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Eight reasons not to write another play about Rob Ford

Theatrical productions about Rob Ford have become so commonplace that the Globe and Mail’s theatre critic has taken to discouraging people from making them. The epidemic has spanned several genres, from opera, to comedy to low-budget indie. Now, a local group is in the early stages of casting a Rob Ford musical, which the playwright, Ben McCaig, told the Canadian Press will riff on the mayor’s similarities to Shakespeare’s Falstaff. (In yet another indication of how crazy the Ford-on-stage trend is getting, the video above is actually a promo for another, completely separate Rob Ford musical.)

Clearly, this has to stop. Here, for the benefit of theatre people everywhere, is a rundown of all the Ford-themed stage productions we know of, complete with a handy guide to which of them were just absolutely terrible ideas.

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A painting of the Don Valley Parkway’s rainbow tunnel could sell for more than $16 million

Country Rock (Wing Mirror), by Peter Doig. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Country Rock (Wing Mirror), by Peter Doig. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Anyone who has driven past the Don Valley Parkway’s rainbow tunnel over the past 40 some-odd years and not somehow cashed in on the experience will be feeling pretty dumb on June 30th, when Sotheby’s London auctions off a painting of that very tunnel for a sum that, according to the Globe, is considered likely to land well north of $16 million.

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This could be your big chance to have an awkward run-in with Peter Dinklage

(Image: @Transit30069/Twitter)

(Image: @Transit30069/Twitter)

There are few celebrities bigger (or smaller, for that matter) than Peter Dinklage in 2014, and so it’s not surprising that the Game of Thrones and X-Men: Days of Future Past star’s appearances in Yorkville over the weekend caused a little bit of a stir. Dinklage is in town with Adam Sandler, shooting a Chris Columbus movie called Pixels, which IMDB says is about video-game experts who “are recruited by the military to fight 1980s-era video game characters who’ve attacked New York.” That may not be the most promising premise, but it does at least mean that Dinklage (and Sandler, and a few other famous-ish people) will be around town for the next little while, so anyone who missed their opportunity to sneak a picture of Tyrion Lannister himself may get a second chance.

Here’s what happened while Dinklage was in Yorkville.

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Where to watch movies outdoors this summer

This summer, there’s movie magic all over the city—in parks, on beaches and on train platforms galore

When Nature Calls

Sail-In Cinema at Sugar Beach (Image: courtesy Toronto Port Authority)

The long winter of 2014 was Toronto’s coldest in 20 years, transforming the city into a treacherous tundra and its citizens into those icicle zombies from Game of Thrones. Now that it’s over, we’re ready to go out—and stay out. Luckily, there are more things to do outside than ever before—more starlit movies, festivals and open-air theatres. Here, a handy guide to alfresco events in the city—the kinds of season-specific cultural goodies best enjoyed on a blanket with a discreet plastic party cup in hand. (For venue locations, see the map, below.)

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VIDEO: Watch Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan be romantically comedic together in Toronto

Directors shoot all kinds of movies in Toronto, but if the movie actually has to be set here, seemingly only one genre will do: romantic comedy. The F Word, a soon-to-be-released movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as a cute couple trapped in an awkwardly sexless friendship (in the U.S., it will be released under the tamer name What If), is the latest film to bring a complicated romance to town. The official trailer just landed on YouTube today. It’s embedded above, but here, for convenience’s sake, are some screenshots of all the Toronto locations in it we could identify. Because it’s always nice to see the hometown getting its due.

Feel free to let us know in the comments if you spot any locations we missed. (If you saw the movie when it debuted at TIFF last year and are totally over it, feel free to keep that to yourself.)

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Stage Fight

After his messy breakup with the Factory Theatre, Ken Gass has rebounded with a star-studded new company. How a shy indie producer became one of the most powerful players in Toronto theatre


Stage Fight

In June 2012, the harmonious Toronto theatre community experienced its first juicy scandal. That month, the Factory, one of the most storied players in the city’s indie drama scene, fired Ken Gass, their long-time artistic director—he founded the company in 1970, rescued it from financial ruin in 1996, and introduced Canadian theatre­goers to nascent dramatic giants like George F. Walker and ­Tomson Highway. At the heart of Gass’s dismissal was a scuffle so mundane it could’ve been a Slings and Arrows spoof. He wanted to transform the haunted ­mansion of a ­theatre into a sparkling modern arts centre. The board refused, claiming Gass’s plan would have cost $13 million—about 40 times the yearly fund­raising amount.

