Heritage Tree Tour

  • Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
  • 11 a.m.

The Heritage Tree Tour will teach participants about some of the old and rare trees around Queen’s Park and Philosopher’s Walk. So, yes: you’ll get to spend some quality time outdoors and learn a bunch of new facts. The walk is led by arborist Philip van Wassenaer, who has been working on the preservation of significant trees for the past two decades. Make sure you register early, as it’s sure to be a popular event.

Details: Heritage Tree Tour

The Bonspiel! Cabaret

  • No One Writes to the Colonel (460 College Street)
  • 9 p.m.

If you need something to distract you from the sad fact that the cold, cold weather is nearly upon us, here’s a show that’s well worth attending. The Bonspiel! Cabaret, put on by Bonspiel! Theatre, is a comedy improv show in three acts that focuses on one theme. (The theme of this month’s show is politics.) The event will feature some very special guests, including musician Darren Eedens and Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina).

Details: The Bonspiel! Cabaret


The Royal Ontario Museum Takes a Modern Approach to the Cradle of Civilization

  • Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
  • All day

The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.

Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada.

Details: The Royal Ontario Museum Takes a Modern Approach to the Cradle of Civilization

A Sampling of the Stratford Festival

Scott Wentworth as Tevye, with Jacquelyn French (Hodel), Keely Hutton (Chava) and Jennifer Stewart (Tzeitel) in Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

  • Multiple venues
  • All day

If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions.

Details: A Sampling of the Stratford Festival

BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it

Image courtesy of Jeff Blackburn.

  • Gallery 431 (431 Roncesvalles Avenue)
  • All day

BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it is a solo art exhibition by Jeff Blackburn featuring works that involve bears, which act as guides through various cityscapes (see above for example). Visitors will have the chance to see different public spaces from around the world (with bears!). The opening reception will be held on September 1st and will start at 7 p.m.

Details: BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it

Land|Slide Possible Futures Explores a Suburb in Flux

Duke and Battersby’s Always Popular; Never Cool.

  • Markham Museum (9350 Markham Road)
  • All day

If you look out the window while riding the bus from downtown to Markham, you’ll notice the urban landscape gradually unfolding into the suburban: tight-knit city streets loosen into faster multi-lane roads, box stores assemble in beige-brick clusters, and everywhere new structures are being outstripped by even newer buildings at various stages of completion.

Markham just upgraded itself from town to city in July 2012, and is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse municipalities in the country. And while the place may not inspire many enthusiastic road-trips from downtowners, “Land|Slide Possible Futures,” a new, large-scale public-art exhibition, invites visitors to explore Markham’s history, its quickly changing present, and its potential evolution—while also challenging glib notions surrounding the suburbs themselves.

Details: Land|Slide Possible Futures Explores a Suburb in Flux

“David Bowie Is” Is Taking Over the AGO

  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • All day

When it was originally unveiled at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (England, not Ontario), the “David Bowie Is” exhibition shattered attendance records, selling over 42,000 advance tickets. Now that the show has come to Toronto, it’s easy to see why it was so successful. Composed of over 300 objects from David Bowie’s personal archive, spanning his entire career, the exhibit is arranged and presented as a completely immersive experience, enveloping visitors in a kaleidoscopic visual and aural landscape that would be overwhelming if it weren’t so brilliantly arranged and intelligently guided.

Details: “David Bowie Is” Is Taking Over the AGO

Culture Days

Manuel Jesudasan will perform The King's Fury—a Tamil Folk Drama as part of Culture Days. Photo courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

  • Multiple venues
  • All day

For three days, cities across the country are celebrating Culture Days, a non-profit initiative to encourage Canadians to attend and participate in arts and culture events. Naturally, there’s a plethora of institutions and arts organizations taking part in Toronto. Better still, all the events are free. There are open houses, tours, and performances at places like the Four Seasons Centre, the Toronto Centre For the Arts, and Wychwood Barns. And there’s plenty of special programming at libraries, public and private art galleries, and dance studios. You can search for activities by proximity to your postal code, type, date, organizer, and more at the Culture Days website.

Details: Culture Days

The World According to “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”

  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • 10 a.m.

