Luminato 2013: Performing Arts Preview
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Luminato 2013: Performing Arts Preview

Luminato 2013's performing-arts offerings include international stars and local talent.

The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic  Photo courtesy of Luminato

The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. Photo courtesy of Luminato.

For its 2013 edition, the Luminato Festival has brought in several world-renowned artists and companies to present tentpole performing-arts events, each with some associated programming. It’s a bit of a shift from previous years, when there were more stand-alone events, but we think it’s a clever way of hooking more attendees into seeing additional shows and presentations. There also seem to be more Canadian artists taking part in events on stage, particularly in a nightly series of cabaret shows at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

The most noted (and buzzed about) of the big-ticket theatre events is The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. The most prominent performance artist of her generation, Abramovic plays herself (and her mother) in a show directed by Robert Wilson, co-starring Willem Dafoe, and featuring music from Antony Hegarty (Antony & The Johnsons). There’s also a tent complex being erected in Trinity Bellwoods Park, where the “Marina Abramovic Method” will be used in a series of encounters.

Canadian puppeteer legend Ronnie Burkett has collaborated with 10 leading Canadian playwrights for the nightly marionette cabaret The Daisy Theatre. During Luminato, in addition to short new playlets by writers such as Brand Fraser, Anusree Roy, and Chris Craddock, the marionettes will perform nightly comedy and music. A more traditional musical cabaret, The Courtyard Revue, will play late night at the Berkeley Street Theatre, where it will be hosted by Broken Social Scene’s Jason Collett.

Celebrated Canadian filmmaker and director Atom Egoyan returns to Luminato at the helm of a Chinese-language opera, Feng Yi Ting, about one of four legendarily beautiful women who appear in stories dating back nearly 2,000 years. The opera is sung in Mandarin, with English surtitles (yes, “surtitles” is a word).

The Mark Morris Dance Company brings its signature dance show, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, to the Sony Centre. Now in its 25th year, the piece mashes up historical figures like Handel, William Blake, and John Milton. While here for Luminato, the company is also working on the L’Allegro Movement Project, which pairs school children with dancers suffering from Parkinson’s.

While the majority of programming at the Luminato Hub, in David Pecaut Square, is music-based (we have a whole Luminato music preview here), there will be some talks and events with creators on stage. Rufus Wainwright and Canadian Opera Director Alexander Neef will talk Verdi and Wagner on the evening of June 17, and local playwright Kat Sandler of Theatre Brouhaha chats with the European art collective Gob Squad at noon on June 18. But the highest-profile reading event is the Literary Picnic, taking place in Trinty Bellwoods Park on the afternoon of June 22.

Lastly, magic is on display at the festival, courtesy of “society performer” Steve Cohen, lute player and illusionist Rafael Benatar, and Miguel Puga and Miguel Aparicio’s Concerto for Piano & Pasteboards.