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Five ways to get the most out of this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival

(Image: courtesy of TCAF)

(Image: courtesy of TCAF)

This weekend marks the ninth edition of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the annual two-day exhibition that takes over the Toronto Reference Library—and some surrounding sites—for the purpose of celebrating comics and cartoonists. The festival differs from nerd conventions like Comicon or Fan Expo, where cosplay is commonplace and many of the products are pushed by major media companies. Instead, TCAF focuses on smaller publishers and self-publishers. Since it was launched in 2003, the event has become one of the most popular and successful of its kind in North America. And it’s free to attend.

Here, a handy guide to getting the most out of the festival.

1. Know who you want to see
There are hundreds of cartoonists from around the world at TCAF, and you can’t see them all. So check out the list of exhibitors beforehand. Maybe you’re a lifelong For Better or For Worse fan, and would like to tell Lynn Johnston how you felt when Farley died. Or maybe you want to tell Kate Beaton that you love her comics about bumbling historical figures. Or maybe Jeff Smith’s super popular Bone series is more your speed, and you want him to sign your book. That’s great, and you can do all that. But they’ll have long lines, so pick and choose who you most want to meet so you don’t leave disappointed.

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This American Life comes to Toronto to do a story about cocaine

this-american-life-logoMaybe this post’s headline should have been “Rob Ford delivers promised boost to tourism”?

In any case, the first five minutes of this week’s This American Life are very much worth listening to, and not only because This American Life is great. As the lead-off to an episode titled “I Was So High,” the venerable public-radio show included a segment by producer Sean Cole about the role cocaine plays in Toronto’s bar scene. (People who do cocaine in bars probably don’t need a radio show to tell them how pervasive the drug is, but to the rest of us it’s news.) Cole interviews a few local bar workers and concludes that coke is like “fuel for the staff.” Naturally, mayor Ford gets a mention. One gets the sense that his spectacular public-relations work on behalf of Toronto’s coke scene may have been what got the story green-lit.

Host Ira Glass seems duly nonplussed by our mayor, but you know what? This American Life is based in Chicago. To the best of our knowledge, Ford is their problem now.

Audio of the segment can be found on the show’s website.

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The Argument: How Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany turned a sci-fi thriller into can’t-miss TV

On the sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany juggles seven distinct characters—a feat of dramatic dexterity that’s made her TV’s biggest breakout star

The Argument: Orphan Black

Tatiana Maslany, about to spot her double in the opening scene of the Space series Orphan Black. Spoiler alert: one of them dies via GO train (Image: courtesy Bell Media)

Tatiana Maslany has the toughest job in television. On the Toronto-shot sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, she plays Sarah, an east London street thief; Alison, a supremely high-strung Scarborough soccer mom; and Helena, a psychotic Ukrainian assassin. Then there’s Cosima, a Berkeley-hippie grad student; Beth, a suicidal cop; and Rachel, an icy CEO. They’re clones, engineered by an evil biotech company for a twisted science experiment. All totalled, Maslany plays seven wildly different characters—a feat of dramatic dexterity that has earned her raves since the show premiered on Space in March 2013.

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Famed Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs monologuist Mike Daisey’s next project? Rob Ford

(Image: Daisey: mikedaisey.blogspot.ca; Ford: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Daisey: mikedaisey.blogspot.ca; Ford: Christopher Drost)

Anyone who knows Mike Daisey at all probably knows him from The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a fantastically entertaining monologue about Apple’s labour practices in China that managed to inspire some justified public uproar over low-wage electronics assembly after it aired on NPR’s This American Life. Daisey became even better known, although not in a good way, when it turned out that many of Agony and Ecstasy’s supposedly true details were entirely made up.

The scorn Daisey faced following This American Life’s hour-long retraction of his story puts him in a unique position when it comes to Rob Ford. Both men became famous by breaking sacred rules, and now Daisey plans to capitalize on that connection. He’ll be debuting Dreaming of Rob Ford, his newest monologue, at Crow’s Theatre’s East-End Performance Crawl in May.

