by Rob Kempson
Good morning Internet! I’m Rob—the director and co-creator of #legacy at HATCH this year. #legacy is a performance project that features three women over 65, all of whom are new to Twitter, and all of whom don’t identify as artists. I love working in community and educational settings, and this project provides me with an opportunity to put that work into a professional arts context. I am truly fortunate to have their trust, and the trust and support of the HATCH/Harbourfront Centre team.
When I developed the project idea for #legacy, I think I thought it would be easy. Not “easy” in a this-will-happen-without-crisis kind of way but more of a this-can’t-possibly-fail-artistically kind of way. I suppose that’s pretentious of me. In my opinion, one should always enter an artistic project with a little bit of fear. A little bit of concern that it won’t go well, or it will all fall apart. That kind of fear is healthy—it makes you work harder and makes you more accountable to yourself. But I didn’t have that kind of fear this time around. What I had was confidence: seniors-on-Twitter-while-talking-about-legacy confidence. And surely that couldn’t fail.
But my idea that it will be easy is long gone. You see, all three of my co-creators and performers have joined Twitter and all three have a pretty good idea of how to use it (though I did do a bit of a “refresher” course today). You should follow them. Joan is @Joan_Belford2, Donna is @mccroq and Judith is @judith_dove. They’re smart, and willing to learn more about how to be effective Tweeters. So that part is working.
All three of them have written beautiful, poignant, hilarious and heartfelt reflections on the very nature of legacy, and what it has meant to them. And what it might mean to them in the future. They are sharing so much of themselves, and so much of their wisdom. It’s incredibly raw source material.
And I’ve begun crafting it into a sort-of script, alongside the help of my dear friend and dramaturg Samantha Serles. Beth Kates has started to shape the visual landscape of the piece—a virtual bounty of technological riches.
But despite all of that positivity, it’s not “easy”. I think it can’t be. Not even in the everyone-gets-along-so-well-that-collaboration-is-the-best kind of way (even though that’s true). Easy isn’t what this project requires. There’s a version of it that could be done in that way, sure, but what we’ve begun doing instead is asking hard questions, delving deep, understanding more about ourselves, about the way that art is made, and likely making some mistakes. I know all of this sounds a lot like navel-gazing, and that it really represents my meanderings about the artistic process, but it’s also true. This version of the project results in pauses in the conversation, the occasional tear, the incredible risk of writing something down that might not make you feel good.
This is the first of a number of blog posts about this project—and among the first of many about this year’s HATCH 2014 season. You should come to all of the work, because it represents some fascinating artistic explorations. But you should also come because nothing that you’ll see is easy. And I think that’s probably a good thing.
P.S. You can follow me on Twitter too–@rob_kempson.
by Heather Gilroy
It looks like he’s wearing a bike lock on his head.
A protruding horizontal rectangle shadows the actor’s face—it’s attached to him by a black headband. The tiny camera is suspended just inches in front of his nose. A cable comes out of the contraption leading somewhere behind the curtains…
Centre stage, a huge animated head is projected, a donkey whose lips are moving in time with the man’s, whose head turns when his does—a big 3D cartoon puppet. It’s March 2013, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is getting a high-tech treatment over at York University, and poor Bottom has been turned into an ass for real this time.
Adam Bergquist as Bottom in the Theatre@York production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(3D model by Aaron McLean, animation by SIRT Centre)
The Dream‘s director Alison Humphrey first met Pascal Langdale during this production, introduced by creative producer Vanessa Shaver of Invisible Light.
Langdale is a RADA-trained actor with more than 33 television and film credits to his name, including the interactive movie Heavy Rain and the series Bitten, currently airing on Space. He’s also a performance capture specialist and business developer for Dynamixyz, the company that provided the hardware and software for this live-animated glowing blue donkey adventure.
Humphrey has a master’s degree in theatre directing and another in digital media, and has had an interest in experimental storytelling since writing for Global’s “instant drama” Train 48 and producing one of the earliest web-based alternate reality games to promote Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic.
