In the Playroom

  • Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)
  • All day

The city-wide Contact Photography Festival always features a great number of exhibits that are well worth your time, but one you don’t want to miss is “In the Playroom.” This award-winning (and controversial) series from Jonathan Hobin (whose work draws from the darker side of childhood imagination and storytelling) explores the idea of the “impossibility of a protective space, safe from the reach of modern media.” Opening reception is on May 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Details: In the Playroom

Black Museum Lecture: Raising Hell

  • Big Picture Cinema
  • 8 p.m.

In 1971, Ken Russell released The Devils, a film set in 17th-century France, featuring an oversexed priest, sexually repressed nuns, and the ensuing exorcisms and trials. The Black Museum presents Richard Crouse, film critic, and author of Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of the Devils, as he takes a deeper look into the strange and controversial aftermath of a film that was banned and ignored by its own company.

Details: Black Museum Lecture: Raising Hell

Life x 3

  • Unit 102 Theatre
  • 8 p.m.

Life x 3 presents the tale of Henry and Sonia, who have to deal with a couple that unexpectedly shows up to dinner a day early. The best part? In this play, you get to see three different versions of the evening’s events. Directed by Andrew Lamb (My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding).

Details: Life x 3

A Few Brittle Leaves, One Strong Play

Philippe Van de Maele Martin, Edward Roy, and Gavin Crawford visit little Britain in A Few Brittle Leaves. Photo by Sydney Helland.

  • Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street)
  • 8 p.m.

In A Few Brittle Leaves, when the lights came up on the quiet, conservatively decorated home of the Pie sisters, in the small British township of UpsyDownsyshire, it didn’t take long for this unassuming setting to get a disproportionately loud response from the audience. Applause and laughter erupted when the crowd caught sight of the elderly Pie sisters themselves: Viola, a tall woman dressed in a grey-and-brown sweater and a floor-length skirt, with her mousy hair tucked away on her head; and Penny, a shorter, stouter woman in a purple dress and matching jacket, with a sleek blonde bob.

Details: A Few Brittle Leaves, One Strong Play

Graydon James and The Young Novelists Book Launch

  • Hugh's Room (2261 Dundas Street West)
  • 8:30 p.m.

Singer and songwriter Graydon James is launching his first novel—a dark comic satire called “The Mall of Small Frustrations”—with a concert and a reading from the book. Joining James’ The Young Novelists band (which is a pretty fitting name given the event) will be special guests Ron Hawkins and Stephen Stanley from The Lowest of the Low, as well as Andrea Ramolo, of Scarlett Jane. Writer and musician David Newland will host the evening.

Details: Graydon James and The Young Novelists Book Launch

Ongoing…

I Thought There Were Limits

Kika Thorne's Singularity. Photo by Scott Massey, courtesy of the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

  • Justina M Barnicke Gallery (7 Hart House Circle)
  • All day

When’s the last time you attempted to reconceptualize the dimensions of space? If it’s been a while, you might consider checking out a new exhibition called I Thought There Were Limits, which aims to do just that. This particular exhibit is unique in that the artwork forms a relationship with the site itself (in this case, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery). The work on display is brought to you by curator Julia Abraham (as part of the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto). The artists include Karen Henderson, Yam Lau, Gordon Lebredt, Kika Thorne, and Josh Thorpe.

Details: I Thought There Were Limits

Illustrator Gemma Correll Fills a Toronto Shop With Pug-Themed Merch

A pugerrific pillow print.

  • Magic Pony (680 Queen Street West)
  • All day

For someone well known for her expressive and awwww-inducing drawings of pugs, U.K.-based illustrator Gemma Correll came to her love of the animal late. “I was always a cat person growing up, so I think the pug was like my gateway dog,” she said at Magic Pony, an art and design shop on Queen West that is currently hosting The Mr. Pickles Fan Club, the first Canadian exhibition of her work.

Details: Illustrator Gemma Correll Fills a Toronto Shop With Pug-Themed Merch

Hot Docs Festival

  • Multiple venues
  • All day

Spring in Toronto is marked by an influx of bikes on the streets, people returning to our parks, and, of course, the Hot Docs festival.

While the weather has so far not fully cooperated with the first two of those activities, rain and cold weather aren’t a hindrance to catching some world-class documentaries. The festival turns 20 this year, but a quarter-life crisis is nowhere in sight. The largest non-fiction film shindig in North America continues to impress, with 205 documentaries screening over 10 days, including 44 world premieres, and films from 43 countries. It’s a lot, but we’re here to help!

Details: Your Guide to Hot Docs 2013

Early Sunday Morning

Early Sunday Morning showcases Toronto's colourful, and disappearing, heritage streetscapes. Photo by David Kaufman.

  • Twist Gallery (1100 Queen Street West)
  • 11 a.m.

David Kaufman’s Early Sunday Morning photography exhibit simultaneously celebrates the heritage of Toronto’s architecture, while pleading for its preservation, in the face of gentrification and condo development. The building facades and structures, rich in texture and colour, are each captured at their most beautiful—basking in the light of early morning.

