See Shad before he becomes a CBC star, hang out with Laverne Cox and eight other things to do this week
Watch the new host of CBC’s Q in his natural element
Two weeks ago, Shad was selected as the new host of Q on CBC Radio. Before he takes over, he’s finishing a victory-lap concert tour for his 2013 album, Flying Colours, which earned a Juno nomination and a spot on the Polaris Prize short list. It’s a collection of freewheeling, retro rap tracks about the immigrant experience, race and colonialism under a cloak of fast rhymes and electro beats. March 27. $19. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.
Learn physics with a playwright
Hannah Moscovitch is one of Toronto’s most prolific young playwrights, known for incisive, juicy dramas about family secrets and betrayals. She returns to her Tarragon Theatre home base with the world premiere of Infinity, a dramedy that follows a young mathematician seeking a formula for love by examining her parents’ relationship. It’s sweet, sly and scientifically legit—Moscovitch vetted the script with Lee Smolin, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. March 25 to May 3. $27–$55. Tarragon Theatre Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827, tarragontheate.com
See Laverne Cox outside her prison scrubs
The undisputed breakout star of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is Laverne Cox, who is gutsy, tart and endlessly watchable as the trans prisoner Sophia Burset. This week, at the Elgin Theatre, Cox will speak about her childhood in the deep South, her transition to womanhood and the way race and class seep into transgender issues. The event is sold out, but a block of free tickets will be available at the door. March 24. FREE. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., eventbrite.ca.
Catch an Arcade Fire star making his solo debut
Policy, the new album from Arcade Fire co-founder Will Butler is unfocused in the best possible way—a fidgety stew of glittering electro-pop, garage, disco and folk tracks. Butler’s taste in instruments is just as eclectic: he plays bass, synethesizer, guitar and drums, along with more far-flung apparatuses like panpipes, glockenspiel, sitar, musical saw and the Bulgarian gadulka. Here’s hoping he draws from his musical tickle trunk at his Horseshoe show this week. March 27. $16. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 416-598-4226, horseshoetavern.com.
Say goodbye to Terry Pratchett at an east-end tribute
Across the city, enterprising impresarios are transforming derelict storefronts into sparkling new theatre venues. In the east end is Red Sandcastle Theatre, an old pottery studio next to Ed’s Real Scoop in Leslieville that now showcases contemporary plays, storytelling slams and open-mike nights. Its current show, Wyrd Sisters, is a witchy, whimsical fantasy, adapted from a book by the wonderful high-fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, who died of Alzheimer’s earlier this month. March 27 to 29. $20. Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen St. E., 416-845-9411, redsandcastletheatre.com.
Hear a pioneering indie crooner play diners across the city
Twenty years ago, before the city was swarming with solemn singer-songwriters, Hayden was pioneering the sound with expressive lyricism and quiet, heart-on-sleeve melodies. This week, to celebrate the release of his new album, Hey Love, he takes his intimate sound to the next level, performing a series of strummy concerts in greasy spoons across town: Caplansky’s on Monday, Lady Marmalade on Tuesday, Aunties and Uncles on Wednesday. March 24 to 26. Free. Various venues, wasteyourdaysaway.com.
Look back on 20 years of dazzling photography
At his Queen West gallery, the photography savant Stephen Bulger has discovered some of the city’s hottest photography stars and this month, at his 20th-anniversary show, he’ll exhibit one image from each of the 130-plus artists he’s showcased over the years. Look out for photos from local talents like Larry Towell, known for his stark images of the war in Afghanistan, and experimental landscape artist Sarah Anne Johnson. Also of note: archival shots from street photography icons André Kertesz and Vivian Maier (last year, Bulger bought 17,500 of her long-lost negatives). March 24 to April 25. Free. Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen St. W., 416-504-0575, bulgergallery.com.
Examine a priceless collection of Indian artifacts
The contemporary British artist Howard Hodgkin is an avid collector of Indian art. He purchased his first piece at age 14, with his winnings from horse races: it was a 17th-century painting from Aurangabad, India, depicting a wine-soaked garden party. The Aga Khan Museum is showcasing some of the treasures from his collection, with a focus on 16th- to 19th-century works from the Mughal court, the Deccani Sultanates and the Rajput kingdoms. To June 21. $20. Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., 416-646-4677, agakhanmuseum.org.
Check out the season’s buzziest piece of experimental theatre
Jérôme Bel is one of the hottest choreographers in Europe, known for an avant-garde approach that blends dance, performance art and improv. His latest piece, Disabled Theater, stars a troupe of Swiss actors with Down syndrome, who spend an hour onstage revealing who they are, how they feel about their condition and how they see the world. It’s somehow tender yet brash, provocative yet sensitive. March 25 to 28. $35–$45. Fleck Dance Theatre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
See the war in Afghanistan through the eyes of Gertrude Kearns
From 2005 to 2006, the local artist Gertrude Kearns was stationed with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. There, she met dozens of military men and women, capturing them in a series of portraits now on extended display at Fort York. The paintings, which blend comic-book hero tropes, expressionist terror and pseudo-propaganda, are loud, lurid and surreal—Kearns renders the soldiers’ faces with mismatched puzzle pieces, Borg-like computer chips and cartoonish blood spatter to examine how the war has changed them. To June 14. Free with admission. Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd., 416-392-6907, fortyork.ca.