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Radar: InspiraTO Festival, Bamako in Toronto, Toronto Festival of Clowns, John Doyle's the World is a Ball, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, Soul in the Cellar

THEATRE | InspiraTO Festival
Maybe it's true what they say about the Internet and television ruining our attention spans. Who's got time these days to sit through a three-hour drama to find out who killed whom, or which Greek hero committed incest with which of his family members. The InspiraTO festival knows that we want our entertainment wrapped up easily digestible packages, that's why no play on their program is more than 10 minutes long. For the past five years the festival has presented the best short dramas Canadian playwrights can concoct, set to the theme of the one of the senses. This year's theme is touch, and the plays are divided into two programs of eight plays: the blueTouch program is mysterious and cool, while the redTouch plays are sexy and hot. The quality of the drama should be high as only 16 plays were selected from 330 submissions, but if you don't like what you're seeing, all you have to do is wait about 9 minutes for something new. This year for the first time, the festival is also holding a ten-day scriptwriting contest. Runs til June 13.
Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, Regular tickets $15, Late shows $10, various times, check schedule for full details

PHOTOGRAPHY | Bamako in Toronto
We in the West have a very distorted view of Africa, probably because most of what we know of the so-called Dark Continent has been pieced together from Live 8 speeches, racist cartoons, and movies starring Morgan Freeman. The Bamako in Toronto exhibit opens at the Gladstone today, giving us a look at Africa through the eyes of three of its hottest photographers in Zanele Muholi of South Africa, Nigeria's Uche Okpa-Iroha, and Saidou Dicko of Burkina Faso. Taking as their subjects South Africa's lesbian community, a group of families living beneath a bridge in Lagos, and the silhouettes of African street life, the three photographers provide a perspective on their countries that is seldom seen in Toronto galleries. The exhibition coincides with Volcano Theatre's The Africa Trilogy, which will open on June 10 as part of the LuminaTO festival's African-themed programming.
Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West, Free, 12 pm - 5 pm

CLOWNS | Toronto Festival of Clowns
Coulrophobics are well-advised to steer clear of the Queen and Dufferin area in the next little while, where Canada's edgiest clowns are gathering for four days of performances, hilarity, and freaking everybody out as part of the Toronto Festival of Clowns. These performers aren't the bozos of days gone by. Acts like Morro and Jasp, Christian Laurin,Meaghan O'Shea, and Melissa D'Agostino (better known as Lupe), aren't interested in balloon animals and big floppy shoes, and you can expect a healthy dose of sex, violence, and social issues in the festival's performances. Mixing cabaret shows with short physical comedy acts, this year's festival also features a Masters of Clown show in which some of today's most seasoned bouffons will talk about their experiences in the clowning business. Runs til Sunday.
Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement, 6 Noble Street, All shows $10 except Masters of Clown ($20), shows start at 6:30 pm daily

BOOKS AND LIT | The eh List: John Doyle's the World is a Ball
The World Cup is a tantalizing eight days away, and billions of fans all over the world are bracing for a month-long spectacle of controversy, miracle, and heartbreak. The outcome of the world's greatest tournament is impossible to predict; a veteran superstar could go insane in the final moments of the biggest game of his life, vital games could be won by a blatant piece of cheating, and if we're lucky we'll see some great soccer in there as well. John Doyle's new book The World is a Ball tells of his experiences with the beautiful game, from his participation in politically charged little league matches in his native Ireland to covering the major international tournaments. Doyle, who is the Globe and Mail's TV critic, comes to the Toronto Reference Library tonight to discuss his book and unwrap the madness and meaning of the world's most popular sport.
Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Free, 7 pm

THEATRE | A Jew Grows In Brooklyn
Jake Ehrenreich's one-man musical comedy about his childhood in Brooklyn has proved so popular that Mirvish Productions is extending its run at the Panasonic Theatre for another ten days. You'd be forgiven for thinking that stories about the hard knocks taken while growing up Jewish in New York are a dime a dozen these days (Woody Allen and Billy Crystal have practically made a career on them), but Ehrenreich's show works from memories unique to his family, who not only had to deal with the shadow of the Holocaust and economic hardship, but heredity early-onset Alzheimer's as well. With over 10,000 tickets to the show already sold, it's clear the funny and heartwarming show's hit a chord with Toronto audiences. Runs til June 13.
Panasonic Theatre, 649 Yonge Street, $20 - $25, Thursday 2 pm and 7:30 pm, Friday 8 pm, Sat 2 pm and 8 pm, Sun 2 pm and 7 pm

PARTY | Soul in the Cellar
Get the weekend started early with this classic jam at Queen West's favourite faux dirty rock bar. DJ Brittney Townson will be spinning the best in motown, soul, funk and 60's rock, heating up the basement at Tattoo Rock Parlour with ass-wiggling basslines and filthy guitar riffs. At $4.75 the drinks are affordable and if you're boss enough to show up with 10 ladies you get a free bottle of something big and intoxicating.
Tattoo Rock Parlour, 567 Queen Street West, $5, 10 pm

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For Toronto movie showtimes, view our Movie Listings section.

Photo: "Untitled" by Danielle W, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.


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