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Today in Toronto: And Slowly Beauty and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

And Slowly Beauty After an unassuming desk drone goes to see Chekhov’s Three Sisters, elements of the play—its characters, their battle with boredom and unhappiness— begin to infiltrate his life, forcing him to make a change. Find out more »

 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra This institution, despite its notorious sexism—no women were admitted until 1997, and very few are there even today—still rates among the world’s best symphonies, particularly for its lustrous string sound. Find out more »

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of February 22 to 24

The show floor at The Artist Project (Image: Courtesy The Artist Project)

In this edition of The Weekender: a legendary South African musical group, a double bill from hot young playwright Hannah Moscovitch and three more things to do in Toronto.

ART
The Artist Project

Over 250 painters, sculptors, photographers and multimedia artists are participating in this year’s edition of the annual juried art fair, which begins tonight with an opening night party. In addition to plenty of opportunites to score contemporary works from emerging artists, there are also talks on topics like art as an investment and docent-led tours of the show floor. $15–25. February 21–24. Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, 195 Princes’ Blvd., theartistprojecttoronto.com

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Today in Toronto: Hannah Moscovitch Double Bill

Hannah Moscovitch Double Bill A two-for-one from Tarragon’s always-remarkable playwright in residence. Little One follows a pair of adopted siblings whose love for one another is fraught, to say the least, while Other People’s Children,which gets its premiere here, examines the startling bond that forms between a baby and her nanny—to the distress of the mother. Find out more »

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The List: 10 things playwright Hannah Moscovitch can’t live without

The celebrated playwright is premiering a new double bill at the Tarragon Theatre this month. Here, the 10 things she can’t live without

The List: Hannah Moscovitch

1 | My guiltiest pleasure
A few years ago I was a writer on the CBC radio show Afghanada. One of the characters loved the mixed martial arts star Georges St-Pierre, so I had to watch a lot of UFC for research. I got hooked. I like to watch a match before bed.The List: Hannah Moscovitch

2 | My lucky jacket
I was hit by a car at Dundas and Ossington in 2006, and I nearly died—the doctors still don’t know how I survived. I had this jacket on, and I think it saved me from getting too ripped up.

3 | My podcasts
I listen to a lot of podcasts and university lectures on iTunes. My favourites are the history and science-y ones, like Philosophy Bites or Big Ideas. They give me a chance to learn about neurology or why ants travel in packs or the psychology of death—I just really like information.

4 | My coffee shop
The List: Hannah MoscovitchJimmy’s Coffee is right around the corner from my condo. I go there to work most days.
I started inviting all the baristas to my plays, just so they could see what all my typing and mumbling was about. And one came!

5 | My laptop
I used to have PCs, but they kept crashing. One time I was on tech support and I was yelling at the guy, and he said I should just get a Mac. So I did. And I discovered that all writers have Macs.

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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

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Best of Fall 2012: Michael Healey on mounting his controversial play Proud

Playwright Michael Healey mounts his own production of Proud, the savage political satire that sparked a storm in the city’s theatre world

Best of Fall 2012:  Michael Healy

With Proud, you found yourself at odds with the Tarragon Theatre, where you were playwright-in-residence. They refused to put it on due to concerns about potential libel, so you resigned. Do you miss being there?
The Tarragon was a great home for me. And it’s extremely chilly out here. For a dozen years I would write a play and nobody would tell me what kind of a play I should be writing, and when I was done, I could hand it over and reasonably expect somebody to put it on. That position is completely unique in Canadian theatre. I do miss it.

You’ve decided to take on the role of the Stephen Harper–like prime minister in Proud. You previously played George W. Bush. You seem to be into power.
I really am. You can ask my wife and two-year-old twins how I wield power around our house—and how they completely disregard me.