Together, they think motion capture technology, and the real-time animation it makes possible, belong on the stage. Their new work, Faster than Night, is one of four projects chosen for HATCH, Harbourfront Centre’s annual performing arts residency programme. Facial capture is a big part of the work.
Pascal Langdale (photo by Vanessa Shaver)
But this technology is unusual in live theatre, so let’s decode our description from the beginning, the man with the bike lock on his head.
It’s actually a head-mounted camera from Dynamixyz, a contraption made up of a helmet, a miniature video camera, an illumination strip (visible or infrared light), and a 9V battery. The camera tracks facial movements, sending video data at up to 120 frames per second to a computer backstage, either wirelessly or by USB cable.
The information then meets a suite of software called Performer, which takes the data and breaks it down into points of movement. The software re-targets it onto a pre-existing animated face, already programmed to the actor’s range of motion and expression.
Facial capture used to require painted dots on the actor’s face, but this system is markerless. Dynamixz’s camera is sensitive enough to read a person’s wrinkles, even their blushes. Each filmed pixel acts as a marker on the actor’s skin and as it is tracked, the system creates a collection of interconnecting motion, a sense of realistic physicality. The actor opens his mouth, the animated face opens its mouth.
It turns a 3D computer model face into a marionette, controlled by the movements of the live actor’s face.
Motion-capture has, for a long time, been the domain of videogames and Hollywood blockbusters. Other versions of the technology exist, and not just to work with the human face, but with the whole body. It’s helped game developers (and biomechanical researchers) model human movement with incredible realism: How does the rest of my body react when I move my leg? How does breathing affect my shoulders? In the long run, many large game companies find it cheaper to invest in mocap technology and wire up a couple of actors than to hire crews of animators to model and labor over every possibility the game offers.
Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar
All this means that you don’t have to look too far before you find some animators who are opposed to the whole thing, who want animation to just be animation, period. But Langdale contests that: “It’s not a helpful position. We need animators to make motion capture in the first place, to create the models for the initial program and every time we make a new character. It’s not the end of animation.” It’s just a different branch, and besides, how else would animators and animation end up in live theatre?
Sitting around a kitchen table, Langdale and Humphrey are working on the script for Faster than Night. The sci-fi narrative hinges on a moral dilemma set on a spaceship in the far future, but the question they’re currently discussing is a bit more down-to-earth: Where will their 3D model astronaut be looking when he answers a question live-tweeted by a member of the audience? Should he make eye contact? Or should he maintain the fourth wall?
Motion capture technology onstage is exciting, a futuristic version of mask work and puppetry, but with its own risks and rewards. Like traditional puppets, it can’t keep still without looking a little bit dead, and to turn away from the audience risks losing the effect, just as with any mask.
In some ways, this technology is a thespian’s dream, a chance to literally become someone or something else, to totally transform into a role. But the head-mounted camera is an unfamiliar piece of paraphernalia to have on the body – it can be distracting both for the actor, and for an audience. If we’re meant to watch only the projected animation, where does the man in the headcam go? If he’s on-stage, how do we write in his funny hat? Or maybe instead, as the Wizard of Oz suggests, we should “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
And breakthrough tech doesn’t come risk-free. No, this is live theatre at its height. In movies and games, there’s a chance to edit the footage, to make it perfect. But during a live show any number of things can go wrong, from lighting mishaps, to headcam battery death, to a range of motion the system hasn’t been calibrated for…
But that’s show business, right? Even in the 21st century.
Heather Gilroy is a Toronto writer/editor whose work has appeared in a variety of formats and publications, from the Toronto Animated Arts Festival International to BlogTO to Raconteurs (formerly MothUP Toronto, in association with the popular podcast, The Moth). Follow Heather at @HLGilroy.
study for The Ballad of _____ B (2013). Performance for the camera. Photograph by Manolo Lugo.
by Francisco Fernando Granados
The The Ballad of _____ B is site specific performance for the stage that will be presented as part of HATCH 2014 at the Harbourfront Centre Studio Theatre on April 26th. The piece brings into focus a 2-year-long exploration of the ways in which migrant bodies, particularly refugees, are compelled to tell their stories. The idea for the piece came after a friend of mine who teaches ESL brought to my attention a passage from a vocabulary lesson found in the ‘Canadian Mosaic’ unit of a workbook for one of the classes they were teaching.
