Lighters in the Air

Lighters in the Air

It is really and truly summer in Toronto - hot, steamy weather, beer on patios, snatches of music spilling out of bars, arts festivals everywhere. For me, summer is a glorious time, but has a hint of sadness and nostalgia underneath all the sunny fun times. No feeling can ever match the thrill of being a kid on the first day of summer vacation, seeing time unspool in a lazy ribbon into an infinite point in the distance. September seems so far away. As an adult, though, you can’t help but remember other, perfect, past summers and wonder what might have been. 

This week, there’s a show at the Toronto Fringe Festival that combines that nostalgia, yearning, music, bars, and laughs. It’s called Lighters in the Air and it’s the product of musician/writer/actor Kris Hagen. He calls it “not quite a musical, not quite a play, not quite a concept album, and yet at the same time kind of all three.” It’s a show that defies easy characterization, but whatever else it might be, it’s perfect for right now.

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The Art of Banksy

The Art of Banksy

Some of the best conversations I’ve had are about art - or really, what art is. Is it a framed painting of dogs playing poker? A multi-million dollar canvas that’s nothing but three stripes of solid colour? Anonymous street art? How about street art credited to the world’s most famous underground celebrity? Is Banksy’s graffiti art?

Banksy is the street name of an anonymous graffiti artist who has built up an unlikely empire of cheeky, anti-establishment pieces. His earliest and best-known pieces are stencilled onto walls on city corners in Bristol, England, but very soon he expanded into selling screenprints and canvasses. The sale of those prints funded more ambitious projects - wildly popular shows in the UK and US, collaborations with musicians, performance art pieces  - and now Banksy is well-known for huge, satirical installations, like Dismaland (the most miserable place on earth) and the Walled Off Hotel (a hotel with the “worst view in the world,” looking over the Israeli-Palestine border.) There are a few Banksy pieces scattered around Toronto, but if you’re interested in seeing more than eighty pieces in a funky, industrial setting, you can head over to 213 Sterling Road and the retrospective, The Art of Banksy

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Annie - Theatre Review

Annie - Theatre Review

The beloved family musical, Annie is now playing on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

As a child, I had enjoyed the movie and would belt out classics like, Tomorrow and It’s a Hard Knock Life, much to the annoyance of my family. I was eager to see the musical and it was an absolute delight.

Annie is a precocious twelve-year old orphan, who lives with other mischievous little girls in and the evil Miss Hannigan in a derelict orphanage. When she is invited to spend two weeks at the mansion of billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, her whole life, and his completely changes.  

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Toronto Art Exhibitions: Infinity Mirrors and The Riverbed

Toronto Art Exhibitions: Infinity Mirrors and The Riverbed

Unless you’ve been living in a state of complete media isolation over the last few months, you must be aware of the huge exhibit currently on at the Art Gallery of Ontario - Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. It is everything it is hyped up to be: both vast and intimate, immersive and spectacular. But you may not be aware of another show that is just as intriguing. Yoko Ono’s The Riverbed at the Gardiner Museum is smaller in scale but more interactive, less solitary and more introspective, micro where Kusama’s is macro. I visited both shows recently and found, despite some huge contrasts in the physical art itself, more similarities than differences. They are, after all, both shows that ask you to consider your place in the universe and in society. Kusama and Ono invite you to think about both the solitude and the kinship of being people. You will not come out of either experience quite the same. 

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Fun Home - Theatre Review

Fun Home - Theatre Review

Growing up is weird, isn’t it? When you’re a kid, going off to college seems so grown up and far away. Then suddenly you’re a real adult, looking back at your freshman year and cringing at your awkwardness and naiveté. Or you might look back at your shiny, happy childhood memories and see a darker truth behind them, and start to question everything. And if you’re a noted writer and illustrator like Alison Bechdel, you put it all in a graphic novel called Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy, that gets adapted into a five-time Tony Award winning musical that’s part coming-of-age story and part family drama, with a bit of levity and lot of great music mixed in.

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