Can you believe it's already time for Nuit Blanche?
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Monday, September 26
Theatre creator and PhD candidate Martin Julien’s Player to Player series asks actors about iconic stage roles they’ve played, such as Hamlet. This edition, Player to Player: King Lear, will feature Julien interviewing veteran actors David Fox, William Webster, and Susanna Hamnett about how they each tackled the tragic king that’s considered to be Shakespeare’s most demanding role. Robert Gill Theatre (214 College Street), 7:30 p.m., FREE.
Fuck the Internet. No, really, storytelling series The Spoke, tell us how you feel about online interaction? Despite the provocative title, we suspect storyteller/performers Barbara Johnston, James Smith, Eric Andrews, Aaron Brown, and Joelle McNeil will have some nuance to their tales of technological woe. The event is PWYC (and Bitcoin will be accepted). The Burdock (1184 Bloor street West), 8 p.m., PWYC.
Tuesday, September 27
We first met Calgary-based performer Julie Orton years ago when she was in town to appear in a secret salon presented by Rebecca Northan, whose show Blind Date, featuring a clown who selects her night’s date from the audience, was then the talk of Toronto (and off-Broadway). Now, Orton is back in Toronto, starring in the first lesbian version of Blind Date at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre; we were lucky enough to see her September 22 opening night date with a surprised theatre manager, which was every bit as charming and uplifting an experience as Northan’s original creation. Tonight, David Benjamin Tomlinson takes over the same-sex/genderqueer/transgender experience for the week; next week, he and Orton will alternate nights for Blind Date‘s closing week. To October 9, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 8 p.m., $20–$39.
The National Theatre of the World (a.k.a. Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus) hasn’t performed live in Toronto much as of late; they’ve been busy on TV sets or performing around the world. But the pair have decided to dip their toes back in Toronto waters with a new and intimate revue, Still Figuring It Out, at the place the married comedians first met (Second City Toronto). September 27–30, John Candy Box Studio Theatre (99 Blue Jays Way, 3rd floor), 9 p.m., $10–$15.
Wednesday, September 28
Endless City’s FORMS Festival is an eclectic mix of city planning forums, with urbanists, architects, international designers, and electronic music concert showcases, featuring acts like Laurel Halo, Nonotak, and susy.technology. The two disciplines share an interest in new media, the convergence of work and creativity, and “working beyond traditional boundaries.” There’s separate ticket pricing if you just want to attend the summits, or just the music programming. Wednesday–Friday, various venues, $15–$55.
Playwright Jill Connell’s The Supine Cobbler, which warranted a mention in our 2015 best theatre list as an “exceptional new script,” is getting a reading to benefit the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics. A strange stream of consciousness story about visiting such a clinic that’s couched as a women-only Western, the show features fellow playwrights Claudia Dey and Susanna Fournier among the readers. The event is timed to coincide with the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortions. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street), 8 p.m., FREE.
Another play that was on our best theatre of 2015 list, The Watershed, is receiving a remount at The Tarragon Theatre. What we said then: “A a documentary-style recounting of how [playwright Annabel Soutar] and her family spent years interviewing scientists about cuts to Canada’s environmental monitoring, it was informative, entertaining, and affecting as it dramatized the challenges artists, activists, and environmentalists face when trying to deal with an obstructionist bureaucracy.” To October 30, Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue), 8 p.m., $22–$65.
Thursday, September 29
The JFL42 comedy festival, which kicked off last week, moved into its final days this weekend, but there are still plenty of top-notch acts to catch, including Jake and Amir, Natasha Leggero, and Jim Gaffigan. But the hottest ticket may be showcasing comedy’s future stars. The SiriusXM Top Comic competition, which has been months in the making across Canada and online, culminates tonight with eight finalists (Toronto reps include Julia Hladowicz and Chris Robinson). Queen Elizabeth Theatre (190 Princes’ Boulevard), 7 p.m., $30–$69.