I was ‘Student B’ 11 years ago. The text was lifted word by word, without my knowledge or consent, from a 2003 article in the Vancouver Sun titled Climbing Mount Canada. In the aftermath of 9-11, at a time when most headlines about racialized newcomer youth focused on crime and school dropout rates, the article interviewed four immigrant and refugee teenagers, myself included, about our volunteer work for a publicly funded community peer support program in the Greater Vancouver area.
It was a standard story that set up the brutal experiences that had brought us to this country as the background for a celebratory tale of multicultural Canadian benevolence. The appropriated textbook version of the article included the stories of two other youth: Student A and Student C. One of them, Student C, is still a very close friend of mine.
For The Ballad of _____ B, I am only working with my narrative. I have left my peers’ names and stories out of the project as a matter of respect, but in terms of providing some context for the piece, it is important to mention that the three of us were part of a larger movement in BC in the early 2000’s that sought to give visibility to issues of racial discrimination, barriers to education, and the early stages of the harsh immigration policies that continue to affect the lives of immigrant and refugee young people in this country today.
Attempting to reflect critically on these issues as our stories began to be represented in the media led us to want to be more that just interview subjects. A group of us began to work with newcomer settlement agencies like the Immigrant Services Society of BC to create models of engagement for other young people like us that provided a similar opportunity to legitimize their skills and aspire to become something beyond the stereotypes commonly associated with racialized first generation migrants.
These collective efforts over the past 12 years have lead to a wide range of community projects including Redefining Canadian, a participatory action research project lead by filmmaker and scholar Joah Lui, where migrant youth learned to make videos and documentaries; the NuYu Popular Theatre Project, which offers free theatrical training based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed methodology; and the Make It Count campaign, a BC-wide appeal to the provincial government to recognize and accredit migrant students’ language learning towards their high school graduation credits.
I was actively involved in these community efforts first as a participant, then as a coordinator and administrator until around 2009. By then, I was BFA student, had become a Canadian citizen, and felt exhausted and frustrated with the politics of both not-for-profit organizations and community activism. I also became aware of the importance of making space in leadership positions within these movements for the generation of young people who came after early 2000’s batch I belonged to. I decided to focus on finishing my art education and became a professional artist.
My work as a visual artist, primarily in performance, had up until this project rejected narrative structures; this is perhaps due to my disappointment with the ways in which migrant narratives are often de-contextualized and appropriated by governments, non-profit groups, and activists that seek to represent those whose voices cannot be listened to within the current structures of the political economy. But the surprise of the encounter with my own story in the form of a language lesson, reaching from the past, compelled me to engage with narrative as a form.
After a couple of years of holding on to the text without knowing exactly what to do with it, I realized that engaging with narrative required two aesthetic moves: spacing and redistribution. As a man in my late 20’s, making a living as a sessional instructor in an art school in Toronto, it was hard for me to identify with the figure of the student. I am relatively young, but I am a teacher these days. My primary training in drawing has left me with a voracious curiosity for linear structures. In reclaiming this particular narrative, I wanted to create spaces within the text that would allow for something to happen. Line became the instrument of spacing. Thus Student B became _____ B.
The second move was re-distribution. I will write about this next week.
by Melissa D’Agostino
Welcome to the Fish bowl!
I am ever so excited to be developing my piece, BroadFish through Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH Program. Over the next few weeks I will be documenting my journey, and giving you tidbits of creation, of inspiration and of information as I continue to build this solo adventure into the world of weddings, fairy tales, gender roles and relationships.
For my first post I thought I’d shed some insight on the show’s title.
It’s a little exercise in word play:
Broad is the derogatory term historically used to describe women (more on that in a sec)
Fish points to the idea of metamorphosis, and the allure of creatures like mermaids, and centaurs, but we’ll get to centaurs at a later date. My love for Centaurs needs its own post.
And finally, the Broad Fish is the largest human tapeworm and is transmitted to humans through the consumption of said fish. That’s right. The show gonna get messy. You’ll want to be there.