Details: Early Sunday Morning

It’s a Full House in True West

It's brotherly love between Lee (Stuart Hughes) and Austin (Mike Ross) in True West. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

  • Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane)
  • 7:30 p.m.

Sam Shepard’s plays are famously all about man as a caged animal, prowling and brooding around his enclosure (usually a North American domicile), eventually tearing it apart like an untrained puppy suffering from separation anxiety. He is a man’s man’s writer, the lone wolf in the wilderness that so many young males fantasize about—even, it often seems, Shepard himself.

As his most famous work, one of Shepard’s Family Trilogy, True West is a great example: two brothers, Hollywood screenwriter Austin (Mike Ross) and the petty-thieving vagabond Lee (Stuart Hughes), somehow end up house-sitting for their mother while she’s on vacation in Alaska (though only Austin was asked to do so). It’s clear in the script that both men make solo trips outside the walls of their mother’s suburban home, but we never see them apart from each other. That’s because Lee and Austin are two halves of the same man. In fact, it’s common for the two main actors to alternate the roles throughout a run of the show.

Details: It’s a Full House in True West

Falsettos

  • Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East)
  • 8 p.m.

Falsettos, a groundbreaking and Tony Award–winning musical, comes to town for a short run, presented by The Acting Up Stage Company. The story takes us to New York City in 1979, where the Sexual Revolution is hot, AIDS is on the rise, and Marvin, a husband and father, has decided to leave his family for a man. Directed by Robert McQueen and starring Darrin Baker, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Sarah Gibbons, Michael Levinson, Eric Morin, Stephen Patterson, and Glynis Ranney.

Details: Falsettos

Race Gets Under Your Skin

There's black, white, and a lot of grey area in David Mamet's Race at Canadian Stage. Photo by David Hou.

  • Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East)
  • 8 p.m.

There are few playwrights whose names can double as adjectives (think “Shakespearean,” or “Beckettian”). But Race, now on at Canadian Stage, makes us want to coin a new one of those words. That’s because of the opening scene, where a black lawyer named Henry Brown addresses a white man with the line “You want to tell me about Black folks?” while leaning back in his office chair at the end of a long boardroom table. It’s distinctly Mamettian.

The American playwright David Mamet is known as much for his portrayal of fast-talking, morally ambiguous businessmen as he is for “Mamet speak,” his unique style of verbose, curse-filled, overlapping dialogue or long-winded speeches. His 2010 script Race is no different—in fact, it might be his most Mamettian to date. It certainly doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to its subject matter (as the title suggests). Discourse surrounding race, privilege, language, and cultural history consumes the entire play.

Details: Race Gets Under Your Skin

A Few Brittle Leaves

Edward Roy and Gavin Crawford star in A Few Brittle Leaves. Photo courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

  • Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street)
  • 8 p.m.

Edward Roy and Gavin Crawford star as two 50-something spinster sisters in the gender bending A Few Brittle Leaves. Residing in a suburb of London, Viola and Penelope are faced with the inevitability of aging and the question of whether to abandon their search for love. That is, until the new vicar comes to town and turns their world upside down.

Details: A Few Brittle Leaves

The Playwright Project Tours Sam Shepard Across Toronto

Adam Kenneth Wilson and Vanessa Dunn in Cowboy Mouth, directed by Natasha Greenblatt. It's one of seven Sam Shepard plays that will tour around Toronto for a week. Photo courtesy of the Playwright Project.

  • Multiple venues
  • 8 p.m.

In theatre, it’s one thing to have an idea. It’s another to actually see the idea through. And it’s another thing entirely to see it happen a second time.

“It’s nerve-wracking because we’re not new anymore, so it’s not as easy to get people excited about it as it was last year when it was a new and shiny thing. Like, ‘Are those scrappy kids going to pull it off?'” says Alex Johnson, project director of The Playwright Project, which is about to launch its second edition. By “those scrappy kids,” Johnson is referring to the collective of independent theatre companies that joined forces last year to create The Tennessee Project, a week-long festival that toured a series of Tennessee Williams one-act plays through seven Toronto neighbourhoods. The idea was that each play would perform in a new venue each night, but that those venues would be familiar places like bars, restaurants, or community centres, and the crews would not only perform in neighbourhoods (from North York to Greektown to Roncesvalles), but would volunteer for local projects and organizations as well. It was an ambitious gamble for a bunch of young theatre-makers frustrated by a lack of time and resources to stage their own work. But according to Johnson, it was a resounding success.

Details: The Playwright Project Tours Sam Shepard Across Toronto

CanAsian International Dance Festival

Next Steps presents the CanAsian International Dance Festival. Photo by Funna Kang.

  • Harbourfront Centre, Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West)
  • 10 p.m., 8 p.m.

Next Steps presents four days of contemporary and traditional dance as part of the CanAsian International Dance Festival. Showcasing everything from Turkish Whirling to Japanese Butoh, the performances and films draw from a wide range of Asian ideas and expressions.

Details: CanAsian International Dance Festival