Massive festivals—Caribana, Summerworks, Veld, and more—galore this week, but also local indie events like Dusk Dances, Comedy Brawl, and the Stranded Festival.
Friday, August 4
This year’s SummerWorks Performance Festival, as we wrote in our preview earlier this week, is all about accessibility; not necessarily artistically, as some of the work could be described as challenging, but it’s certainly looking to break down barriers. (That includes financial: rather than raise their $15 base ticket price this year, the festival has instituted a flexible ticketing price structure, with options to pay in increments of $10.) In addition to the shows we already covered in our preview, there’s also plenty of free programming, like the opening and closing parties, and late night programming featuring music acts like Bonjay, Regina Gently, and more.
to August 13, various times & venues, FREE-$35.
More festivals! It seems like the whole city is celebrating island culture this long weekend, which gets going today and goes through until Monday. The biggest umbrella event is of course The Toronto Caribbean Festival, still colloquially known as Caribana, which is celebrating its 50th year, and culminates on Saturday (though events continue to Monday) with the Grand Parade, which kicks off from Exhibition Place.
The Harbourfront Centre has complimentary programming with its Island Soul Festival, featuring family friendly events down along the water all weekend, plus acts like Johnny Osbourne and Sister Nancy, Calypso Stars, and more.
Further west along the waterfront, just south of Exhibition Place, the Art and Music Ontario Festival takes over Ontario Place, featuring music acts like Lowell, and The Johnnys, plus food trucks. (Food truck operators will be exceedingly busy this weekend, with a Food Truck Festival also taking place over at Woodbine Park.)
Weather permitting, it’d be a great day to spend in High Park. That’s because there’s a daytime festival, the Global Village, featuring food and cultural performances by Blue Dot Band, Neema Children’s Choir, and more, plus workshops in cider pressing and steel drum playing; in the evening, stick around to see Twelfth Night, the comedy part of the Shakespeare in High Park double bill (we reviewed King Lear two weeks back). It’s a charming and streamlined adaptation of the classic, featuring wily heroine Viola (a chipper Amelia Sargisson) ingratiating herself into the affairs of two houses ruled by Duke Orsino (Richard Lee) and Countess Olivia (Naomi Wright), and whose entanglements become worse when her twin brother Sebastian (Brett Dahl), thought lost at sea, turns up. Director Tanja Jacobs has set the proceedings in a 1970s resort hotel, and there’s some broad comedic swipes alluding to hippies, but nothing especially adds or distracts from the simple fun of watching the characters fall for each other—or, in the case of the uptight Malvolio (a dour Robert Persichini), for himself.
Global Village takes place today at the High Park Ampitheatre (1873 Bloor Street West), 11 a.m.-4 p.m., FREE.
Twelfth Night runs to September 3, High Park Ampitheatre (1873 Bloor Street West), Wednesdays/Fridays/Sundays, 8 p.m., PWYC.
Major Lazer headlines the Veld Festival on Sunday.
Saturday, August 5
Let’s add a bunch of music festivals to the already jammed weekend of cultural festivals. The Veld Music Festival features a focus on electronic and dance acts, including the nominally Toronto-based Major Lazer headlining on Sunday, plus Future, A$AP Ferg, Migos, and more.
Drake’s own festival, OVO, is boasting an all local line-up this year—PARTYNEXTDOOR, dvsn, Majid Jordan, and Roy Woods—though everyone expects there to be some high-profile guests dropping in at the outdoor Budweiser Stage (formerly the Molson Amphitheatre).
Also all local, and in town: the aforementioned Art & Music Ontario Festival.
This year’s edition of Stranded Fest, which features local bands each paying tribute to a seminal band they love, has PKEW PKEW PKEW doing The Clash; GOOD KID as The Strokes; cleopatrick as The Black Keys, and a half-dozen more. (If you show up early enough, there’s even free Panago’s pizza, according to organizers.)
Lee’s Palace (506 Bloor Street West), doors at 8 p.m., $12-$18.
Sunday, August 6
We published a full profile of Blockobana, an event celebrating blackness and queerness held concurrently with Caribana, earlier this week, which addressed issues of bigotry at the festival (TL;DR: there are plenty of queer Black people working with and within the festival who deserve support). The all-day street party might not garner the same numbers as Saturday’s Grand Parade, but it’s a fiercely local and exhilaratingly joyful event, according to op-ed writer Craig Dominic.
Regent Park (620 Dundas Street East), noon-11 p.m., FREE.
There was a memorial for George A. Romero two weeks back that was open to the public, but for the hardcore film fans, tonight’s Survival of The Dead screening and tribute event will be held in the best place (besides a graveyard?) to celebrate his work. There will be cast, crew, and special guests present who’ll speak about Romero after the film (the final one he shot), and clips beforehand featuring Romero speaking about his long career in cinema.
Royal Cinema (608 College Street), 8 p.m., $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Monday, August 7
This year’s Dusk Dances, which is touring Ontario all summer, lands in Withrow Park all week, and features five original Canadian dance pieces, performed outside, from outfits like Gadfly and Company 605. Each evening will feature a musical performance at the start by SWAHA, and host Allegra Charleston introducing the pieces.
To August 13, Monday-Sunday, opening band at 7 p.m., dance at 7:30 p.m., PWYC (Suggest donation $15).
The Sing For Your Supper play-reading series, nomadic since the Storefront Theatre shut their doors, has landed at a new venue for now; the Monarch Tavern, where hosts Kat Letwin and Cam Wylie will introduce scripts selected by curator Marissa Heintzman from the past month’s submissions; they’ll be read by actor-participants (to be one of these, show up by 7 p.m.).
The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton street), 8 p.m., FREE.
Tuesday, August 8
The Comedy Brawl is a long-running (this is its ninth year) stand-up tournament that, over the course of the summer, gradually whittles down contestants to an ultimate winner of the $1,000 prize. At the current quarter-finals level, all of the contestants have earned their slot, and there’s a mix of pros and merging talent; tonight’s edition includes Courtney Gilmour as a competitor, last week’s winner of the JFL Homegrown Comic contest in Montreal.
Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $5.
Wednesday, August 9
Not everything in the SummerWorks Performance Festival is performance art. The festival is also concerned with the development of both audiences and artistic practices, through the prism of accessibility. This afternoon, there’s an Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism Workshop being held, with facilitator Rania El Mugammar, as part of S.L.I.P. (SummerWorks Leadership Intensive Program); there are limited public spots, so attendees are advised to pre-register.
Artscape Youngplace (189 Shaw Street), 2 p.m., FREE.
Two of Toronto’s best stand-ups to have come from the Laugh Sabbath scene, Tom Henry and Chris Locke, are collaborating on a new show called New Summer Jokes. Joining them on the bill for this first edition: guest host Glenn Macaulay, and The Sufferettes (Kayla Lorette and Becky Johnson).
Double Double Land (209 Augusta Avenue), 9 p.m., $7.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.