Luminato(ist) 2008
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Luminato(ist) 2008

Luminato is upon us, fair citizens. If you’re wondering what to do, what to see, or what’s Luminato?, Torontoist is here to play festival guide. We’ve randomly drawn carefully chosen ten must-not-miss events: one for each day of the city’s massive annual “arts and creativity” smorgasbord, which runs from June 6–15. Our staff’s picks are after the jump.


Photo by funinthegym from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Complaints abound about the corporate brothel that is the Luminato “mainstage,” but those complaints tend to come from Kensington-dwelling OCAD dropouts whose found-art works couldn’t sell for the price of a blow job at Queen and Lansdowne. And while we agree that sponsorship can have a dumbing-down effect on the artistic festivities, we also really like some of this year’s sponsors. In particular: FASHION Magazine. Mostly, we think, because we can picture their python-pumped marketing team sipping tall skinny lattes and being all, “Art meets FASHION! It’s so Spring-slash-Summer 2008! YSL paint splatters, anyone?” And so, FASHION‘s premiere urban art installation will take place in (rather fittingly) Toronto Life Square this Saturday. Participants in Flash Mob 08 are to wear their brightest whites (anything except, for the love of God, those only-OK-on-Ye shutter-shades) and bring their hip to the square at 11 a.m. (just look for the white balloons).
Inspired by Frozen Grand Central, the event involves striking a vogue for five minutes, creating a “fascinating spectacle” for the hordes of flash-happy tourists—not to mention, for FASHION‘s own photographers, who will be turning this into some kind of editorial spread. Group performance art or sorority hazing ritual? Either way: kind of awesome. Oh, did we mention there will be models? Twenty of them, courtesy of Elite. You’re welcome.
Flash Mob 08 takes place on June 7 at 11 a.m. at Dundas Square/Toronto Life Square (Yonge and Dundas).

The Queen Street Celebration

On the brighter side of the city, the Queen Street Celebration resurrects the legendary Queen Street music scene of the late ’70s to mid ’80s that turned Queen Street from a collection of junk shops and cheap diners into a cultural mecca. Young musicians and artists unleashed their anti-establishment politics and non-conformist creative spirit to bring forward-thinking fusions of punk, new wave, and world-beat to venues like The Crash and Burn, Beverly Tavern, and Cameron House. Five hours of performances on McCaul Street recap the era with Toronto musical icons Johnny & The G-Rays, The ‘B’ Girls, a rare appearance by Mary Margaret O’Hara, and the Parachute Club (with guests). Meanwhile, memorabilia, photographs, and vintage poster art will be on display in the OCAD Great Hall. And the OCAD auditorium will host a video exhibition of vintage performances of Queen Street groups in their prime and documentary retrospectives of the scene, followed by a panel discussion and cabaret.
The celebration goes down on June 7 between noon and 10 p.m., with outdoor concerts from 1:30–6 p.m. All events are free.

The Political Graphic Novel

Left photo courtesy of Luminato; right photo of Dan Goldman courtesy of Smith Magazine.
Europe, South America, and the Middle East get some ink from these artists. The Political Graphic Novel brings together Toronto-based author Bernice Eisenstein, underground graphic veteran Spain Rodriguez, Geurilla News Network editor Anthony Lappé, and ACT-I-VATE co-founder Dan Goldman.
Eisenstein’s Canadian Jewish Book Award winner, I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, explores the effects of the Holocaust on the author’s parents, who met in Auschwitz, as well as her childhood in Toronto.
“There’s an immediacy of an image,” she said in an interview with Torontoist. “Images resonate, they’ve got something strong. There’s a certain kind of power. It’s very visceral.”
To Eisenstein, the purpose of the graphic format is to use “the fusion of words and pictures…to explore the layers of meaning.”
Written by Lappé and illustrated by Goldman, Eisner-nominated Shooting War goes after the Iraq War and takes online journalism along for the ride in the fictional story of a young blogger, set in 2011 (Dan Rather even makes an appearance).
Che: A Graphic Biography is, well, exactly that. Rodriguez traces the Argentinean from his now-famous motorcycle trip to his death during the failed Bolivian revolution.
The Beguiling’s Peter Birkemoe hosts the discussion, Sunday, June 8, at the Al Green Theatre in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (750 Spadina Avenue). Admission is $10.

Nitin Sawhney: Composing for Video Games

Celebrated composer Nitin Sawhney has only produced one video game soundtrack that we can name so far—Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword—and it was a three-hour-long orchestral score performed with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. So colour us intrigued that he’s holding a workshop on his approach to…scoring video games! dorkArmy will also be on hand with systems set up, allowing attendees to try the title out. Might be awesome, even if the $20 admission seems a little steep.
Nitin Sawhney’s workshop takes place Wednesday, June 11, 7:30 p.m. at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West).

