Stage Door News

Toronto: Luminato announces its 2019 programming

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

From a larger-than-life mirrored maze and provocative new work by one of Canada’s most renowned puppet masters, to a massive choral event along Toronto’s waterfront and the North American premiere of a reimagined dance classic, the 13th annual Luminato festival lights up the city of Toronto with bold, high-energy, ambitious work from Canada and around the world June 7-23, 2019.

Curated by the recently appointed Artistic Director Naomi Campbell and her predecessor Josephine Ridge, Luminato 2019 will host over 165 Canadian and international artists, stage 6 world premieres, 2 North American premieres, 5 original Luminato commissions and 88 performances in 14 venues across the city.

Says Campbell: “Luminato is proud to present a rich offering of art, ideas and opinions, reflecting the concerns and inspirations of many different voices from around the world; the festival features explosive, inspirational work from Toronto, alongside work by our international colleagues. There is much to explore, from simple good times and transcendent experiences of rich beauty, to complicated conversations about important ideas. We are nothing without our stories and the artists participating in the festival have found new ways to tell them, affecting us and the society where we live and work. I’m so grateful to my predecessor Josephine Ridge for laying the ground work for this incredible lineup of amazing artists, and hope that you will enjoy Luminato 2019 as much as I know I will.

An early programming announcement was made in October unveiling five productions in the 2019 festival: The Full Light of Day, Masquerade, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools and Hell’s Fury: The Hollywood Songbook

Known as Toronto’s international festival of arts and ideas, Luminato is dedicated to presenting an annual festival that cuts across traditional art form boundaries and that celebrates the value of shared experiences.

Luminato is thrilled to reveal the remainder of the 2019 festival program:

Seeing is believing...or is it? Standing over 12.5 feet and weighing over 55 tonnes, House of Mirrors is an awe-inspiring kaleidoscopic maze designed to mesmerize. Created by Australian artistic duo Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney, this reality-bending, sensory-altering reflective wonder will be one of the hottest tickets of the summer as it makes its northern hemisphere debut, taking over Exhibition Common at Harbourfront Centre for all 17 days of the festival this June.

Using Toronto’s picturesque waterfront as a backdrop, Maada’ookii Songlinesbraids together the songs, styles and cultures of 200 diverse voices from eight choirs, four soloists and an ensemble of Indigenous performers from across Toronto. As the sun descends and this free outdoor massive choral event begins lakeside at Harbourfront Centre, audiences will be enveloped in layers of sound coming from the land, water and from high above on the rooftops of the surrounding buildings.  The performance, which culminates in an original composition by Juno Award-nominated cris derksen, serves as a reminder that whatever our backgrounds may be, we all come from the stars.

TD believes in creating shared experiences for people from different walks of life. That’s why, through The Ready Commitment, TD is proud to partner with Luminato to support programs like Maada’ookii Songlines, connecting communities and uniting us all.”

For the first time in North America, one of China’s most prolific choreographers, Yang Liping presents her ambitious new work Rite of Spring. Set to the Igor Stravinsky score of the same name with additional original compositions inspired by traditional Tibetan music, Liping’s choreography breathes new life into the iconic masterwork using ancient Tibetan and Chinese symbols and rituals to illustrate themes of incantation, sacrifice and reincarnation. This limited engagement will take place at the MacMillan Theatre, an intimate space that lends itself well to the intricacies of the stunning costumes, staging and Liping’s breathtaking choreography.

From one of Canada’s most lauded theatre artists, puppet master Ronnie Burkett, comes the highly-anticipated world premiere of Forget Me Not at the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, a provocative call-to-arms for hope, the enduring power of love and the written word. Audiences will be transported to “The New Now” where written words are forbidden, and the underground movement of hand-drawn letters is a powerful act of defiance. Burkett has hand crafted over 100 one-of-a-kind hand puppets so that each audience member can play an active part in this poignant original production. Forget Me Not follows The Daisy Theatre, another original Luminato commission created by Burkett which has successfully toured since its world premiere at the festival in 2013.

30 years after Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, the world still can’t turn away from the visceral and emotional complexity of his influential photographs. For one night only at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) from the USA, explores Mapplethorpe’s uncanny ability to make his viewers question their commonly held beliefs on race, gender, sexuality and politics. Using large-scale projections of some of Mapplethorpe’s famously edgy photographs, with original music by Bryce Dessner (of Grammy Award-winning band The National), poetry by Patti Smith, Korde Arrington Tuttle and Essex Hemphill and the voices of Grammy Award-winning eight-person choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth, Triptych is a bold multi-dimensional examination of one of the most brilliant and provocative visual minds of the 20th century.