Now, in doing some research on these terms for this blog, I consulted several sources. And, being as thorough as possible, I meandered over to the gem of the Interweb: Urban Dictionary. How were modern-day folk defining the term ‘broad’, I wondered…
Here are some of my favourite definitions from that hub of information.
Or don’t and instead understand my shock, horror and alarm.
Things began respectfully and educationally:
Then they got a bit colourful thanks, in part, to a Bette Midler quote.
Then someone decided to clarify…graphically*
*Much to my chagrin.
I sure am glad someone clarified for me the whole slut versus broad issue. Phew. That could have been awkward in future, horrific conversations.
Then things got succinct and culinary.
Incoherent when used in a sentence.
Still about meat of some kind.
I have yet to uncover the definition of Sausage in this context, but I’ll keep you posted.
And then, decidedly Vile.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure the definitions were far LESS offensive at the turn of the 20th century when most of us women-folk weren’t even allowed to vote. Oh Internet: I should never take the first click down the awful rabbit hole of bad spelling, incoherent sentences and hateful speech. But I do. I always do.
I am continually puzzled at the gender politics of the world today, and most especially at how these politics play out on the Internet. There is often an undercurrent of misogyny in many threads, posts and articles, and certainly in a lot of video content, and it’s perpetuated by both genders. I say that I am puzzled, but sadly I’m rarely surprised. One simple search for the definition of, what I thought to be, a bygone word used to berate women turned up some truly nasty modern definitions.
Are we moving backward? Has the anonymity of the Internet made it easier to use horrible words against one another and define ourselves in narrow terms? Or are we able to keep a broad perspective? See what I did there?
I’d love to hear what you think.
Tweet me @melissadags and hashtag #HatchTO #BroadFish.
This April the four #HatchTO 2014 residencies at Harbourfront Centre will begin, taking over their Studio Theatre. Over the course of the next three months, all four #HatchTO projects will take over this digital space with their experiments.
Posts will be in all forms and sizes through writing, video, images and embedded social media tools. Starting next week, to see what each company has been up to, click their project images in the sidebar on the right to see the most recent posts by each one.
This is a big change to how praxistheatre.com has operated previously. We hope for the next few months this will make praxistheatre.com a place where people interested in how social media-integrated experiments can evolve, and will continue to check-in to see how things are developing.
When April arrives, and each residency is in-house at The Studio Theatre, this site will become a platform where various live-tweeting and other integrations as-will-be-necessary can be found.
#HATCHTO 2014: Welcome to the Theatrosphere.
Click image to read NOW cover story
By Nicolas Billon, Starring Kate Hennig, Directed by Michael Wheeler
A Praxis Theatre production at The Next Stage Theatre Festival
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, Senora Carrar refuses to pick sides: her husband died in combat and she’s determined to keep her two sons alive and out of the conflict. But as Franco’s army marches towards their village, her resolve is challenged.
Click here for tickets
Kate Hennig and Cyrus Lane
Dates & Times:
Wednesday, January 8th, 9:30pm
Thursday, January 9th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 11th, 2:30pm
Sunday, January 12th, 7:00pm
Monday, January 13th, 9:15pm
Wednesday, January 15th, 7:00pm
Thursday, January 16th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 18th, 7:00pm
Sunday, January 19th, 9:30pm
Cast: Kate Hennig, Cyrus Lane, Araya Mengesha, Barbara Gordon, Hume Baugh, Philip Graeme, Zoe Sweet, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Matthew Hines
Original Composition: Beau Andrew Dixon
Set and Costume Designer: Erin Gerofsky
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Vandevelde
Stage Manager: Kat Chin
Rifles Director Michael Wheeler and Producer Aislinn Rose in The Next Festival Program
Hello Praxis Friends,
Happy Holiday Season to everyone.
We are hard at work on our newest creation, Rifles as part of The Next Stage Theatre Festival this January at The Factory Theatre in Toronto.
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, Senora Carrar refuses to pick sides: her husband died in combat and she’s determined to keep her two sons alive and out of the conflict. But as Franco’s army marches towards their village, her resolve is challenged.
