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article imageLuminato Festival in full swing until June 19th in Toronto Special

By Bryen Dunn     Jun 14, 2011 in Entertainment
Toronto - Now in its fifth year, Toronto's Luminato Festival combines performance, art, and culture within traditional venues and outdoor spaces. An electic variety of one time only exhibitions are offered throughout the city, many at no cost.
For 10 extraordinary days in June, Toronto’s stages, streets, and public spaces are illuminated with arts and creativity. Now in its fifth year, Luminato is an annual multi-disciplinary celebration of theatre, dance, music, literature, food, visual arts, fashion, film, magic and more. Luminato embraces three key programming principles: collaboration, accessibility, and diversity. "It is hard to believe Luminato is already five years old. We are very proud of what we have accomplished in that time—including the commissioning of almost 50 new works from Canadian and international artists", states CEO Janice Price.
What began as a vision for a few noted individuals in the city has now grown to become one of Toronto's premiere events to look forward to annually. With so much going on, why the need for yet another cultural festival, and what makes Luminato any different from the others? Well, the vast majority of these events are speifically commissioned by Luminato, which means if you don't catch them now, you likely never will have the opportunity again. Here are three picks not to be missed.
This year productions are themed around the idea of storytelling. Artists have long been inspired by stories and images from the past, and the 2011 Festival includes their largest commission to date: a new adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights from acclaimed director Tim Supple. The production is actually split into two parts, each three hours in length, which can be done back to back on the same day or two different days. Performed at the Canadian Opera Company, The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, this monumental work is adapted for the first time by a woman and features 30 artists from the Arab world. The three-sided seating area and large performance stage is more reminiscent of a boxing ring than a theatre, but it works well for the large cast that often appears simultaneously and interchangeably.
Written in Arabic from tales gathered in India, Persia, across the great Arab Empire, the One Thousand and One Nights are the mesmerizing stories told by Shahrazad night after night, under sentence of death, to the king Shahrayar who has vowed to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning. Erotic, brutal, witty, and poetic, the tales tell of the real and supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, rich and poor, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate.The play is scripted in three languages, Arabic, French, and English, utilizing surtitles for translation.
Canada's own Necessary Angel Theatre Company presents Andromache, adapted from Racine’s play by Evie Christie and directed by Scottish director Graham McLaren. The war has ended. The empire has crumbled. The new leader is infatuated with his hostage, the recently widowed Andromache, and demands she give herself to him or sacrifice the life of her son. Is it a drama, tragedy, comedy, or perhaps a combination of all three? For sure, it's an experience like no other. There are actually many similarities to One Thousand and One Nights, such as the powerful portrayal of women in a male dominated environment, achieved not only by wit and intelligence, but also via their manipulation over the male genitalia. As well, the stage set up at The Theatre Centre is encompassed within four-sided seating making if a surround-visual experience from the moment you walk through the doors. With intense, bold, and heightened language, Andromache is an unflinching look at how obsessive lust and the desire for power lead people to do unspeakable acts.
Vodavil is an evening of all-out entertainment, comedian-magician Mike Caveney; mime and magician Tina Lenert; physical illusionist Ardan James; magicians and parodists The Great Tomsoni and Company; and Gaëtan Bloom, master of the absurd, recapture the magic of vaudeville in one of the few remaining venues from that long-ago yet fondly remembered era, the historic Winter Garden Theatre. "Vodavil" was an informal term vaudeville performers used to describe their profession: that hugely popular form of entertainment that flourished in specialty theatres across North America from the 1890s until the 1930s.
Soulpepper Theatre offers audiences an opportunity to see the company’s best work condensed into an intensive repertory program, and there are plenty of free events happening, including film screening, panel discussions, interactive art exhibitions, and a Friday night performance by KD Lang at David Pecaut Square.
Luminato is a charitable, not-for-profit, cultural organization whose vision is to commission and present significant local, national, and international programming that reflects the city of Toronto as a diverse and accessible city that engages domestic and international audiences.
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