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Luminato’s What You Won’t Do For Love runs from June 9 to 19.Luminato

Luminato Festival Toronto is returning in earnest this week after a couple of pandemic-reduced editions – and it really feels like a proper reboot of the interdisciplinary arts event.

There’s that tweaked new name that, hey, actually makes clear where the festival that was originally designed to lure tourists to town takes place. Then, there’s the fact that it’s now fully under the guidance of artistic director Naomi Campbell, who was appointed to that post in 2018 but, at first, had to fulfill plans laid down by predecessors.

And while this edition of Luminato – which runs from June 9 to 19 – is of modest size compared with some of the ones in the past, that only means the festival can really demonstrate what its top priorities are. Here are three highlights from the enticing 2022 lineup.

In the Wake of Progress

The world premiere of In the Wake of Progress is a free public event that features a mix of photos and film.Luminato

June 11 and 12

The renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky goes larger format than ever by taking over the immense screens of Yonge-Dundas Square with this cinematic cri de coeur about the climate crisis.

The world premiere is a free public event that features a mix of photos and film, accompanied by a score by Phil Strong, and tells “the epic tale of humanity’s impact on the planet”; it cycles through every 30 minutes from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, briefly turning an ad-filled square that celebrates consumerism 24 hours a day into a place to ponder its effects. Later, an immersive (and ticketed) version will be available to tour at the Canadian Opera Company’s headquarters from June 25 to July 17.

What You Won’t Do For Love

What You Won’t Do For Love brings environmental activists and life partners David Suzuki and Tara Cullis on stage with a younger real-life couple, Miriam Fernandes and Sturla Alvsvaag, to discuss how to we might extend the love we have for one another to the planet.Luminato

June 9 to 19

This piece of reality theatre from the acclaimed Why Not Theatre company brings environmental activists and life partners David Suzuki and Tara Cullis on stage with a younger real-life couple, Miriam Fernandes and Sturla Alvsvaag, to discuss how to we might extend the love we have for one another to the planet. This project, directed by Ravi Jain, was on my list of “theatrical experiences to look forward to in 2021 (that will happen one way or another)” – and well, I’m relieved its finally happening live, since I said it would, albeit a year later than I expected.

Woodbine Weekend

During Woodbine Weekend, you’ll not only find an exciting mix of musical groups from around the world playing at this free two-day event, but you’ll also stumble upon theatre and art on the same site.Luminato

June 18 and 19

Festivals love to proclaim they are interdisciplinary – but many festival-goers nevertheless silo themselves, attending only music, dance or theatre events or art exhibitions. What excites me about Luminato’s Woodbine Weekend is that you’ll not only find an exciting mix of musical groups from around the world playing at this free two-day event – such as Eurovision folktronica contenders Go_A from Ukraine, and violinist/singer Sudan Archives from the United States – but you’ll also stumble upon theatre (Necessary Angel’s audio drama The Great Fire) and art (Oluseye Ogunlesi’s installation Black Ark) on the same site.

While I’ve visited the Festival TransAmériques in Montreal (which ends this week) many times over the years, I’ve never made it to Carrefour international de théâtre, its sister festival in Quebec City that takes place at roughly the same time each year.

The two festivals usually share some of the same programming – and, indeed, you can catch up on shows that were just making waves in Montreal such as on Holoscenes, an incredible sequence of underwater performances, and The History of Korean Western Theatre, a documentary theatre performance that explores how South Korea became awash with Shakespeare, in the Quebec capital this week.

Other performances worth catching at the Carrefour before it concludes on Sunday include Contes et Légendes, a new piece about adolescence from the freaky French playwright and director Joël Pommerat, and Cliff Cardinal’s As You Like It: A Radical Retelling, a surprising show I wrote about at the end of last year.

Just because the pandemic is on the wane doesn’t mean digital performance is done for.

FOLDA (a.k.a. the Festival of Live Digital Arts based out of Kingston) was supporting this emerging artistic practice before, and continues to do so now – with the latest edition running June 8 to 11.

Intriguing works on the bill includes a new VR version of You Should Have Stayed Home, Tommy Taylor’s performance about the disturbing events that took place during G20 in Toronto in 2010.

Nova Scotia’s Eastern Front Theatre kicks off a jam-packed edition of its Stages Theatre Festival today. Running only through June 12, the lineup includes Cyrano de Bergerac, in a 50-minute street-theatre version, and #IAmTheCheese, a up-to-date adaptation of Robert Cormier’s 1977 young-adult novel I Am The Cheese, by Dartmouth playwright Josh MacDonald.

I’ve just got back to Toronto from three days at the Stratford Festival – and you’ll find my reviews of Hamlet and Richard III (and the musical Chicago) online.

But Stratford, Ont., isn’t the only place in Canada to see Shakespeare in the summer, of course. Bard on the Beach in Vancouver is back, at last, this week with A Midsummer Night’s Dream (June 8 to Sept. 24) directed by Scott Bellis, while Winnipeg’s Shakespeare in the Ruins is up and running again as of last week with an Ann Hodges-directed production of Much Ado About Nothing (to July 2).

This week, I’m hanging around Toronto to catch some of those Luminato events mentioned at the start of this newsletter. I’m also reviewing the world premiere of Fatuma Adar’s new musical Dixon Road, on at the High Park Amphitheatre (through June 19); and the latest revival of that huge Canadian hit 2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (through July 17). Look for my reviews later this week and early next week.

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