Wed Jan 8 9:30pm, Thu Jan 9 5:00pm, Sat Jan 11 2:30pm, Sun Jan 12 7:00pm, Mon Jan 13 9:15pm, Wed Jan 15 7:00pm, Thu Jan 16 5:00pm, Sat Jan 18 7:00pm, Sun Jan 19 9:30pm
Rifles playwright Nicolas Billion. Winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama.
This new adaptation is based on Brecht’s little-known masterpiece, Senora Carrar’s Rifles, written in 1937, which Michael directed last year as his Shaw Festival Director’s Project.
This is Nicolas’ first script for the stage since winning The 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama for his trilogy Fault Lines.
Look for more about the show in this space leading up to the show in January.
Playwright: Nicolas Billon
Director: Michael Wheeler
Producer: Aislinn Rose
Cast: Kate Hennig, Cyrus Lane, Araya Mengesha, Barbara Gordon, Hume Baugh, Philip Graeme, Zoë Sweet, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Matthew Hines
Original Composition: Beau Dixon
Set and Costume Designer: Erin Gerofsky
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Vandevelde
HATCH artistic teams, Harbourfront Centre Communications staff and us, getting together for a little pre-season potluck
As we announced earlier this year, Praxis Theatre is guest-curating Harbourfront Centre’s 2014 HATCH season of new performance experiments. As curators, we were particularly interested in looking at projects that would include experiments in how social media can be included in the development and/or performance of new works.
We’re very happy to say that we have selected our artists for 2014, and while Harbourfront Centre will be launching an awesome new web portal for these artists and their work at HATCH in January 2014, we’re providing you with a sneak peek today of who they are and what they’ll be working on over the next 5 months.
We invite you to take a look, and even engage with their projects online as they develop.
#legacy – Rob Kempson – Core Artist
Why do we yearn to leave a legacy behind? #legacy features Twitter and three women over the age of 65 who are looking to make the most of it.
This interactive performance project brings three women over the age of 65 up-close and personal with social media in general–and the Twitterverse in particular–in order to consider how we might leave a lasting impression—and how it should be hashtagged.
Follow the ladies on Twitter:
BroadFish – Melissa D’Agostino – Core Artist
What happens when the promise of a perfect future hangs on the one thing out of your grasp?
BroadFish is a live theatre experiment by acclaimed performer Melissa D’Agostino that integrates folktales, music, improvisation, and motion pictures to explore the thin line between reality and fantasy, relationships and romance, and the power of myth in our everyday lives. By plunging into the wild world of female stereotypes, BroadFish considers traditional attitudes toward relationships, happiness, and romance, investigating how they’ve evolved and degenerated through the Internet, social media, and digital technology.
The Ballad of _______ B – Francisco-Fernando Granados – Core Artist
The Ballad of _______ B brings together a young refugee’s obsession with opera diva Maria Callas and the queerness of the imagination to centre stage.
The performance is conceived as a character study of _______ B, a once “clean-cut, fresh-faced 18-year-old” refugee whose story appears as a vocabulary lesson in the pages of an instructional ESL book. This work marks a radical departure for artist Francisco-Fernando Granados, from action-based, conceptual approaches to experimental explorations that incorporate digital media, narrative, and recitation.
Faster than Night – Digital BlackBox: Vanessa Shaver, Pascal Langdale, Alison Humphrey – Core Artists
Social media billionaire Caleb Smith is on a mission. Racing against a terrible terminal illness, he is embarking on a deep space voyage with the secret goal of cheating time and death. But when something goes horribly wrong, can you help make a gut-wrenching life-or-death decision?
Newly formed Digital BlackBox blends live performance with real-time 3D animation and audience interaction to hone a new approach to storytelling, the first of its kind in the world. The company includes RADA-trained actor, writer, and performance-capture specialist Pascal Langdale; writer, director, and 2009 Elliot Hayes Award-Winner Alison Humphrey; creative producer Vanessa Shaver; and executive producer Jo Singh Brar.
Hon James Moore being sworn in as new Minister of Industry. The Globe and Mail reported Ministers with new portfolios were given ‘enemy lists’ during this federal cabinet shuffle.
