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Radar: Jitters, AIDS Candlelight Vigil, Compose Yourself, Tomson Highway's Kisageetin, Transition Towns, Michael Jackson Charity Tribute Show

THEATRE | Jitters
Trying to stage a successful play is like trying to paint a masterpiece using a hundred-foot long brush being held by thirty people: things get messy very quickly. Luckily, Newfoundland-born playwright David French was able to gain some inspiration from the train wrecks he participated in during the early days of the Tarragon Theatre in the 1970s, eventually penning Jitters as a comic ode to those times when everything that could possibly go wrong went worse than he could have possibly imagined. Using a classic play-within-a-play format, French takes us backstage as a cast of funny, flawed, and sympathetic characters struggle to pull off opening night against the odds. Soulpepper's remount of the modern favourite begins tonight, and is directed by Ted Dykstra with Kevin Bundy in the starring role. Runs til July 24.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill Street in the Distillery District, $29 - $68, 7:30 pm weeknights, 1:30 pm matinees Saturday and alternating Wednesdays

COMMUNITY | AIDS Candlelight Vigil
Before kicking off the massive celebration of all things queer that is Pride next week, the Church Street community is pausing tonight for a more somber gathering to honour those among them who have died of HIV. The number of people who have died from HIV and related illnesses in Toronto has declined steadily over the past few years, yet 18,000 people in this city are currently living with HIV/AIDS, and each day two more people are infected. Around the world the disease continues to claim 2.5 million lives each year and is still the most serious health threat facing the global community. The vigil tonight welcomes all those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, either personally or through the loss of a loved one, and anyone who'd like to show their support.
Cawthra Sqaure Park, 519 Church Street, 9 pm

MUSIC | Compose Yourself
Tonight the Music Gallery gathers together a group of non-musical artists and athletes to compose brand new music right before your eyes. Working from the theory that if Miley Cyrus can do it anybody can, ex-Maple Leaf Boyd Devereaux, psychogeographer Shawn Micallef, legendary visual artist Charles Pachter, filmmaker John Greyson, author Kerri Sakamoto, and Toronto Dance Theatre's Christopher House, who heretofore have never exhibited musical ability, will direct a band of all-star improvisers to create their own compositions. If you've ever dreamed of making music but can't tell the difference between a quarter note and a quarter-pounder, a guest composer spot will be auctioned off to one of the members of the audience during the performance. The event is a fundraiser for the Music Gallery, the innovative music centre that has colonized the stunning space at the St. George the Martyr Church.
The Music Gallery, 197 John Street, $50, special $20 artist/student rate at the door, 8 pm

THEATRE | Tomson Highway's Kisageetin
The music of Tomson Highway has been described as similar to that of theatre music greats like Kurt Weill and Cole Porter, except that all of Highway's songs are written in his native Cree. For three decades Highway has been a strong aboriginal voice on the Canadian arts scene, but is best known for his work as a playwright and author rather than as a songwriter. Produced by the Thunderbird Centre, his new project is a collection of twelve songs that tell the story of a postal worker in a small village who develops the clairvoyant ability to read the townspeople's letters without opening them. I assume she later gets a job with the Chinese government. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Juno Award-winning saxophonist Christopher Plock and Peruvian-Canadian vocalist Patricia Cano. Runs til Sunday.
Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Opening night $75, Regular $25, Thursday to Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 1 pm

COMMUNITY | Transition Towns
As if we needed any more convincing, the BP Oil Spill is prime evidence that we need to break our dependence on fossil fuels before we ruin something really valuable, like the Pacific Ocean or our children's future. Transition Towns is an initiative that began in the UK that offers a practical system for getting your community to lessen its dependence on oil and reduce its carbon emissions. Far from the radical, self-righteous hippy types (see if you can spot any in Toronto during the G20!), organizers behind the program are wisely working firmly within the bounds of what's possible rather than what's ideal, and they've actually seen some results from their well-designed plans. There are now 15 Transition Towns in Canada, and tonight sustainable technologies researcher Andrew Knox will be speaking about how to turn Toronto into one of the first Transition Town on a megacity scale.
Northern District Library, 40 Orchard View Boulevard, Rm 200, $10, 7 pm

MUSIC | Michael Jackson Charity Tribute Show
How can it have been a year since Michael Jackson died? It seems like only yesterday that I sat crying in front of the TV watching CNN's coverage, naked except for one white glove on my right hand. Some of us are still in mourning, but if you can make the tears stop for long enough, come down to the El Mocambo tonight where a line up of local artists will be paying tribute to the King of Pop with live renditions of his greatest hits. Performers include 2004 Canadian Idol runner up (!) Craig Sharpe, Everything That's Fly, and Mindbender. Donations of canned goods will be accepted at the door on behalf of Serving Charity.
El Mocambo, 464 Spadina Avenue, $10, $8 with canned good, 8 pm

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