Ai Weiwei is a 56-year-old artist confined to his home in Beijing for creating work critical of the Chinese government and Chinese culture. There are video cameras outside his house, his phone lines are tapped, his blog was deleted, his Shanghai studio was destroyed in 2010 by authorities, and his passport was confiscated in 2011. To this day, he’s unable to leave his country. Even so, Ai Weiwei has had a large presence in Toronto over the past few months.

This past June, he did a performance piece with artist Laurie Anderson during the Luminato Festival, using Skype. His Zodiac Heads have been installed, temporarily, in the reflecting pool in front of City Hall. At this year’s Nuit Blanche, a large-scale version of his sculpture of bicycles, Forever, will take over Nathan Phillips Square. And beginning August 17, the Art Gallery of Ontario is displaying “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”, a retrospective of the work he produced before and after the Chinese government’s crackdown on his activities helped him find new international acclaim.

Details: The World According to “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”

Louise Pitre Goes Autobiographical in On The Rocks

Louise Pitre bowing in front of accompanist Diane Leah. Photo by Michael Cooper.

  • Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
  • 2 p.m.

Wednesday was not a great day for feminism, if feminism means getting upset when a prominent Canadian author and University of Toronto professor says he doesn’t care much for any literature written by women, or when an engagement ring must be “earned” by making a man 300 sandwiches. Needless to say, Louise Pitre’s one-woman autobiographical show, On The Rocks, couldn’t have opened on a day when audiences were more ready to hear the personal story of one of Canada’s biggest female theatrical role models—especially in a production created by an all-female crew lead by director Jen Shuber.

Details: Louise Pitre Goes Autobiographical in On The Rocks

Look Back in Anger

The cast of Look Back in Anger. Photo courtesy of FeverGraph Theatre Company.

  • Thrush Homes Empire Gallery (1093 Queen Street West)
  • 2 p.m.

FeverGraph Theatre Company wants you to get mad (and perhaps go mad) over their new stage production. Look Back in Anger focuses on four people, and the anger that cripples each of them. Rather being a study of hot tempers, the play examines our common desire to feel something deeper than what reality delivers, our sense of futility, and the anger that ensues. Directed by Anita La Selva, the piece was co-conceived by its performers: Eli Ham, Adriano Sobretodo Jr., Tosha Doiron, and Zoë Sweet.

Details: Look Back in Anger

Memory in the Mud

  • Young Welcome Centre, Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Avenue)
  • 2:30 p.m.

Evergreen Brick Works may be a cool place to ride a bike or check out a farmer’s market, but it also has a rich history that many people don’t know about. Memory in the Mud brings light to these stories with a unique style of roving, interactive theatre courtesy of Words in Motion. Learn about the people who lived and worked at Brick Works throughout the years, including German prisoners of war and those who were left homeless during the Great Depression.

Details: Memory in the Mud

Second City’s New Show Is a Heroic Effort

Allison Price, about to lose her patience with Stacey McGunnigle. Photo courtesy of Second City.

  • Second City (51 Mercer Street)
  • 7:30 p.m.

You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding.

Details: Second City’s New Show Is a Heroic Effort

Tainted is All Heart

Owen Mason plays Leo Steele in Tainted. Photo by Colin O'Connor.

  • Aki Studio Theatre
  • 8 p.m.

When we met Kat Lanteigne the day before her new play, Tainted, opened at Aki Studio Theatre, the first thing she did was apologize for her eye twitch. She had been getting less than four hours of sleep a night as she readied the production for the stage.

Tainted, directed by Vikki Anderson and presented by GromKat Productions and Moyo Theatre, is a play that takes on Canada’s tainted-blood scandal, exploring the devastating impact that tainted blood products have upon one fictionalized family.

Details: Tainted is All Heart


Photo courtesy of Zack Russell.

  • Videofag (187 Augusta Avenue)
  • 8 p.m.

FIXED is a play by Zack Russell that describes itself as a “cross-generation mash-up of gay inventors looking for their fix.” The show’s main character, Gayle, invents a hook-up app that broadcasts men right into a user’s home. What could go wrong?

Details: FIXED