Saturday morning I woke up to discover the Federal Minister of Industry, James Moore, took to Twitter to respond to one of my tweets, which he deemed “false”.
It started with his tweet below, which I never saw, because I “have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user”.
I remember this “blocking” occurred roughly a year-and-a-half ago during The Freefall Festival. I was debating the merits of Conservative cultural policy on Twitter with Moore during Jonathan Goldsbie’s Enchanted Streetcar Ride. Soon after I mentioned that our hashtag #route501 was trending above the Ontario provincial budget, Moore proceeded to block me.
Anyhow, the narrative begins with this tweet:
As if hope was the exclusive providence of mindless platitudes…. But this is a story about specific facts, so I will refrain from commenting further. Because I am blocked from seeing tweets by Minister Moore, it came to my attention when it was quoted by Kelly Nestruck, Theatre Critic for The Globe and Mail (who has not blocked me, yet).
When I saw this, what didn’t come to mind was grammar or Layton. What occurred to me was that Moore’s tweet was extremely rich. As a Cabinet Minister his staff would have been responsible for putting together one ‘Enemies List’ for incoming Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, and he would have received a second list to be brought up to speed on the “enemy” situation from the people that brought you Industry Minister Christian Paradis.
So given that Moore was involved with not one, but two sets of enemy lists during the cabinet shuffle several months ago, I tweeted this:
Of course by “predecessor” I meant “successor”.
There followed a brief conversation between Nestruck, playwright Sean Dixon and myself about whether the NDP used apostrophes properly in their mailings. Went to bed early enough to avoid The Raptors embarrassing themselves, and woke up to this tweet:
I was confused by this tweet by a Minister of the Crown in response to allegations that he and his office created lists of enemies at the request of, (say it in your best Duffy Baritone) The P.M.O.
On July 16, 2013. The Globe and Mail reported Harper’s office
“sent a memo asking for lists of “enemy stakeholders” for new cabinet ministers.”
Is The Honourable James Moore calling The Globe and Mail “liars”?
On July 17, 2013. Recent Harper Cabinet Minister Peter Kent heavily criticized Enemy Lists:
“For those of us of a certain generation, it evokes nothing less than thoughts of Nixon and Watergate.”
Is The Honourable James Moore calling Conservative MP Peter Kent “mindless”?
On July 24, 2013. The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt reported over 200 civic-society groups, including Amnesty International Canada and Oxfam Canada, had asked for access to enemy lists, but were being stonewalled by the Harper Government:
“It is worrying more widely… with respect to the state of democracy in Canada. Plain and simple, in a healthy democracy government does not publicly talk of its critics and detractors as enemies.”
Is The Honourable James Moore calling Amnesty International “childish”?
Franke James discovered through FOI requests proof she had been placed on an ‘enemy list’ that caused govt officials to interfere with her work because she created art about The Tar Sands.
I am asking these questions non-rhetorically, because for Moore’s tweet to be truthful, then the answer to each must be “yes”.
So we are left with two versions of the truth:
A massive conspiracy involving The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, a broad spectrum of civic society, and even a member of Moore’s own caucus, which has colluded to make us falsely believe Cabinet Ministers in The Harper Government created and received ‘enemy lists’ during the last Cabinet shuffle.
Harper Cabinet Ministers and their offices made and received ‘enemy lists’ as requested by PMO.
Perhaps the Minister mis-tweeted and this was just a Fordian slip? Getting a bit tedious being asked to believe in the absurd as plausible these days.
Tommy and I (left) on our way to Parliament to check out Question Period on Monday Nov 18. Photo Aislinn Rose
by Michael Wheeler
At every stop along the #G20Romp tour we have provided the same context to our participant detainees – the almost 300 Canadians from across the country who have participated in telling the story of what happened to people at G2o Toronto in 2010. We said, “Hopefully, if enough people do it and we gain enough momentum, when we conclude the tour in Ottawa Members of Parliament will also do what you are doing, and stand up for civil rights by playing detainees in the detention centre.”
