The Weekender: Screemers, Margaret Atwood and five other items on our to-do list
1. I SEND YOU THIS CADMIUM RED
When artist John Berger and filmmaker John Christie originally began corresponding, they discussed the concept of colour. Christie, in London, dropped a swatch of the titular red in the mail, which sparked a prolonged conversation about the colour. Berger, in Paris, jotted down his musings on the hue and sent them back, kicking off a correspondence that consisted of long letters, notes and illustrations. Those missives were turned into a book, a radio play and now this stage show arranged by the Art of Time Ensemble, which combines music by Gavin Bryars and a James Kudelka–choreographed pas de deux. To Oct. 22. $22–$49. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St., 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com.
The easily spooked should definitely avoid this one. The CNE grounds have been transformed into a scare-yourself-silly playground of haunted houses, horror-themed rides and more wandering monsters, creatures and ghouls than is strictly necessary, we think. Movie buffs, check out the new wax museum, which features very lifelike versions of famous movie slashers. Tired parents (and responsible young adults) can relax at the newly built Vampire Lounge, which will be serving libations. Recommended for ages 12 and up. Oct. 14 to 31. $28.50. Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place, 200 Princes’ Blvd., 416-979-3327, screemers.ca.
3. PLANET IN FOCUS
This 12-year-old environmental film fest is focused on landscapes, and the lineup spans genres, including documentaries, family-friendly films, experimental short films and even a romantic comedy. This weekend, check out The Ailing Queen (La Reine malade), about a Québécois beekeeper who’s helping rebuild decimated bee colonies around the world, and the closing night gala screening of The Whale, the Ryan Reynolds–narrated account of a young orca who was separated from his pod and settles in B.C.’s Nootka Sound. To Oct. 16. Movies $5–$22, passes $40–$130. Various locations, 416-599-8433, planetinfocus.org.
4. THE NORMAL HEART
This Larry Kramer–penned play marked a watershed moment in the development of LGBT theatre. Set in New York City in the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic (before it was even called that), the story is autobiographical, following writer/activist Ned Weeks (the author’s stand-in), a gay man who founds a prominent HIV awareness group—only the names have been changed. A Tony Award winner and one of the National Theatre of Great Britain’s 100 plays of the 20th century, this production stars John Bourgeois, Mark Crawford and Paul Essiembre. Oct. 14–Nov. 6. $25–$35. Sundays PWYC (limited quantity, otherwise $30). Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., 416-975-8555, www.artsexy.ca.
5. CRADDOCK LECTURE: MARGARET ATWOOD (FREE!)
Every year, Bloor Street United Church hosts the Craddock Lecture, a talk on modern-day spirituality by a “distinguished guest.” This year’s speaker is author Margaret Atwood, who will discuss the connection between faith and nature, drawing on her own writing (especially 2009’s The Year of the Flood). The talk is part of a more formal church service that includes performances of the original hymns Atwood composed for The Year of the Flood, dancing and a choral arrangement of William Blake’s The Tyger. Guests are advised to show up early, as space is limited. Oct. 16. Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor St. W., 416-924-7439, bloorstreetunited.org.
6. THE BACKYARDIGANS: QUEST FOR THE EXTRA ORDINARY ALIENS
These candy-coloured animal characters aren’t our favourite Nick Jr. show (Yo Gabba Gabba has way better musical guests), but all the toddlers we know love them, so there must be something to Tyrone, Pablo, Uniqua and the rest of the gang. Singing, dancing and imaginary travels to Frozen Toes Mountain, the Hot Footsy Desert and Lost Pirate Island are the order of the day. A second show on the morning of Oct. 14 has been added, with many of the best seats remaining. Oct. 14 and 15. $31.10–$52.85. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.
7. TREEHOUSE TALKS (FREE!)
Starting with this weekend’s lectures, this monthly speaker series moves into a new home—the atrium of the Toronto Reference Library—but the concept remains the same: three speakers expound on three different topics, and according to organizers the Treehouse Group, that yields 1,000 ideas. This month, McMaster University math professor Miroslav Lovric explores the mathematical concept of infinity, philosopher Dr. Aruna Handa discusses the “healthy immigrant effect” and how it relates to food and the promise of a good life in Canada, and artist/game designer Craig Adams talks gaming. Oct. 14. Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., 416-395-5577, treehousetalks.com.