A Fringe fest, an acrobatic Avatar circus and six other things to do this week
About Face, a weird and wistful portrait collection
This playfully named portraiture exhibition features 11 artists’ works from the past century. A candid shot of segregation in the South by Life photographer Gordon Parks hangs alongside trippy neoclassical portraits by Toronto artist Stephen Appleby-Barr. Also included in the show: Yousuf Karsh’s masterful black-and-white pictures of politicians and world players, and Toronto artist Matthew Schofield’s hazy, Polaroid-like renditions of throwback birthday parties and family outings. Thursday, January 7 to Saturday, January 30. Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St. W., metiviergallery.com.
Next Stage, a line-up of reworked Fringe hits
This 12-day fest gives Fringe artists the chance to expand and perfect—or entirely reimagine—their work. This year’s lineup includes the western murder mystery Blood Wild; All Our Yesterdays, the story of two girls kidnapped by Boko Haram; and From Judy to Bette: The Stars of Old Hollywood, a diva tribute from actor and singer Rebecca Perry. Wednesday, January 6 to Sunday, January 17. $12–$15. Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., fringetoronto.com.
An acrobatic Avatar spin-off
Toruk, the new show from Cirque du Soleil, is a prequel to James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar, set 3,000 years before the film on the planet of Pandora. In the fictional language of Na’vi, the name refers to a giant predatory airborne creature—but you don’t really need a backstory to appreciate the spellbinding spectacle of 35 blue-skinned acrobats flying through the air against an elaborate, inflatable set. Thursday, January 7 to Sunday, January 10. $35–$130. Air Canada Centre, 50 Bay St., cirquedusoleil.com.
Within the Glass, a donor-baby drama
When a fertility clinic mishap impregnates a woman with the wrong couple’s egg, two would-be pairs of parents clash over the fate of the unborn baby, dropping dramatic truth-bombs about relationships and parenthood along the way. Dora-nominated director Andrea Donaldson helms this new work by Tarragon playwright-in-residence and multidisciplinary artist Anna Chatterton. Wednesday, January 6 to February 14. $55–$60. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., tarragontheatre.com.
Twenty-five years of Tea Party rock with front man Jeff Martin
The Tea Party front man is known for grandiosity. In interviews, he boasts of his progressive rock band’s legacy and his own guitar-playing chops. Onstage, he backs the bragging up with effortless shredding. Perhaps it’s all that hubris that keeps him going: with his band and on his own, he’s released more than a dozen albums in the past 25 years, and his animated live shows are a testament to years spent on the stage. Thursday, January 7. $25. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., ticketfly.com.
Gary Clement’s stark landscape art
The National Post’s long-time cartoonist drew inspiration from recent trips to Algonquin Park and northern Labrador when creating Nature Boy, his new series of large-scale drawings and paintings. They’re Canadian landscapes like you’ve never seen them: stark, grim and pulsing with the same dark sense of humour that informs his political illustrations. Saturday, January 9 to Sunday, January 24. Loop Gallery, 1273 Dundas St. W., loopgallery.ca.
The best Canadian films of 2015
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival celebrates the best of contemporary Canadian cinema with 10 feature-length screenings in as many days. The 2016 lineup includes the TIFF hit Hurt, Alan Zweig’s documentary about the troubled life of runner Steve Fonyo, and Into the Forest, an apocalyptic drama starring Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page as sisters. Apart from the main event, the festival includes 10 short and student films, Q&A sessions, and other programming. Friday, January 8 to Sunday, January 17. $10–$20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.
A night of piano perfection by Canadian master Marc-André Hamelin
He’s one of the world’s most legendary pianists, capable of casual technical brilliance and profound interpretation. This program’s highlights: Liszt’s reverentially melodic “Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude” and “Venezia e Napoli,” a selection from the composer’s Années de pèlerinage. Mozart’s Sonata No. 18 and Schubert’s Sonata No. 21—both composers’ final works in the genre—give this program a valedictory poignancy. Tuesday, January 5. $50–$55. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E., music-toronto.com.