Festivals both big (TIFF) and small (Manifesto); theatre at Second City, and in a shipping container; local lady wrestlers, and a wrestling legend.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Tuesday September 6
Second City’s new mainstage revue, Come what Mayhem, may elicit nearly as many gasps as laughs—though it certainly has plenty of the latter. New cast members Ann Pornel, Roger Bainbridge (Tony Ho), Brandon Hackett (The Sketchersons), and Lindsay Mullan (Truth or Dare) join returning cast members Becky Johnson and Kyle Dooley and director Carly Heffernan for some truly twisted satire. Bainbridge serenades a corpse in an alley; Hackett and Mullan touch on Black Lives Matter as an interracial couple (the acronym is spray-painted on the stage); and Pornel makes a big impression, notably in one scene tackling “fatphobia”. It’s the sort of relevance that may surprise the tourist crowd that many assume is Second City’s target audience—but should keep locals lining up for the show. Second City Toronto (54 Mercer Street), Tuesday–Thursdays 8 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays 7:30 & 10 p.m., Sundays 7:30 p.m., $25–$52.
“Brevity is the
Soul of wit” Haiku Deathmatch.
Supermarket (285 Augusta), sign-up at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $10.
Wednesday September 7
The organizers of the inaugural Kensington Block Party are surely aware of the neighbourhood’s popular Pedestrian Sundays, and the many parades and festivals that routinely populate its streets, and they’re hoping to capitalize on the popularity of such street parties for a good cause—the Kensington Market Refugee Project. From after-work to sundown, they’ll feature live entertainment, local food and drink vendors, and a silent auction to raise funds for a Syrian family the charity is sponsoring. Church of St. Stephen In-The-Fields (103 Bellevue Avenue), 5 p.m.–9 p.m., FREE.
Local talent is also the focus of Confabulation (Accomplices); the storytelling series has lined up performers like Vanessa Smythe, Nisha Coleman, and Marsha Shandur to tell (true) stories about “best friends, co-conspirators, and partners in crime”. The Burdock (1184 Bloor Street West), 7 0 9 p.m., $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
And the international refugee crisis is dramatized and addressed in very close quarters in The Container, a site specific play set inside a shipping container, where audience members sit amongst performers portraying people fleeing their native countries, who’re desperately relying on illegal human traffickers. It was one of our favourite shows of the 2014 SummerWorks Festival (read the review here), and it’s getting a limited remount in the Berkeley Street Theatre parking lot. Runs to September 18, Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), Wednesday–Friday 6 & 9 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 3 & 6 p.m., $25–$44.
Thursday September 8
It’s that time of year again, when the city’s core is taken over by the Toronto International Film Festival, with filmmakers and their A-list (and on down) talent bringing a massive slate of movies to Toronto. Whether you love or hate it, there’s no denying it’s one of the most interesting times of the year on our sidewalks and in our cinemas, restaurants, and bars. September 8–18, various venues, see website for details.
The City of Toronto has launched a pilot project to get the public more involved in municipal projects, offering up to $250,000 to improve wards across Toronto, after solicited public opinion (and ideas) on how to spend said budget. The Participatory Budget Pilot Project has its first public meeting in the Oakridge community this evening, with meetings scheduled through September and October; check their website for details on when one is happening near you. Warden Woods Community Centre (74 Firvalley Court), 6 p.m.–8 p.m., FREE.
Friday September 9
The League of Lady Wrestlers is holding its third (and reportedly final, though you should never take anything said in wrestling at face value) edition of their (elbow) smash hit Island Rumble this evening across the inner harbour, featuring a slate of mostly rookie performers lacing up their boots, slipping on masks, and working on their finishing moves. We documented last year’s sold out event, if you want an idea of just what’s going to go down in the “inclusive, body-positive, trans and queer-friendly space,” besides outlandish costumes and over the top threats. Artscape Gibraltar Point (443 Lakeshore Avenue), 6:30 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. first match, $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
Bad Dog Theatre’s Homecoming Week, features alumni from the improv company’s decades of play, including a marquee event and fundraiser tonight, an anything-but-improv Homecoming Talent Show. Nearly two dozen Bad Dog alumni, including Laura Barrett, Paul Bates, and Mark Little, will show off talents in music, stand-up, and much, much more—and the ticket includes a T-shirt, tax reciept, and entry to a pre-show “tailgate” party. Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street West), 8 p.m., $50.
The Lady Wrestlers aren’t the only local outfit celebrating three years tonight–and many of them may head to Synthesexer’s 3 Year Anniversary Party once they return to the mainland. The monthly electro dance party, which has a “respect for consent and diversity” code similar to the League’s, will be spinning alternative synth hits by Chromeo, Austra, Shamir and more, past last call. The Piston (937 Bloor Street West), 10 p.m–3 a.m., “$5 early, $10 later”.
Weekend September 10-11
Founded in 2007, the Manifesto festival started out tiny and local in Toronto, but has grown to include such stars as Anderson .Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid. The eclectic multi-disciplinary festival aims to use hip-hop culture and the arts to inspire and empower youth, and has as much focus on its summit series, with speakers such as Torontoist alumnus Desmond Cole and Director X, as on the ticketed concerts. The festival kicks off with a launch party headlined by Boi Ida on Friday September 9, and concludes on Sunday September 18 with a free block party at Yonge and Dundas square, headlined by A Tribe Called Red. September 9 – 18, various events & venues, FREE–$80.
Kensington Market isn’t the only neighbourhood willing to shut down its main throughfare for a street festival; the Cabbagetown Festival is celebrating forty years this weekend, with local vendors and entertainment taking over a long stretch of Parliament Street, as well as Carleton from Berkeley to Parliament. Parliament Street from Wellesley Street to Gerrard Street, Saturday September 10, 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday September 11, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., FREE.
And one more treat for wrestling fans this week: WWE superstar Jake “The Snake” Roberts (from back in the day when it was the WWF) is making a one night only appearance on stage at Second City, telling humourous stories from his time in the limelight, and about his struggles with addiction, detailed in the recent Netflix documentary The Resurrection of Jake The Snake. Local comedian David Andrew Brent will host the evening, and Toronto’s own “man mountain of comedy” K. Trevor Wilson (Letterkenny) will open for Roberts. Second City Toronto (54 Mercer Street), Sunday September 11, doors at 9 p.m., Show at 10 p.m., $30.
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