The third annual Luminato Festival brings international creativity to Toronto from June 5 to 14. This year, a significant part of its programming celebrates the concept of the macabre, partly inspired by the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. Check out these gothic happenings.
TALE FROM THE CRYPT
JUNE 8 Fantasy enthusiasts need no longer seclude themselves in darkened rooms, casting 12-sided dice and conjuring Lovecraftian visions, for the genre is now enjoying a popular renaissance. British writer Neil Gaiman is one of the prime movers behind fantasy’s contemporary cachet. The creator of The Sandman comic series, as well as bestselling adult and all-ages novels like American Gods, Anansi Boys and Coraline, graces Toronto with a reading from his latest work, The Graveyard Book. Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal for children’s literature, the mildly macabre story has been described as The Jungle Book set in a cemetery. Gaiman also discusses his writing in an onstage interview and participates in a book signing following the event. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656), 7 p.m., $15.
Commemorate the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth with a variety of readings and performances.
JUNE 8 TO 10 The American writer’s blood-chilling words inspire spine-tingling music in A Poe Cabaret: A Dream Within a Dream, featuring the Penderecki String Quartet and more. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St., 416-975-8555), 9 p.m., $45.
JUNE 10 Shiver with suspense as six of Toronto’s top scribes imbue the city with foreboding in Gothic Toronto: Writing the City Macabre. Among those presenting their ominous works are Nalo Hopkinson and Andrew Pyper. The Music Gallery (197 John St., 416-204-1080), 7:30 p.m., free.
JUNE 11 TO 13 Poe’s unusual life is staged in Nevermore, a hallucinatory production by Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre. Brooding yet heartfelt, this “musical-gothic fairy tale” toasts a master of dread. Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901), various times, $40 to $50.
JUNE 12 Often typecast as a sinister, vaguely craven foreigner alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars, character actor (and noted morphine addict) Peter Lorre personified 20th-century alienation. At least, that’s how Brooklyn-based band World/Inferno Friendship Society sees it. The group’s multimedia operetta Addicted to Bad Ideas, directed by Jay Scheib, holds up Lorre’s life and career to the not always flattering mirror of social and political history, with a fiery cabaret-punk score fittingly reflective of his outsider status. Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne St., 416-323-1251), 11 p.m., $35.