Cream of Comedy, an annual showcase for emerging comedic talent, is at Second City once again, and we’ll soon know the identity of this year’s Tim Sims Encouragement Award winner. Past nominee Pat Thornton will be hosting. This year’s nominees: Brandon Ash Mohammed, Diana Bailey, Franco Nguyen, Nigel Grinstead, and sketch troupe The Weaker Vessels. The winner will be revealed at the end of the show, and will score bragging rights and a cheque for five grand.
Constantly mutating theatre company Small Wooden Shoe has launched a variety show to complement its popular Difficult Plays and Simple Songs reading/sing-along series, and it’s going old-school, making the performance a radio show (which presumably will also be a podcast). The line-up for The Fun Palace Radio Variety Show on November 4 includes the Fun Palace Players and special guests Anand Rajaram, Rob Baker, and Katie Ewald.
The Toronto Public Library launches its fifth-annual On Stage Arts Series, giving Torontonians inside glimpses of new upcoming plays with the artistic directors of different companies. On October 28, Factory Theatre co-artistic director Nigel Shawn Williams talks with The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble playwright Beth Graham; on November 4, Studio 180 AD Joel Greenberg talks about Gods of Carnage; on November 11, recent Siminovitch Prize recipient Chris Abraham, AD of Crow’s Theatre, chats with Marcus Youssef and James Long, writers and performers of Winners and Losers; and on November 25, Theatre Passe Muraille’s associate artistic producer Rob Kempson will be on hand to discuss the play he’s written, The Way Back to Thursday.
Driftwood Theatre’s fundraiser this year has a huge pop-culture property at its heart, plus a number of classically trained actors to help bring it to life. The 2013 edition of Play in a Pub will be a staging of Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, a mash-up of the bard’s work with George Lucas’s space opera. The cast includes Michael Therriault as R2D2, Sarah Wilson as Princess Leia, Karl Ang as Jabba the Hutt, and veteran actor R.H. Thomson as Obi Wan Kenobi. A silent auction begins at 6:30 p.m. and closes at 8 p.m., when “It is a period of civil war…” opens the show.
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.
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.
For its 34th birthday, the International Festival of Authors is actually getting younger. One of the themes this year is Brave New Word, a Huxleyan allusion referring not to the demise of books (a Brave New World scenario), but to the next generation of notable writers participating in the festival. Among this group is Canadian-born author Eleanor Catton, who last week, at age 28, became the youngest person ever to win the Man Booker Prize (for her second novel, The Luminaries).
Like the company’s recent triumph, Angels in America, Soulpepper’s newest show, The Norman Conquests, requires multiple trips to the theatre—or a hearty constitution for a full day of marathon attendance. Unlike Angels in America, the three instalments of The Norman Conquests—Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden—are comic in nature and small in scope, with each instalment taking place in a different part of a couple’s house. Written by prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, the three-part series features veteran members of the Soulpepper ensemble, and can be “enjoyed individually or in any combination.”
In keeping with play’s basement-bar motif, your program for Bob Kills Theatre’s production of Pulitzer-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo comes in a drink-menu format. The venue, a newly renovated basement hall called The Downstage (previously used by the Playwright Project and other independent companies), has undergone considerable changes, and now boasts blacked-out walls, more lighting, and an actual (albeit small) stage. But most of Savage Limbo, described by Shanley as a “concert play,” is set in the round on broken-down beer-box flooring that’s supposed to suggest a neighbourhood watering hole. There, a motley assortment of dreamers and malcontents are trying to change their lives.