Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
Jun 15, 2012
02:00 PMTalk about Arts
Letter from Toronto #3: Odds & Sods
(Note: This is the third in a series of reports from the Luminato Festival and other events in Toronto by Spree writer Ron Ehmke and photographer Don Kreger.)
Not everything in Luminato fits the themes I’ve suggested earlier. Here are a few other highlights from Week One; note that some of these, along with a host of other offerings, are still around for several more days, so consider a day trip this week or weekend. And if you miss them this time around, there’s always next year.
•La Belle et la Bête: A Contemporary Retelling: This English-language version of a play developed in French by Montreal theater artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon is packed with how-the-hell-did-they-do-that special effects: live performers appear and disappear as if by magic, and more than half the cast (including a large white horse) are holograms. The stagecraft is dazzling and the insight into the original fairytale illuminating, but once the spell wears off, neither of these achievements is quite enough to make a fully compelling show. (Note to parents: This is not the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast,” and both the language and the pacing are adult. Leave the kids at home.)
The “Windscape” in David Pecaut Square; photo: Don Kreger
•Free concert series: The emphasis here is on world music past and present, with Week One performances by rapper K’Naan, ska pioneer Ernest Ranglin, calypso queen Calypso Rose, Ethiopian jazz-by-way-of-Boston from Debo Band, and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, among others. Still to come: harpist Loreena McKennitt, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Cuban rapper Telmary, Kathleen Edwards, Balkan music from Shantel & the Bucovina Club Orkestar, and many more. (Here’s a free streaming playlist to give you an idea.) In keeping with Luminato’s emphasis on blending art forms, all 26 free concerts and additional related events unfold amidst a gigantic installation by Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects of orange windsocks that respond to the music.
“The Future of the Avant-Garde” panelists (l-r) Mark Russell, David Adjmi, Young Jean Lee, and Richard Maxwell; moderator Hilton Als; photo: Don Kreger
•The New Yorker at Luminato: A sort of mini-festival within the larger one, this daylong extravaganza included appearances by Annie Proulx, Calvin Trillin, and Adam Gopnik, along with a panel of playwrights, directors, and curators on “The Future of the Avant-Garde” that began and ended with the panel insisting that the term “avant-garde” no longer applies to anything, asking instead “Why theater now?” and coming up with several compelling and very personal responses.
And finally, an event that was not part of Luminato but couldn’t be missed by folks heading into Beauty and the Beast, appropriately enough: Woofstock, billed as “North America’s largest festival for dogs,” which filled St. Lawrence Market with stands offering everything the pampered pooch could possibly want, from homebaked treats to bespoke tutus. Envision a space at least the size of the Allentown Art Festival, only catering entirely to canines and their human companions. Doglovers may well want to plan a visit next June, or check out “Winter Woofstock” November 17-18.
Woofstock; photo: Don Kreger