In today's Urban Planner: the imagineNATIVE festival kicks off, A Story Before Time brings a First Nationals creation myth to the stage, and a free swing concert.
- Film: Now in its 14th year, the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival returns with a full slate of feature films, shorts, video essays, and live performances designed to showcase the range of Indigenous media arts from around the globe—with a particular emphasis, this year, on artists from the Maori nation in New Zealand. Multiple venues, all day, $7–$25. Details
- Dance: Kaha:wi Dance Theatre brings a unique First Nations creation story to the stage with A Story Before Time. The Onkwehonwe narrative—which embodies the beliefs, symbols, and dreams of its people—is conveyed through dance, theatre, and a blend of traditional and contemporary music. It incorporates both Mohawk and Cayuga languages. Young People’s Theatre Studio Space (165 Front Street East), 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., $15-$24 + HST & service charges. Details
- Theatre: The Steady State Theatre Project presents Script Scrap, five nights of exciting new theatrical works. Each night a different piece will be featured, each one written by a playwright involved in one of the Steady State’s three development programs. LemonTree Creations (196 Spadina Avenue), 6:30 p.m., PWYC. Details
- Photography: Chances are, among your folders full of selfies, you also have a plethora of photos featuring family and friends (and possibly also food). But why? Join Jill Glessing for Love, Curiosity, Control: Why we Photograph Others, an introspective look at our fascination with the captured image. Theories and approaches to the art of photographing others will be discussed in relation to the works of Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Thomas Struth, Nan Goldin, and James Nachtwey. Bloor/Gladstone Branch, Toronto Public Library (1101 Bloor Street West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Celebrating its sixth year, the De Colores Festival of New Works returns to Toronto for three nights of theatre. Presented by the Alameda Theatre Company, the festival will showcase four new productions by Latin-Canadian playwrights: Paradise Red by Bruce Gibbons, Solaz by Jefferson Guzman, Have You Lost Something? by Flavia Hevia, and Marine Life by Rosa Laborde. Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street), 8 p.m., $15, students/seniors $13, festival pass $40. Details
- Music: With all this talk of twerking, wouldn’t it be refreshing to return to a time when you could go out dancing and have fun while still feeling somewhat proper? Enter the Uptown Swing Band! A 10-piece ensemble with both male and female vocalists, they know how to get feet moving with an upbeat and authentic set list that touches on favourites from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Go on, trade your short-shorts for saddle shoes and check them out. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 9 p.m., FREE. Details
History: The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions. Multiple venues, all day, $25–$175. Details
- Art: “Face to Place,” a photo exhibition at St. Lawrence Market’s Market Gallery, is a raw and nostalgic attempt at capturing urban life in a city that’s constantly changing. The Market Gallery (95 Front St. East), all day, FREE. Details
- Art: When it was originally unveiled at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (England, not Ontario), the “David Bowie Is” exhibition shattered attendance records, selling over 42,000 advance tickets. Now that the show has come to Toronto, it’s easy to see why it was so successful. Composed of over 300 objects from David Bowie’s personal archive, spanning his entire career, the exhibit is arranged and presented as a completely immersive experience, enveloping visitors in a kaleidoscopic visual and aural landscape that would be overwhelming if it weren’t so brilliantly arranged and intelligently guided. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $30 (includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: Like the company’s recent triumph, Angels in America, Soulpepper’s newest show, The Norman Conquests, requires multiple trips to the theatre—or a hearty constitution for a full day of marathon attendance. Unlike Angels in America, the three instalments of The Norman Conquests—Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden—are comic in nature and small in scope, with each instalment taking place in a different part of a couple’s house. Written by prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, the three-part series features veteran members of the Soulpepper ensemble, and can be “enjoyed individually or in any combination.” Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), all day, $51–$68. Details
Art: Ai Weiwei is a 56-year-old artist confined to his home in Beijing for creating work critical of the Chinese government and Chinese culture. There are video cameras outside his house, his phone lines are tapped, his blog was deleted, his Shanghai studio was destroyed in 2010 by authorities, and his passport was confiscated in 2011. To this day, he’s unable to leave his country. Even so, Ai Weiwei has had a large presence in Toronto over the past few months.
This past June, he did a performance piece with artist Laurie Anderson during the Luminato Festival, using Skype. His Zodiac Heads have been installed, temporarily, in the reflecting pool in front of City Hall. At this year’s Nuit Blanche, a large-scale version of his sculpture of bicycles, Forever, will take over Nathan Phillips Square. And beginning August 17, the Art Gallery of Ontario is displaying “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”, a retrospective of the work he produced before and after the Chinese government’s crackdown on his activities helped him find new international acclaim. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), 10 a.m., $25 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: Fans of the seminal 1968 horror-film classic, Night of the Living Dead, will delight in Night of the Living Dead Live, a new theatrical production of the story. Despite a weak second act, it’s a fun black-and-white romp with some inventive deaths—and even a chipper musical number. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue), 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., $20–$80. Details
- Theatre: Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
- Theatre: Crash, the one-woman show by Pamela Sinha, returns to Theatre Passe Muraille to open the fall 2013 season. The unsettling and deeply personal performance was a surprise winner in the New Play category at the 2012 Doras (over the phenomenally popular Kim’s Convenience, which is now being produced for television). Those who’d seen this intense autobiographical tale about the fallout from a brutal sexual assault were perhaps not so surprised. , 7:30 p.m., PWYC–$27.50. Details
- Comedy: You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding. Second City (51 Mercer Street), 8 p.m., $24–$29. Details
- Theatre: The great vaudevillian performer and comedian W.C. Fields is believed to have coined the infamous showbiz axiom, “Never work with animals or children.” Others in the entertainment industry have adopted the rule, because of the unpredictability of toddlers and beasts on stage. But in his recent play The Best Brothers, Daniel MacIvor embraces both of these snubbed theatrical minorities—even if the dog only appears for a brief moment and the two adult characters only act like feuding minors. And surprisingly, there’s little unpredictability in it. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $21–$53. Details
- Theatre: In Theatre Rusticle’s Dinner at Seven-Thirty, six lifelong friends gather at a reunion dinner in the twilight of their lives to reflect on their shared experiences. Based on Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, the stage production combines text, movement, and visual imagery to illustrate each character’s memories. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 8 p.m., $18–$31. Details
- Music: Sunparlour Players, a Torontonian folk-rock institution, is taking over the Dakota Tavern every Wednesday in October and November to debut some new songs and bring new life to the older ones. To keep things fresh, they’ll be joined onstage by a different guest act every week. Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Avenue), 9 p.m., $10. Details
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.