This week in Toronto: A foul-mouthed puppet, siblings' sweet harmony, and more
- AWW Free School: Extreme Music Therapy
Watch this if: Heavy metal makes you feel light.
The exhibition is on until early June at the Gardiner Museum and, along the way, the museum has programmed free workshops connected to Weiwei, his political activism in China and the art of protest. This week’s speaks to when the artist released his own heavy-metal song, “Dumbass,” after being released from Chinese detainment. Music writer Kim Kitteringham will lead heavy-metal listening exercises inside the museum, followed by a live metal concert. (Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, 6:30 p.m.)
- Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story
Watch this if: You’re still confused, or angry, about what Stephen Harper meant by “old stock Canadians.”
Playwright Hannah Moscovitch discovered her family history shortly after having her first child in 2015, specifically the story of her great-grandparents who escaped pogroms in Romania to come to Canada. At the same time, the Syrian refugee crisis was at a peak in the headlines. Moscovitch’s collaboration with director Christian Barry and musician Ben Caplan to tell the story of Chaim and Chaya Moscovitch is now the musical , which has travelled the world since 2017 and is finally getting its Toronto premiere. (Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 8 p.m., through May 26)
- Cactus Blossoms
Watch this if: You’re up for a little time travelling back to 1962.
Given the close, bright harmonies, old-timey setup and sibling chemistry of this Minnesota duo, a shout-out to forebears the Everly Brothers is pretty much obligatory. But there’s a little more than pure folk revisionism at work. Brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey add enough detours into darker regions to have caught the ears of David Lynch for his reboot. Second LPleans toward the lighter, even gooier end of that spectrum, leaving no doubt they’re in a comfortable headspace at a ’Shoe that fits them nicely. (Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., doors 8:30 p.m.)
- National Canadian Film Day
Watch this if: Your humpday involves some very patriotic binge-watching.
Now in its sixth year, the NCFD gets an enormous bounty of great Canadian movies on every shape and size of screen from coast to coast. And while they have plenty of options on TV and digital platforms, true movie patriots will catch one of the many screenings in venues all over the GTA. That includes the Bata Shoe Museum, which hosts the thought-provoking NFB doc . Comedy fans in the west end may opt for the Humber Cinemas’ showing of , the Kids in the Hall’s much cherished big-screen foray. With dozens more Canadian films on offer there’s no better day to be a hoser cinephile. (Various locations, canadianfilmday.ca)
- Arthur Ellis Awards
Watch this if: You love a good mystery.
Finalists for the Arthur Ellis Awards, which celebrate crime and mystery writing, will be announced after free readings from a range of writers, including M.H. Callway, Lisa de Nikolits, Jennifer Hillier, Ann Shortell, Bill Prentice and others. Other events will be held across the country in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. (Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., 7 p.m.)THURSDAY
- Stranger Still — Songs of Bread, Wine and Salt
Watch this if: You’re celebrating National Poetry Month and you know poetry’s got rhythm …
Composer/guitarist Pete Johnston, vocalists Randi Helmers and Mim Adams, and bass player Rob Clutton preview their album , based on the writings of Nova Scotia poet Alden Nowlan. (House of Anansi Press, 128 Sterling Rd., 6:30 p.m.)
- Nadah El Shazly
Watch this for: A stunning new voice from the Arabic underground.
Amid the sprawling Land of Kush ensemble gig last year at the Aga Khan Museum, El Shazly managed the none too easy feat of standing out thanks to her beguiling vocal trips. The Music Gallery has brought her back for an encore, this time as a solo artist combining that voice with her spacey electronic compositions. Hers is a superior blend of traditional and avant, and with two Land of Kush players joining her here, quite unlike anyone coming through this spring. (Burdock, 1184 Bloor St. W., doors 9 p.m.)FRIDAY
- Une Colonie
Watch this if: Your weekend includes an award-winning coming-of-age flick from Quebec.
A feature debut by Quebec documentary maker Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, scored a big upset at the Canadian Screen Awards when it took Best Film despite being relatively little seen (even by Canadian movie standards). The jury was understandably impressed by this nuanced portrait of a 12-year-old girl as she adjusts to the new world she discovers at her new school. gets its Ontario premiere as part of Cinefranco Quebec Perspective. (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 9 p.m.)SATURDAY
Watch this if: You appreciate underrated crime shows.
This series, now in its fifth season, does its job with the same effective but unflashy determination as its star, Detective Harry Bosch (the always watchable Titus Welliver). He and a solid supporting cast, including a couple of graduates ofsolve crimes and navigate police politics in the non-glamorous parts of L.A. (Amazon Prime Video)SUNDAY
- Hand to God
Watch this if: You don’t already find puppets terrifying.
Robert Askins’ dark comedy was an excitingly curious presence on Broadway in 2015 (and not only because an audience member tried to charge their phone on the set). It’s about the hypocrisy of religion, good and evil, and a coming-of-age story of loss and family, but the villain is a foul-mouthed, perverse sock puppet named Tyrone. Actor Frank Cox-O’Connell has the formidable task of playing both Tyrone and his host, shy teenager Jason, in the season closer at Coal Mine Theatre. (Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth Ave., 7:30 p.m.)