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Spotlight: theatrical virtuoso Daniel MacIvor exposes a bitterly funny slice of life in Was Spring

Daniel MacIvor
In Toronto’s occasionally precious theatre scene, Daniel MacIvor is like a pit bull in a 
Japanese paper shop, joyfully shredding his surroundings and refusing to stay put. Though the 49-year-old playwright-actor-director made his name with intense one-man shows like Monster and House, he has resisted settling into any particular niche. Whatever genre or form he throws himself into, he unleashes dialogue that is caustic, clever and often bitterly comical. He doesn’t avoid politics or grand ideas, but his preferred territory is the tragic farce of our dysfunctional humanity—his plays would be crushing if they weren’t so funny. In Was Spring, premiering at Tarragon this month, MacIvor takes a mordant look at three generations of women as they hash out long-held grievances. His characters say truly terrible things to each other, but their salty, muscular language is tempered by a kind of understanding. Even when they’re fighting, which they almost always are, they get one another on a cellular level. Was Spring is one of a group of MacIvor plays about motherhood that includes 2010’s Communion—he is the rare male playwright who does not shy away from telling women’s stories. Next month, MacIvor takes on a new challenge, making his Stratford Festival debut with The Best Brothers, about a pair of siblings who inherit their mother’s dog following her demise. Death, family squabbling and an unwanted dog—sounds like perfect MacIvor material.

THEATRE
Was Spring
Tarragon Theatre
Extra Stage
April 4 to May 6

(Image: Kourosh Keshiri)

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The one thing you should see this week: love, sex and “paroxysms” in a titillating comedy of manners

Trish Lindström, David Storch, Elizabeth Saunders and Melody A. Johnson (Image: Cylla von Tiedemann)

This week’s pick: In the Next Room or the vibrator play at Tarragon Theatre

Sarah Ruhl is a darling of the New York stage—she won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006, and her latest play, the Noël Coward–esque Stage Kiss, is currently playing to raves on Broadway. In the Next Room, which premiered in 2009, steps back from some of the lofty, epic scope of her previous work and zeroes in on the quotidian world of the Victorian drawing room—and the quivering loins lurking therein.

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Tuesday’s Luminato picks: Andromache, Raj Kapoor and David Ben’s Natural Magick

Arsinée Khanjian and Christopher Morris in Andromache

The fifth edition of Luminato, the city’s annual everything-culture fest, kicked off last Friday and goes all through the week. Here, three events to check out today.

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The Weekender: Jane’s Walk, Toronto Comic Arts Festival and six other can’t-miss events

CCTV, DJ Woody and Abel Boulineau

1. JANE’S WALK (FREE!)

Inspired by urban writer/activist Jane Jacobs, this festival of walking tours, led by Toronto-loving volunteers, is all about seeing the city with new eyes. With over 170 walks to choose from, we’ve narrowed our selection down to three: (Video) Eyes on the Street, U of T prof Andrew Clement’s exploration of the downtown core’s CCTV cameras; a gentrification-focused tour of Cherry Beach; and the cultural studies pick, A Hipster’s Guide to Ossington. May 7 and 8. Various locations, janeswalk.net.

2. KARDINAL OFFISHALL (FREE!)
Kardi’s made some headway south of the border, signing with Akon’s Konvict label and recording with chart toppers like Estelle and David Guetta, but he’s still a hometown boy. Proof? This free concert in Yonge-Dundas Square, part of Coke’s 125th anniversary celebrations. And last year’s “The Anthem” of course. May 7. Yonge-Dundas Square, icoke.ca.

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Just-announced Harold Green theatre lineup includes Eugene Levy and Mandy Patinkin

From Fiddler on the Roof to Purim pageants, there’s no denying that performance has a vital role to play in Jewish culture. Since 2006, the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company has capitalized on that tradition, allowing Toronto’s Jewish theatre scene to thrive. The group has just announced its fifth season, and it’s a pretty impressive lineup, with boldface names like Hannah Moscovitch, Eugene Levy and Mandy Patinkin.

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