Toronto Events

Radar: Toronto Just for Laughs, A Month in the Country, Rachel, the Scream Literary Festival, Geek Poetry Slam

COMEDY | Toronto Just for Laughs Festival
In the battle to dethrone Toronto as the culture capital of Canada, one thing that Montreal always had going for it was a top notch comedy festival. Unfortunately for residents of La Belle Ville, they can no longer lay claim to being the sole host of Just For Laughs, the annual gathering of international comedic talent whose reruns make up about 80% of the Comedy Network's daytime programming. Since 2007 Toronto has hosted its own version of the festival, and this year's line up includes heavyweights Patton Oswalt, Russell Peters, Louis CK, Brad Garrett (the really tall guy from Everybody Loves Raymond), and groundbreaking comedian/storyteller Mike Birbiglia, whose inventive autobiographical style has become a staple on National Public Radio in the US. With stand-up shows, sketch shows, and high-profile comedy galas being held nightly, no one would dare call this festival second-rate. Sorry mes amis, chalk another one up for Hogtown. Runs til Sunday.
Various venues and prices, check schedule for full details

THEATRE | A Month in the Country
Laszlo Marton, the Hungarian director known for his spectacular modern updates of classic plays, returns to Toronto to direct Soulpepper's production of Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country. Written in 1850 by the Russian master, the play has everything you'd expect from a 19th Century Russian drama; passionate love affairs, cases of mistaken identity, and unpronounceable names. Playing the role Natalya Petrovna, the bored housewife whose life is turned upside down by the arrival a handsome 21-year-old student, is Fiona Byrne, while Diana Bentley does duty as the maid Katya. Previews begin tonight, with the full run extending til August 7.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill Street in the Distillery District, $49.50 - $68.88 General admission, $31.20 Students, Monday to Saturday 8 pm, Matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm

FILM | Rachel
In 2003, an American activist named Rachel Corrie was killed while acting as a human shield to defend a Palestinian home from demolition. Crushed beneath an Israeli army bulldozer, Corrie's death sparked an international incident and prompted widespread calls for an investigation into Israeli actions. What exactly happened that day has never been fully clear, but a new film by French director Simon Bitton goes about as far as anyone could to uncover the truth. Featuring interviews with fellow activists, the Palestinians whose homes she tried to protect, and even the bulldozer driver himself, Rachel is a powerful document about the world's most intractable conflict. Runs til Wednesday.
Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West, $10, 7 pm

BOOKS AND LIT | The Scream Literary Festival
For the next week, the the Scream Literary Festival celebrates the bad boys and girls of writing. Focusing on writers who use their craft to challenge and provoke readers, the festival is now in its 18th year and has lined up a roster of international writers that put the "hip" back in "authorship." Scream kicks off tonight with an evening at the Arts and Letters Club with avant garde American poet David Antin and Steve McCafferey, member of Toronto's legendary sound poetry group the Four Hourseman. Later in the week they present The Scream in High Park, a night of outdoor readings featuring Gil Adamson, Angela Carr, Jeff Derksen, and the Element Choir.
David Antin and Steve McCaffery: Arts and Letters Club, 14 Elm Street, $10 ($5 with original poem), 7 pm
Most events PWYC or free, check schedule for full details

POETRY | Geek Poetry Slam
Live poetry readings aren't exactly the coolest of events that you can attend in this city, but tonight the Toronto Poetry Project is embracing the nerdiness by presenting the Geek Poetry Slam. It's a two-round poetry competition who's only rule is that the poems have to be on topics you geek out to, so if you like improvised verse about Yoda and Chewie, your time has come. The competition is open to all comers, and hosted by slam master Amanda Hiebert.
The Boat, 158 Augusta Avenue, $5, 7 pm

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Photo: "Cookies" by Lemur, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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