Think you know your city? It might just be time to get updated on the people and places in your neighbourhood. Jane’s Walk, the worldwide weekend of walking, is back again for another few days of guided tours all around Toronto. Check out some of the listings (which include history, nature, and culture walks) here so you can plan your epic weekend of walking accordingly.
Think you know the ins and outs of your city? Try putting your skills to the test with Toronto Scavenger Hunt 2013. This year’s event will be challenging teams to go out and find a list of items found all over Toronto’s downtown core (physical items, pieces of information, or tasks). Last year, organizers Improv in Toronto had over 500 participants, so it’s great fun!
Beyond Borderlands is a unique new art forum that explores a variety of different topics and themes (while using a number of different mediums). For their launch party, there’ll be contact juggling, puppetry, lectures, belly dancing, and an open mic. Baked goods and refreshments will also be provided.
If you’re excited by the news that Whose Line Is It Anyway? is returning this summer, then you won’t want to miss this edition of Impromptu Splendor that features improv veteran, Colin Mochrie. Prepare yourself for a one-act theatre play that’s completely made up on the spot. The show also features Deb McGrath (Little Mosque on the Prairie), and Impromptu Splendor founders Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. The Marty Topps House Party Show is having its final show together since it first launched as a bi-monthly comedy variety show back in 2008. But hold off the tears for they have a pretty awesome lineup of performers! Featuring special guests (deep breath) Eric Andrews, Sara Hennessey, Robert Dayton, Jayvlog89, Marty ‘catman’ Simsovic, Angelo Tony Luongo, and more. Hosted by Marty Topps and DJ T-Bot.
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.
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.
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!
For the 2013 edition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, artistic director Bonnie Rubenstein didn’t choose her exhibits based on the festival’s theme. Instead, she let the exhibits choose the theme.
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.
For the annual InFORMING CONTENT creation laboratory weekend, Volcano Theatre partners with University of Toronto’s Jackman Humanities Institute to combine new theatre ideas with new academic ones. The weekend begins with a public lecture by the institute’s fellows (Friday May 3, 7 p.m.), then the artist participants spend all Saturday and Sunday mornings creating new site specific works based on those themes, which they’ll then present to the public (Sunday May 5, 3–6 p.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.
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.
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.
The Love Letters Cabaret is back with The Lady, a series of lessons on “proper” ladylike behaviour, with nods to the silver screen idols and pin-ups of the 1940s. Choreographed by Pastel Supernova, the show features over a dozen dancers and performers. There are dinner packages available as well.
In 1897, Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler wrote a play so scandalous that at first he only shared it among his friends. It wasn’t publicly staged until 1920 and, unsurprisingly, it caused an uproar. The ruffled feathers had to do with La Ronde‘s frank discussion of sexual relationships—in particular, those between members of different social classes. But while the acts themselves were originally left up to the audience’s imagination, Soulpepper Theatre’s current, modernized adaptation goes all the way with its sex scenes.
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).
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.
Hatch is back! For those not in the know, Hatch is the Harbourfront Centre’s annual performing arts residency, showcasing works by artists from around the city. This year’s event features exhibitions that explore the moments before and after a photograph, talk politics with LGBTQ folks in their honeymoon suite, and more, all month long. Events take place in the Studio Theatre.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Yee examines life’s interconnectivity in Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave. The play follows an escort in Thailand, a housewife in Utah, and a Catholic priest in India, and how their lives are simultaneously brought together and torn apart by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Classic comedy series Theatresports is back for another season of improv hilarity. Now in its 30th year, this comedy tournament continues the tradition of allowing the audience members to choose the content of the scene and letting them judge the results; finals will be held at the end of May. Among the planned guests are comedic greats including Lisa Merchant and Craig Anderson (Canadian Comedy Award winners), Kerry Griffin (Second City alum), and many more.
The Canadian comedy community rightfully regards the members of The Kids in The Hall as homegrown legends, and this weekend, like Hercules and The Hitman before him, Kevin McDonald will be in residency at Toronto’s Comedy Bar. The comedian, who recently did another stint in the writer’s room on Saturday Night Live, is in town to teach a workshop and will guest on some of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows: Catch 23 Improv (Friday May 3, 8 p.m.), Mantown (Friday May 2, 10:30 p.m.), Monkey Toast (Saturday May 4, 8 p.m.), Bad Dog Theatre Presents… (Saturday May 4, 10 p.m.), and Sunday Night Live (Sunday May 5, 9:30 p.m.).