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Slideshow: a preview of “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” the AGO’s new fleshy, figurative exhibition

Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty at the AGO

With its latest exhibition, “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” the Art Gallery of Ontario is offering visitors two shows in one. The first Canadian exhibition of Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon’s work will be merged with the AGO’s own collection of works by English sculptor Henry Moore.

Born in Dublin in 1909, Bacon’s work was defined by its bleak, figurative approach to the human body. A kind of proto-David Cronenberg, Bacon seemed to regard human flesh as infinitely malleable—fit to be twisted and warped into all manner of abnormal configurations. His work prods the corporeality of human nature, like a lonely bachelor poking at freezer-burned hot dogs thawing in the sink. Bacon treats humanity as though it consists of little more than sacks of misshapen meat. (It’s fitting that some of his paintings share screen space with Michael Keaton’s rapacious, cyborg-building CEO in the new Robocop remake.)

Though the two never worked together, Henry Moore’s figurative sculptures provide a nice counterpoint to Bacon’s work, exploring similar themes in marble and bronze. The AGO’s exhibit calls attention to the aesthetic continuities tying the two artists together. Finally, a chance for anyone sick of beauty to take in a little horror and repugnance!

Here are some photos of the exhibition. It opens on April 5 and runs until July 20.

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Sondra Radvanovsky’s current obsessions: five things the superstar soprano is loving right now

Sondra Radvanovsky's current obsessions: five things the superstar soprano is loving right now

Technically, the virtuosic Verdi soprano lives in Caledon, but she spends 10 months of the year travelling to the Met, La Scala and the Paris Opera. In April, she’ll sing in Toronto for the first time in four years, making her debut in the role of the aging, angry Queen Elizabeth I in the COC’s production of Roberto Devereux, an opera by the Italian composer—and Verdi progenitor—Gaetano Donizetti. We asked Radvanovsky what’s inspiring her, culturally speaking, outside the opera house.

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Miss Piggy—Muppet, diva and gay icon—does a press conference in Toronto

(Image: Andrea Houston)

(Image: Andrea Houston)

Miss Piggy loves being an icon.

Gay icon, diva icon, style icon, feminism icon, journalism icon. You name it. The divine swine is an icon to all. “I am everyone’s icon,” she told a roomful of reporters. “I am an icon to all who will have moi.”

Her fabulousness, star of the new movie Muppets Most Wanted, which opens in theatres on March 21, held court in Toronto on Tuesday, at the front of a third-floor suite in the posh Shangri-La Hotel on University Avenue. At a table (with her puppeteer Eric Jacobson hidden demurely behind a curtain), Piggy bantered with film critic Richard Crouse, who hosted the press conference.

As much as she loves the spotlight, and being adored by fans of all sexualities, don’t expect to see her marching in any Pride parades. “Oh, I don’t march,” she said when questioned by Toronto Life. “I’m always wearing high heels, you know. I get a car wherever I go.” Naturally.

(Perhaps if she were carried through the parade route in a sedan chair held up by two hunky humans, though…)

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Fucked Up debuts a new track

Toronto experimental hardcore outfit Fucked Up has always seemed to be one-upping itself. After winning the Polaris Prize in 2009 for The Chemistry of Common Life (AKA “That Punk Album With Flutes On It”), the group followed up with 2011’s David Comes to Life, a critically lauded, metafictional concept album. Now, instead of attempting to re-up on David’s arty bombast, Fucked Up appears to be returning to its simpler, sweatier hardcore roots.

On “Paper The House,” the new single from the band’s forthcoming Glass Boys (due June 6 via Arts & Crafts), Fucked Up serves up a stirringly old-school punk banger, albeit one that seems to underline the band’s cresting into veteran status. “The way I make a living is driving me insane,” hollers frontman Damian Abraham over the song’s triple-guitar assault, frankly addressing the anxiety of becoming an old punk.

You can listen to the song above, accompanied by a video that includes footage captured from the band’s recent surprise appearance at the this year’s last Long Winter event at The Great Hall.

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