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The Weekender: The Penelopiad, Canada’s Top Ten and five more events on our to-do list

Megan Follows stars in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (Image: Robert Popkin)

1. THE PENELOPIAD
Following last year’s acclaimed run, Nightwood Theatre’s production of The Penelopiad is back at Buddies in Bad Times. Written by Margaret Atwood as a response to Homer’s The Odyssey, this play’s all-female cast is led by Megan Follows (yes, of Anne of Green Gables fame), who stars as Odysseus’s wife Penelope as she waits for her husband to return home (an absence that stretches decades). Joining Follows is her Anne co-star, Patricia Hamilton, as well as a flock of actresses who form a dazzling Greek chorus. January 8–February 10. $37–$45. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., 416-975-8555, buddiesinbadtimes.com

2. CANADA’S TOP TEN
What better time than the dead of winter than to mount a celebration of the year’s best Canadian films? Highlights of the second weekend of this mini-festival include screenings of two big adaptations: Deepa Mehta’s take on Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and David Cronenberg’s characteristically eerie version of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis. And for those seeking something a little less high-minded, TIFF is also screening Youngblood, a hockey film shot in Toronto featuring a very young Keanu Reeves in his feature film debut, alongside Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze (ok, this isn’t one of Canada’s Top Ten, but it is, believe it or not, the beginning of a new Keanu series at TIFF). January 4–13. $12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net

3. LONG WINTER
The third of four nights this winter curated by Toronto hardcore heroes Fucked Up, this smorgasbord crams musical acts, food, art and dancing into every nook of The Great Hall. Highlights include performances by Buck 65, Picastro and Moon King (Fucked Up themselves are sitting this one out). Katie Stelmanis of Austra is billed as providing “Magic Moments” (apparently a rave in the Great Hall’s basement), and the Burrito Bike (remember that?) will be making a long-awaited-for reappearance. PWYC. The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W., torontolongwinter.com

4. THE HAPPY SHOW
Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister has designed album covers for the likes of The Rolling Stones and Talking Heads, and has had his work compiled in solo shows around the world. In this exhibition, Sagmeister presents the fruit of 10 years of exploration attempting to define the idea of happiness, whether achieved through quiet meditation or through pharmaceuticals. At the core of the show, a set of rules to live by that are guaranteed to make you happy—might be worth taking some notes while you’re there. January 9–March 3. $15.20. The Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121, dx.org

5. NEXT STAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL
The Next Stage Theatre Festival, hosted at Factory Theatre, presents 10 productions that are mostly more fully developed versions of the most promising plays from the Fringe Festival. Highlights include Awake, from 2011’s Fringe, which looks at growing up in St. Jamestown, and the subway romance story With Love and a Major Organ. There’s also new production Throne of Games, a comedic improvisation from Bad Dog Theatre based on the hit HBO series (complete with a warning of “possible nudity”). As at the summer festival, there will be a covered beer tent—though this time it will be used to keep warm instead of cool off. January 2-13. $10–$15. Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., 416-966-1062, fringetoronto.com

6. FOR THE LOVE OF R&B
Those who come down on the former side of the age-old lover/fighter dichotomy will want to head to the Sound Academy on Saturday for this night of slow jams. Comedian Jay Martin hosts this Big Brothers and Sisters fundraiser, which is headlined by 90s heartthrob Ginuwine (whose pair of Timbaland-produced albums are R&B classics) with support from crooner Bobby V and DJs Charlie Brown and D’Enforcas. The show will kick off with some surprise performances from local talent. January 12. $55. Sound Academy, 11 Polson St., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca

7. THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF ANATOL
Casanova’s spiritual protégé Anatol is a Viennese playboy who is convinced that each woman he meets is “the one” causing him to pursue her with unbridled enthusiasm—until the next coquette catches his eye, of course. Written and directed by Morris Panyche, this witty modernization of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1893 play stars Robert Persichini as the narcissistic and impetuous Anatol. Saturday’s performance features free pre- and post-show lectures discussing the Freudian motives behind Anatol’s various lustings. January 9–February 10. $48–$53. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827, tarragontheatre.com

 

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