The Numbers Game is an exceptionally ambitious collaborative experiment by Storefront Theatre, which enlisted six local playwrights—Claire Burns, Beau Dixon, Emma Mackenzie Hillier, James Schultz, Meghan Swaby, and Bahia Watson—to create a series of theatrical episodes dramatizing the ferocious gang warfare during New York’s prohibition period in the 1930s. Episode one launches in previews (at a preview price) tonight; starting next week, the six episodes begin running two per night each week through the whole saga, right through to the series finale in November. Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West), to November 6, Thursday–Sunday at 7 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. (Episode one runs to October 2, Thursday–Sunday at 8:30 p.m.), $15-$35.
Scrappy hip hop label Hand’Solo Records, a Halifax-based outfit, has helped launch the recording careers of many of Canada’s indie rappers, many of whom have migrated from the East Coast here to Toronto. So it makes sense for the Hand’Solo 20th Anniversary to celebrate their 27th album release (a “double disc” compilation entitled Basements of Bad Men 3) here, with support from artists like Eternia, More or Les, DJ Slam & Ultra Magnus, and more. Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West), doors at 8:30 p.m, show at 9:30 p.m., $10.
Friday, September 30
You really know summer is over when you start seeing Oktoberfest programming. The first one out of the gate in Toronto is the Gladstone Hotel Oktoberfest, which boasts live polka from the Beer Barrel Band, free beer samples with your ticket purchase, pretzels, bratwurst, and more. The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 6 p.m.–10 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
The popular Friday Night Live At the ROM series relaunches tonight. The first edition, SPARK, will feature R&B singer Sean Jones, jazz duo EastSideWest, and DJs Misty and Sanga Genesis, plus an Ancient Pompeiian theme, and access to the current special exhibition Chihuly. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park), 7 p.m.–11:30 p.m., $5–$15.
Also relaunching tonight is big band cover experience Loving In The Name Of, which is returning to the newly reopened Great Hall. Participants singing classic pop and rock anthems include Bry Webb (Constantines), Geordie Gordon (The Magic, who play this weekend too), Carmen Elle (DIANA), and more, singing songs by Prince, The Tragically Hip, Alicia Keys, and more. The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West), doors at 10 p.m., $12.
Weekend, October 1–2
The Vintage Clothing Show promises a warehouse worth of one of a kind outfits for you to piece together, including accessories from designer Chanel to no-name finds from the 1920s on up. October 1 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., October 2 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Heritage Court (100 Princes’ Boulevard), $10.
This year’s Nuit Blanche has just under 90 official projects and is centered between John Street and Bay Street from Dundas to Front; the waterfront, from Bay Street to Spadina; and at City Hall. There’s a number of sites further away from the core participating, including the Aga Khan Museum on the DVP north of Eglinton, The Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox; check out the website for maps and project descriptions. Various venues, October 1 at 7 p.m.–October 2 at 7 a.m., FREE.
A classic pub rock night from some of Toronto’s best kept rock and roll veteran acts, including By Divine Right (who celebrated 20 years last summer), The Magic (who spent this summer touring as backing players for Islands), and Dave Schoonderbeek. They’ll probably go late for the wandering Nuit Blanche crowd. October 1, The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street), doors at 9 p.m., $10–$15.
After you’ve woken up from your all night Nuit Blanche-ing, you could go back to The Monarch Tavern for one of three Sunday performances of a stripped down concert, The Threepenny Opera, presented by Soup Can Theatre and featuring Christian Jeffries, Sarah Thorpe, and Scott Garland. The trio, who are playing all of the characters, will perform afternoon, evening, and night sets. October 2, The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street), shows at 4 p.m, 6:30 p.m., and 9 p.m., $13.
Have a tip for Urban Planner? Let us know via email, ideally more than a week in advance.
Did you like this article? Do you love Torontoist? Support articles like this by becoming a Torontoist subscriber for only a couple dollars a month. Get great perks and fund local journalism that makes a difference—support Torontoist now.