BY CRAIG MOY
JUNE 6 TO 15 You may have heard: Toronto has a reputation as a buttoned-down sort of burg, its residents cocooned in condos and cubicles. “Hogwash!” shout Hogtown’s hordes. We may be slow to warm up—particularly after a long, cold winter—but we’re hardly frigid. Just look at Exhibit A: the 10-day orgy of theatre, dance, film, music and literature that is the Luminato Festival.
The event’s eighth edition is set to be its most stimulating so far, organized as it is around the theme of sex. Common and creative sense, then, tell us to leave our stuffed shirts at home (or, at least, in our hotel room). The festival’s centrepiece performances are best experienced with an open heart and open mind:
• In Green Porno, carnality in the animal kingdom is explored in perhaps the most desirable way possible: it’s Isabella Rossellini, you see, live on stage, who leads us uninhibited into the “zoological boudoir.”
• The complexity of human coupling—physical, emotional, psychological—has long been a central metaphor of dance, particularly in the works of acclaimed German choreographer Pina Bausch. Her seminal Kontakthof is being performed in Toronto for the first time since its creation more than 30 years ago.
• For those seeking a more straightforward look at relationships, there’s All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, in which a cosmopolitan cross-section of elderly women and men lay bare their erotic histories with wit, pathos and wisdom.
Literal coitus isn’t the only manner of connection that Luminato considers: romance is re-contextualized in If I Loved You, an evening of Broadway duets sung by men and for men—Rufus Wainwright, David Byrne and Glen Hansard among them; artistic provocateur Derrick Ryan Claude Mitchell examines communal dogmas—nationalism, utopianism, “American hysteria”—in his multimedia, multi-genre Paradisiacal Rites; Argentinean director Mariano Pensotti’s Cineastas combines documentary cinema and live theatre to dramatize the interplay between filmmakers’ private lives and their public output.
Of course, this is but a tantalizing glimpse of this year’s festival. Its full body of work, including many mass-appeal concerts, tempting artist talks and more, is exposed online at luminatofestival.com.