Meanwhile, everyone we were talking to in Ottawa was telling us the same thing: This is possible, but there’s no way to know until the day of the performance. MPs have crazy, ever-changing schedules, and when Parliament is in session there’s no way to know when there will be a snap vote or debate to attend.
So there had been a big red circle around Wednesday November 20th in our calendar for a long time: the day we would find out whether or not we were nuts, lucky, or both.
The day went down like this:
Tommy Taylor goes on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. Makes a pitch for MPs to join us onstage. Listen to his interview here.
News breaks that the RCMP believe Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff Nigel wright committed bribery and fraud in connection with the ongoing Senate Scandal. Total radio silence from #cdnpoli journalists we had been connecting with as the biggest Parliamentary story of the year is breaking. Uh oh.
The whole #G20Romp team meets up at a coffee shop before heading off to a reception for the production on Parliament Hill organized by The Honourable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport.
Every MP, from every party, received 2 email invitations and 1 colour paper invitation to the reception. Still not clear if anyone will attend.
The reception for You Should Have Stayed Home takes place on Parliament Hill in Room 601, Centre Block. A number of Members of Parliament, media and Parliamentary staffers attend:
MP Niki Ashton and Praxis Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose
House Leader of The Official Opposition MP Nathan Cullen, Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor and MP Andrew Cash
(l-r) Parliamentary Assistant & Playwright Darrah Teitel, MP Andrew Cash, Tommy Taylor, Michael Wheeler, Aislinn Rose, Rebecca Vandevelde, Scott Dermody, Parliamentary Assistant Jason Keays, MP Niki Ashton, MP Mike Sullivan
(l-r) MP Peggy Nash, Tommy Taylor, MP Libby Davies, Michael Wheeler, Aislinn Rose
The reception goes great. Many MPs tell us they wish they could join us in the cage, but have prior commitments, not the least of which is a debate occurring at 9:30pm that night on sending aid to The Philippines. D’oh, that’s about the same time You Should Have Stayed Home will be ending onstage…. Nobody panics, Peggy Nash and Andrew Cash tell us they’ll see us at the theatre tonight. We say great and ask no questions about how that will work with their Parliamentary schedules.
On our way out, the whole #G20Romp team meets MP Pat Martin. I deeply regret not telling him that he is missed on Twitter.
The team regroups for some sub-par french fries at a sub-standard pub. We discuss the surreal quality of the day so far, and review options that will allow MPs to be in the show and make it back to Parliament for 9:30pm.
Rehearsal. 17 detainees arrive to learn the scene, including our 2 MPs. Andrew Cash live-tweets some of the rehearsal:
When the rehearsal ends, we realize no one has any pictures of this momentous occasion! Quickly, those of us still in the room pose for a hastily arranged photo.
At this point, the issue of timing and schedules needs to be addressed. We devise a plan where after the scene is performed, MPs will exit the stage to the dressing rooms where they will have preset their belongings. This will allow them to see most of the show, perform in it, and still make it out of the theatre in time to return to Parliament for the debate.
An amazing performance by Tommy Taylor to a packed Arts Court theatre on opening night. Here’s what the thing we always wanted to do looks like from the booth. MPs on stage in the cage:
I once titled this photo, “This is what democracy looks like”. I wasn’t wrong, but this is what it looks like too.
Several people have already asked me, “So was this just an NDP thing or what?” No. Not strictly speaking, although certainly the party most associated with social justice was the one that hosted us on the hill and performed in the show, and they deserve mad props for that.
A quantitative analysis of MP tweets and RTs to the #G20Romp hashtag would also reveal Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett as another huge supporter of our endeavours. Unfortunately, she let us know she was on a flight the night of our show. We also heard back from Green Party MP Elizabeth May, who sent her regrets from a climate change conference in Warsaw. So definitely the NDP came through for Praxis big-time – but on another day, in different circumstances, a multi-partisan cage might have been possible. We did not receive any expressions of interest from any of the Conservative MPs, all of whom were invited.
The entire #G20Romp team is pretty inspired by the participation of the Honourable Members of Parliament and we all went to bed very late, not really believing we actually pulled it off.