The Dark City

Left photo by Harald Benz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool; right, vintage flyer for the OCA 3D show, courtesy of Luminato.
Dark buildings casting ominous shadows over dangerous streets. Hard-boiled men and femmes fatale caught up in nightmarish urban landscapes of crime, sex and violence. Tales told with gritty, unsentimental realism. These elements of noir fiction have long been a staple of American dime-store crime novels. But the noirish urban underbelly has been less explored in Can-Lit. Earlier this year, The Walrus commissioned noir sketches from Canadian authors, and will be gathering some of these authors—Austin Clarke, Heather O’Neill, and Greg Hollingshead—for an evening of readings. Nicholas Campbell hosts and Molly Johnson provides the jazzy soundtrack.
Visit The Dark City on Thursday, June 12, 7 p.m. at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre (165 Front Street East). Tickets are $125 for Walrus subscribers, $150 for non-subscribers.

The Bad Plus

They’re a piano jazz trio, but they cover Queen, Blondie, Aphex Twin, and Nirvana. They count Stravinsky and Ornette Coleman among their influences. They’re even providing the music for the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Luminato appearance in Toronto this year. But does all this make The Bad Plus twee, unapproachable, or (gasp) dull? Hardly.
Listen to their take on Black Sabbath’s “Ironman” on their MySpace, then decide for yourself. You’ll never hear jazz the same way again.
The Bad Plus perform at Glenn Gould Studio (250 Front Street West) on June 13 at 8 p.m. For more information, go to



War and politics might be timely, but they’re not always interesting dramatic fare. The artists of the Soulpepper Conservatory aim to turn that assumption upside down with their presentation of Blink, a collective creation that uses the real-life accounts of photojournalists as a jumping-off point for ideas about documentation and identity. Inspired by the likes of Rita Leistner and Kevin Carter, the piece promises to provide some grit under the teeth of lighter Luminato fare.
Blink runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts from June 6–15.

Light On Your Feet

Photo by TorontoGal from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Whether you’re a dance-floor legend because your moves are sick, or because they’re uncannily Elaine Benes-like, Light On Your Feet is your chance to show off those moves in public. Starting this Friday evening, for six nights in a row Yonge-Dundas Square will morph into a workshop-slash-party for various styles of dance and music, from salsa to Bollywood. The opening night, featuring 14-year-old Montreal jazz prodigy Nikki Yanofsky and the legendary Count Basie Orchestra, looks like a good shot at replicating the late-’90s swing-dancing Gap commercials (please don’t show up in khakis and polos). And if two-stepping isn’t your thing, stop by anyway to check out the free live music—another big name, Ashley MacIsaac, will perform Saturday after a Scottish square dancing lesson.
All Light On Your Feet events are free of charge. A one-hour lesson starting at 7:00 p.m. (except on Friday, June 6, which begins at 6:30 p.m.) will be followed by a live band from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in Yonge-Dundas Square.

Black Watch

Photo courtesy of Luminato.
Based on interviews with former soldiers who served with the legendary Scottish regiment, Black Watch follows a group of soldiers on tour in Iraq during 2004 and features “strong language, loud explosions, and strobe lights.” We’ve been waiting for the award-winning play to come to town since we first heard of it, and we’re hard-pressed to choose which bit of glowing international acclaim to back up our statement that this is one of the most exciting parts of Luminato (and possibly one of the most exciting things to happen in theatre in Toronto this year). “The world must see this play. Immediately,” said the Glasgow Herald. f you need a source closer to home, the New York Times called it a “richly human work of art” when it played a sold-out run in Brooklyn.
Black Watch plays Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 15 at the Varsity Arena (275 Bloor Street West).

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Tim Supple’s bold new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of the most exciting theatre events at Luminato (wait, did we already say that about Black Watch? Still true.), and has already
garnered a considerable amount of press. The piece, which was developed for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-Upon-Avon (where it has played for the past two seasons), promises to be the most innovative take on the classic play since Peter Brook‘s famed 1971 production (also for the RSC). With a cast comprised entirely of actors from India, Supple’s production uses a new text which retains some of Shakespeare’s English, but intersperses it with dialogue in Malayalam, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Marathi, Sinhalese, and Tamil. If you’re tired of seeing the same old Dream, this multicultural adaptation promises to apply to your eye, gentle lover, remedy.
Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream cost from $50–70. Performed at the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria Street), tickets for the show—which runs the length of the festival—can be purchased online.