Lunch with Barack Obama, a chat with Ai Weiwei and eight other things to see, do, hear and read this week

Lunch with Barack Obama, a chat with Ai Weiwei and eight other things to see, do, hear and read this week

A deluge of Democrats
The Holy Trinity of the U.S. Democratic Party is bringing their respective hate-to-say-we-told-you-so speaking tours to Toronto this week. First up, Hillary Clinton promotes her tell-all campaign memoir, What Happened, at the Enercare Centre on Thursday, September 28. Next up, Canada 2020 hosts Barack Obama at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Friday, September 29 (you can now snag a ticket for $244, instead of the original $10,000-a-table price tag). And if you’ve still got the capacity for more wistful pre-Trump nostalgia, Bill Clinton hits the Royal York on Tuesday, October 3. Dates and prices vary. Various locations.

6 Degrees, a speaker series with Ai Weiwei
This week, the AGO hosts the 6 Degrees Citizen Space, a speaker series about citizenship and inclusion in our fractured world. The three-day schedule is brimming with excellent panels and talks with Margaret Atwood, Indigenous artist Kent Monkman, Monocle editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson. The highlight is a rare appearance by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, reportedly his first public engagement in Toronto. Monday, September 25 to Wednesday, September 27. From $25. Art Gallery of Ontario.

Photograph courtesy of CBC

The next chapter of Atwood mania
Just months after The Handmaid’s Tale captured the Trump-era zeitgeist, another of Margaret Atwood’s most popular books seizes the small screen. This time, it’s the historical fiction of Alias Grace, adapted by Sarah Polley. Sarah Gadon stars as Grace Marks, a mild-mannered Irish maid who stands accused of double murder in 1840s Richmond Hill. The story should be a good fit for director Mary Harron, who explored crime and infamy in films like American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol. Premieres Monday, September 25. CBC.

A Fringe sleeper’s big-league redux
Last year, it was a buzzy little show at the Fringe Festival. Now, playwright Britta Johnson’s witty, heart-squeezing musical is opening Canadian Stage’s new season. When 16-year-old Alice’s dad, a self-help guru, is killed in a car accident en route to her birthday party, she confronts grief, guilt and family secrets. The expanded version has all the marks of a breakout sensation for the indie composer, with a first-rate cast that includes Dan Chameroy (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical) and Trish Lindström (Once). Thursday, Sept. 28 to Sunday, October 22. $39–$69. Berkeley Street Theatre.

Photograph by Josh White/

A peek into a horror master’s mind
Every inch of Bleak House, Guillermo del Toro’s home in suburban L.A., is occupied by art, artifacts and ephemera that the filmmaker has accumulated over the past decade: Gothic paintings, jarred octopus tentacles, rare comic books, freakishly lifelike mannequins of authors like Edgar Allan Poe, and props from the many films he’s directed, including Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak. This month, 600 of Bleak House’s relics will fill the AGO during the gallery’s del Toro exhibition, At Home With Monsters. Saturday, September 30 to Sunday, January 7. $25. Art Gallery of Ontario.

A hilarious evening with two murder nerds
Serial killers, cannibalism, Ted Bundy—they’re all fodder for Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s surprisingly funny true-crime podcast, My Favorite Murder. The episodes are like wacky group therapy sessions, offering the hosts (and audiences) a goofy outlet for their deepest fears and grimmest obsessions. Saturday, September 30. From $75. Sony Centre.

Photograph courtesy of First Gulf

A design fest in a derelict soap factory
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: a local arts organization takes over an abandoned factory in the Port Lands and throws a wild, one-of-a-kind festival. A year after Luminato hijacked the Hearn Generating Station, the Design Exchange is commandeering the old Unilever soap factory for EDIT, the Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology. The 150,000-square-foot immersive utopia will teem with brainy art installations and exhibitions, like Prosperity for All, which combines the war and disaster photography of Paolo Pellegrin with some of the world’s most innovative design projects, like giant vacuum cleaners that suck up smog in China. Thursday, September 28 to Sunday, October 8. $15. East Harbour.

A night of cringe comedy with Tim and Eric
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have made a career out of finding the humour in the most cringe-worthy of amateurish entertainers, bad public-access TV shows and clichéd Hollywood movies. To mark the anniversary of their signature Adult Swim program, The Awesome Show, Tim and Eric bring their raunchy alt-comedy to the stage. Friday, September 29. From $32. Sony Centre.

Photograph courtesy of the City of Toronto

An all-night art extravaganza
Eighty-five installations wrestle with Canada’s past and future in a 150-themed edition of  Toronto’s starlit art bacchanal. On Dundas, artists will show off works dealing with nationhood and the elusive idea of Canadian identity. Nathan Phillips Square will become a slice of Russia to mark the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. Other dazzling installations will cover Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto campus, while Bay Street will become a surreal space populated by spirits and other supernatural-themed projects. Saturday, September 30. Free. Various locations.

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