At first glance, Kazuo Ohno and Leonard Cohen might seem like an unusual pairing, but their combined genius provides the inspiration behind one of the most dazzling pieces of Colombian contemporary dance, Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen); a spirited homage to the legendary Japanese Butoh dancer and iconic Canadian artist by one of Colombia’s best contemporary dance companies, La Compañía Cuerpo de Indias. Set to some of Cohen’s greatest and most transformative work and illustrated with choreography inspired by the poignant movements of Ohno, Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen)descends upon the Bluma Appel Theatre with four brilliant performances that will captivate, galvanize and enchant audiences, one beautiful and exhilarating tableau at a time.

2018 Womex Professional Excellence Award recipient and visionary, ShoShona Kish, hosts BIZIINDAN! at Koerner Hall, a concert featuring some of Canada’s most well-respected Indigenous artists and activists, culminating in a newly-commissioned, one-night only tribute to the ‘trailblazer of truth,’ Willie Dunn. Dunn, a Mi’kmaq and Scottish award-winning singer/songwriter, filmmaker and activist, was a pioneer of protest ballads and an advocate for Indigenous rights. BIZIINDAN! features 2010 Juno Award-winning band Digging Roots, 2018 Polaris Music Prize-winner Jeremy Dutcher, 2017 Polaris Music Prize-winner Lido Pimienta, singer/songwriter Marie Gaudet and award-winning legendary artist Pura Fe. The concert will conclude with a screening of Canada’s first music video, The Battle of Crowfoot (1968, National Film Board), which was created by Dunn.

In the summer of 2008, five men came together on the basketball court at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst. Religiously, every Monday night, they stayed until the lights turned off. They didn’t come to watch. They came to play. The result? Monday Nights, an interactive basketball clinic/theatre hybrid devised and performed by the same five men. Staged in a found space at 291 Lake Shore Boulevard East, the production highlights how a simple game can help us understand ourselves and connect us to our community. Monday Nights is the second production ofThe Resident’s Project, a partnership between Luminato and The Theatre Centre that provides artists from The Theatre Centre’s Residency Program with an opportunity to further develop past work and present it as part of Luminato. 

The Artport Gallery at Harbourfront Centre will host The Drawing Room, a freevisual arts exhibition of large-scale renderings and sculptures created by five artists. The exhibition continues a dialogue initiated by artist Syrus Marcus Warewhose powerful live drawing exercise during Out the Window at Luminato 2018 depicted victims of police violence. Building on this theme, Ware’s work will be showcased alongside portraits and illustrations by Nathaniel Donnett, Shelley Niro and Robert Pruitt. Sculptures by artist Lesley Loksi Chan will also be featured as part of the exhibition. Each piece in The Drawing Room will highlight the power that portraiture and illustrations can have in initiating important conversations about race, cultural identity, community and representation.

From celebrated Canadian artists John Millard (Composer), Tomson Highway (Lyricist) and Martha Ross (Dramaturg), comes The Cave at Tank House Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts, an intimate, entertaining and urgent response to our changing environment. As a forest fire rages all around destroying everything in its path, the forest’s animals escape to the safety of The Cave. As they wait for the fire to subside, tensions grow and the animals become keenly aware of how centuries of human activity have led to this moment and to the obliteration of their homes. Told from the perspective of the innocents, this powerful new cabaret is a gripping take on the effects of climate change. The June 22 performance of the The Cave will also be livestreamed. 

Celebrate humanity as one village with KIRA, The Path | La Voie, a new dynamic dance production at the Fleck Dance Theatre by Canada’s Lua Shayenne Dance Company and choreographed by Fara Tolno, one of Africa’s most influential artists. Dancers keep time with live percussionists whose evocative rhythms and powerful drum beats invoke Mother Nature’s wisdom and echo an auspicious warning: the invisible cord that links us to her is wasting away. Steeped in Guinean culture and guided by the voices of the ancestors, KIRA, The Path | La Voie is a gut-check on mankind’s sacred bond to nature. 

The final installment of the critically-acclaimed The Empire trilogy, Four Sisters, written and directed by Susanna Fournier with choreography by Amanda Acorn, chronicles the life of Sarah, a 279-year-old former madam who has defied death, survived the toppling of regimes and outlasted centuries of war.  When a mysterious plague breaks out, Sarah is forced into quarantine with her four young wards and is faced with a difficult choice that could have life-ending consequences. Featuring a stellar ensemble of women, Four Sisters at The Theatre Centre, will hurtle audiences into unsettling territory full of unpleasant truths about injustice, provocation and feminine rage.

Illuminating works

Luminato’s Illuminating works initiative is back for its second year, bringing a delegation of international and national presenters and producers to the city to experience a wide range of work created by Toronto-based and Canadian artists. Illuminating works provides a platform for artists to spark new conversations and collaborations with international and national presenters and pitch their work for potential export to other markets. In its inaugural year (2018), 25 Artistic Directors and collaborators from 17 cities around the world were given a first-hand introduction to the breadth and scale of the city’s cultural landscape, attending 13Canadian shows and connecting with 8 Toronto-based artists and arts organizations over 6 days.

