morro and Jasp (which is already fully reserved), Antoine Feval, and Supperfesta. Admission is free, but you’ll want to reserve your tickets before the shows hit capacity.
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.
Circlesnake Productions closed out the Storefront Theatre’s 2013 season with their production of the TTC crime comedy Special Constables. Now, they’re the first full production in the space since February’s flooding, and space is where their new show is set—it’s a science-fiction adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Dark Matter follows Captain Marlow as she travels to a remote space colony to confront Commander Kurtz, who’s “gone rogue.” As per their previous show, expect a show that translates film’s big-budget effects into highly physical staging for the small stage.
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.
Sparrowhawk Theatre knows that times are tough, which is why it’s presenting two one-act plays for the price of one! Directed by Steven Holmberg, Norm Foster’s My Narrator and The Death of Me promise to be honest, unique, and un-pretentious theatre experiences for both audience and cast. Prepare to get up close and personal with stars Penelope Corrin, Roger Doche, Laura Jabalee, Jorge Molina, and Chris O’Sullivan at this intimate venue.