What do Amal Clooney, George Harrison, and a theatre company banned in Belarus have in common? Snap up tickets for this year’s Luminato Festival and find out when it arrives in Toronto early next month. The 12th annual presentation of the summer festival combines politics and performing arts in a newly expanded 19-day program that addresses questions about equality, justice, and human rights.
“Over the course of the past year, vital discussions have erupted around the world,” said Luminato artistic director Josephine Ridge. “As a festival of ideas and creativity, I believe it’s important for Luminato to engage with those discussions and to offer a program that connects the voice of the artist with the conversations.”
Here are just some of the events that will be taking place across the city.
In A Conversation With Amal Clooney, the renowned international human rights lawyer joins veteran journalist (and her father-in-law) Nick Clooney, to discuss the most pressing human rights issues facing the world today.
June 22, Roy Thomson Hall, $35-$500
At the Illusionist’s Table melds history, mystery, and gastronomy for an intimate evening in a secret dining room tucked away inside historic Casa Loma. Guests won’t believe their eyes, ears, or taste buds as candles flicker and whisky flows.
June 7-24, Casa Loma, $225 (includes a 3-course dinner)
Swan Lake/Loch na hEala is a contemporary adaptation of the most famous ballet in the world, set to traditional Nordic and Irish music, with visceral effect.
June 6-10, Bluma Appel Theatre, from $39
Burning Doors, named one of the 10 best theatre pieces of 2017 by The New York Times, is a provocative production from Belarus Free Theatre (the only theatre in Europe currently banned by its own government on political grounds) and Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina. It tells the tales of persecuted artists and their campaign for artistic freedom and human rights around the globe.
June 20-24, Canadian Opera Company’s Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, from $64
Visit All Strings Attached to see genre-defying composer Ólafur Arnalds and his uniquely wired ensemble, where a proprietary algorithm allows him to control two self-playing pianos, acting as one.
June 24, Elgin Theatre, from $49
Game Changers: Inspiring Women is a six-film documentary series celebrating international icons, unsung heroes, and all the revolutionary women who changed the rules in politics, art, civil rights, and beyond. Check out the now-classic, Truth or Dare on the big screen, featuring Madonna at the peak of her pop culture reign on the Blond Ambition World Tour. Or watch Bhutto, the candid story of the first female leader of an Islamic nation and a woman who believed in freedom for her country
June 9-16, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, $11.50
The feminist theme continues at No Going Back: Future Feminism, a town-hall meeting featuring artists and activists’ views on the future of feminism.
June 9, MacMillan Theatre, free (reserve a seat online)
And, just in case you thought we forgot the boys, there’s 50 Song Memoir, a two-night multimedia concert from singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields) and While 100 Guitars Gently Weep, a concerto for Beatles guitarist George Harrison, by Montreal composer-guitarist Tim Brady, featuring (you guessed it) 100 electric guitars and hundreds of ukuleles.
50 Song, June 22: Songs 1-25, June 23: Songs 26-50, Elgin Theatre, from $39
100 Guitars, June 16, Brookfield Place, free
Luminato runs from June 6 to 24. For more info visit luminatofestival.com.