Illuminating works is supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Toronto.

Luminato 2019 Ideas Program – Illuminating Ideas

Luminato’s ideas program features a series of panel discussions, films, workshops and masterclasses designed to frame the festival within a real world context and engage audiences in meaningful and thought-provoking conversations that carry on well after the final curtain.

Through forums and films, this year’s ideas program, Illuminating Ideas, takes a deeper look into LGBTQ censorship in art, climate change in the North, building healthy male communities through sport and witch hunts throughout history. Forum discussions will take place immediately following each film. Forum guests and moderators will be announced soon. Both the films and forum discussions will take place at Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre

Luminato’s CEO Anthony Sargent: “Last year’s Luminato was one of the most widely praised in recent years, and 2019 builds on many of 2018’s popular successes – a large-scale participatory event showcasing Toronto’s own talent, wide-ranging celebration of some of Canada’s most distinctive creative voices, promoted internationally by Illuminating works, a strong vein of Indigenous culture, and works that hold up a mirror to today’s fractured world, expanded through Illuminating Ideas. All of these are programming strands that we will develop in future years, alongside our signature commitment to bringing some of today’s most exciting international artists to Canada. I join our Artistic Director Naomi Campbell in welcoming Torontonians and visiting guests to another Luminato festival packed with discovery and adventure."

Luminato’s 2019 film series is curated in partnership with Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and includes the following:

After the USA, Canada produces more NBA talent than anywhere else in the world, and Toronto is at the centre of this boom. The city’s programs and coaches are some of the best in the country, but what does it really take to make the ultimate hoop dream come true? True North: Inside the Rise of Toronto Basketball, directed by Ryan Sidhoo, is a riveting docu-series following five of Toronto’s leading players: Keone Davis, Malachi Ndur, Cordell Veira, Jalen Celestine and 12 year-old wunderkind Elijah Fisher. As courtside cameras and intimate exchanges reveal, it takes more than athletic ability to navigate the path to success. As fast-paced and engaging as the game itself, this striking docu-series takes audiences into the very heart of Toronto’s basketball scene. 

While Greenpeace and celebrities from Paul McCartney to Pamela Anderson, loudly condemn Inuit seal hunting as a barbaric, award-winning filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril has had enough. In this stunning exposé, Angry Inuk confronts the spotlight-wielding outrage with the real voices of Inuit people, attempting to battle fame-factory furore with facts. Attacked for the traditional practices that have supported their communities for centuries, controversy intensifies as NGOs draw little distinction between Inuit’s livelihood-driven hunting and the industry’s profit-driven practices.  Clever and ever-resilient, the conflict-adverse culture must now use modern weapons to fight for their survival. Angry Inuk reveals how a far more vulnerable community than seals is facing extinction – the Inuit themselves.

In an age immune to shock, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe can still cause a stir.  Controversial and unapologetic, Mapplethorpe’s images of male gay sex, nudity and sadomasochism pushed contemporary art towards what some museum directors, art dealers and Senator Jesse Helms, labeled pornography. Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato delves into the prolific work that challenged the definitions of censorship and the life of the artist behind the controversy. From his formative relationship with Patti Smith to his fractious rapport with Andy Warhol, his lovers, muses, friends and family open up about Mapplethorpe’s true intentions. With unparalleled access to his archive, this striking account of a career cut short by AIDS in 1989 turns up not only the infamous pictures, but the stunning floral and portraiture work of a seminal modern artist.

Tabloid news stories and headline grabbing criminal cases featuring satanic cult killings and ritual abuse hit a crescendo in the United States in the 1990s.  “The Satanic Panic” saw scores of false charges and sensationalized trials, a disproportionate number of which accused LGBTQ people. Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, looks into the case of four lesbian Latina women who were charged with sexually assaulting two young girls. Though prosecutors lacked key evidence, all four were found guilty.  Fifteen years later, Esquenazi took up the case, and while researching the role homophobia and witch mythology played during the trial, she captures one of the accusers – now an adult – recanting her testimony.  The stunning admission could lead to the exoneration of the imprisoned felons in this riveting legal exposé.

Luminato 2019 Venues

Luminato is pleased to stage performances at some of Toronto’s most iconic performance venues including the Harbourfront Centre, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Bluma Appel Theatre, Koerner Hall, The Theatre Centre, Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, Berkeley Street Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts, John W.H. Bassett Theatre, MacMillan Theatre and 291 Lake Shore Boulevard. The festival is especially grateful to our venue partners: Harbourfront Centre and TO Live.

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