The Weekender: Hamlet, Whoopi Goldberg and six other items on our to-do list
Arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet is the classic story of the titular character, a young prince whose back-stabbing uncle Claudius has usurped his father’s throne. Understandably upset by this turn of events, Hamlet Sr.’s ghost pays a visit to his son, encouraging him to avenge his death. This becomes a main source of tension for the remaining acts: Hamlet vs. himself. This dance adaptation, choreographed by Kevin O’Day, stays faithful to its dramatic roots—something is still rotten in the state of Denmark, young Prince Hamlet still can’t make a decision—while O’Day’s raw, physical style gives the performance a contemporary spin. June 1–3, 6-10. $25–$234. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595, national.ballet.ca.
2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG
Aside from a few questionable things she’s said on The View, we’re pretty dedicated fans of comedian, actress, activist and talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg. She’s a member of the ultra-exclusive EGOT club, making her one of only 11 people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Sure, she once starred in a futuristic buddy cop movie with a dinosaur, but nobody’s perfect (she’ll always be Sister Mary Clarence to us). Candid, hilarious and guaranteed to put on a good show, in Unique Lives and Experiences the Whoopster will dish on her career, politics and even menopause. We hope she talks about her role as longtime center square on Hollywood Squares. June 1. $35–$130. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, roythomson.com.
3. PIAZZA ITALIA (FREE!)
It’s not quite the Amalfi Coast in June, but it’s the next best thing. Italian culture is on the radar at this free cultural fest, with live music from Juno-award nominee Michael Occhipinti and blues artist Rita Chiarelli, Italian-Canadian personalities and activities on offer. Those will only be of interest to you if you can tear yourself away from the eats, like pizza and gelato. Yum. June 2. Yonge-Dundas Square, piazzaitaliatoronto.com.
4. TORONTO FESTIVAL OF CLOWNS
This entertaining festival features performances by clowns of practically every stripe. Expect to see bouffons, mimes and everything in between from some of the world’s top clowning talents. May 31-June 3. $10. Pia Bouman School, 6 Noble St., torontofestivalofclowns.com.
5. BIKE MONTH PANCAKE BREAKFAST (FREE!)
Kick off Bike Month—four weeks of events and advocacy that promote the two-wheeled life—with this annual breakfast. Once full, attendees can get their ride safety checked by an expert or wander around the Brick Works farmer’s market. June 2. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., ebw.evergreen.ca.
6. THE POWER OF IDEAS CONFERENCE
This conference has two lofty goals: to motivate young people to become global citizens, and to raise $25,000 to fund mentorship programs. Enjoy listening to speakers like Jane Zhang, who started a company that bridges the gap between charities and the tech sector; Isaac Olowolafe Jr., who established the largest endowment for African Studies at a Canadian university ever when he was only 26; and entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson. To June 2. $40 general admission; $15 ages 16-23. Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W., sipofoundation.com.
This annual festival features a collection of genre-spanning ten-minute plays themed around vision. Each play is categorized by colour—redeye (passion), blue-eye (mystery), yellow-eye (alert) and white-eye (new voices)—and each colour performs six times for a total of 24 unique performances. In a nice little bit of audience participation, spectators can vote for their favourite play and the top two from each colour group will be performed at the finale show next weekend. June 1–10. $12. Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley St., inspiratofestival.ca.
In the Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic this boundary-pushing dance work is based on, Prince Rama is the star. The seventh avatar of the god Vishnu and King Dasharatha’s favourite son, Rama is virtuous, courageous and devoted—basically, the perfect man. But in this feminist retelling of the Ramayana, Sita, Rama’s wife, takes centre stage. In this remount of Indian dance great Menaka Thakkar’s acclaimed early 90s production, Sita’s (Neena Jayarajan) story feels both modern and universal. To June 2. $30–$35 ($15 for students and $25-28 for seniors). Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 207 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.