Trespassing becomes a non-issue this weekend as over 150 buildings across the city welcome in the general public for Doors Open Toronto. This year’s theme is Secrets and Spirits: Exploring the Mysteries Behind the Door, as an overwhelming number of locations boast hidden rooms and passages, as well as stories of a mysterious and ghostly nature. Check out the list of participating museums, historical sites, and corporations, peruse our guide to nine sites that will be part of the event for the first time this year—and start planning your route!
An allergy sufferer’s nightmare is a dog lover’s delight this weekend as Woofstock takes over Woodbine Park. This two-day festival will see a variety of canines participating in races, trick contests, fashion shows, and more, while vendors show off their nifty dog-dedicated products.
Get the kids some fresh air, visit an interesting part of the city, and do something good for the environment all in one go during the Save Our Savannah family nature walk. Participants will be led to the endangered black oak savannah, where they’ll search for its animal inhabitants and disperse handmade seed balls to help restore the area’s native wildflower population.
Have you ever had a truly life-changing encounter with someone? The characters in The Last Seven Steps of Bartholomew S. have, and they want to share their stories about the mysterious titular stranger with you during an immersive theatre production at the Bata Shoe Museum. Move through the galleries of the museum, find clues, and hear stories about the impact that Bartholomew S. has made through his world travels, before deciding for yourself whether he is a real man or merely a legend.
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.
“The greatest art always returns you to the vulnerabilities of the human situation.” – Francis Bacon
“In the human figure one can express more completely one’s feelings about the world than in any other way.” – Henry Moore
These quotations, which welcome visitors to “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” immediately establish the exhibition’s tone and focus. Each artist’s distortions of the human figure, shaped by their wartime experiences, capture the vulnerability of our mortal forms.
Now in its 24th year, the Inside Out festival offers an eclectic mix of LGBT-themed films from Canada and around the world. Setting up shop at venues ranging from the TIFF Bell Lightbox to Videofag, the festival mixes screenings, panel discussions, and receptions for equal parts edification and entertainment—all in the name of “challenging attitudes and changing lives.”
If you’re in the mood for a murder mystery with a religious twist, you’ll want to check out The Last Confession. David Suchet (Poirot) and Richard O’Callaghan star in this play about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. After only 33 days in office, and having warned three cardinals that they would be replaced, he is found dead. Though the Vatican refuses to open an official investigation, Cardinal Benelli goes out in search of the truth.
Outside the March seems to be Toronto’s favourite indie theatre company. Director Mitchell Cushman built up quite a buzz after consecutive hits Mr. Marmalade and Terminus, both of which were praised for their unconventional use of space (the former was set in a kindergarten classroom, the latter placed both the actors and the audience on the stage of the Royal Alexandra Theatre), so his next project had been highly anticipated. Vitals, written by Rosamund Small, was the first script for Outside the March developed specifically for a site-specific space, and its original run had to be extended even before opening night. Then, only a few days into the run, it was extended again to June 1. And though Vitals isn’t the best show in Outside the March’s history, there’s a reason that tickets have been flying.
As the world premiere of a stage adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s famous novel, Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Of Human Bondage is the jewel of the company’s 2014 season. Not that it’s a perfect play—but it does flex the strength of Soulpepper’s acting ensemble, design team, and, well, budget. The arresting opening scene sees the play’s main character, Philip Carey, well-played by Gregory Prest, enter by rising through a trapdoor centre stage while other members of the cast appear to dissect a cadaver (they’re actually crossing bows across a double bass, which is lying horizontally on an operating table). A spotlight casts Philip’s shadow against a red-brick wall, so that the bows appear to saw through his stiff, upright body. Setting the tone for the rest of the production, the scene is striking, but not incredibly subtle.
We’re nearing the end of Tarragon Theatre‘s 2013/2014 season, and it appears we’ve also arrived at the final stage of its theme: love, loss, wine, and the gods. But that doesn’t mean the Tarragon, which has seen some major hits this year in Lungs, The Double, and The Ugly One, is phoning it in. Sean Dixon’s ambitious new script, A God in Need of Help, has produced not only one of the longer plays in the Tarragon season, but also easily the most dense and layered, mixing as it does historical fact and fiction with timeless issues of art, religion, and politics. Fortunately, that makes it the strongest mainstage show of the season thus far (we’ll see how Tarragon’s final show, The God That Comes, co-created by and featuring Hawksley Workman, performs in June).
If we’ve learned anything from slasher flicks, it’s that having sex leads to death. Returning to the stage to mark its 25th anniversary, Brad Fraser’s Love and Human Remains pursues this dark train of thought. Set in Edmonton, the play tells the story of a bunch of sexually frustrated and dysfunctional twenty- and thirty-somethings grappling with life and love, while a killer lurks in their midst.