Date: 2010 December

December 24, 2010, by
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santa-kids

Happy Holidays from everyone at Praxis Theatre.

We will be back in 2011 with some new ideas and content as well as more of what we do best.

If you came here looking to kill some time on the internet – there’s always these 30 pics of kids that are scared of Santa – just to make you feel that y0ur holiday season is going relatively well. If you are in or around Toronto – maybe we will see you in person at Small Wooden Shoe’s second annual Christmas concert, What Keeps Mankind Alive, on the 29th of December at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Until the New Year!

Praxis Theatre

December 23, 2010, by
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The Carnegie Library at 1115 Queen Street West will eventually become a permanent home for The Theatre Centre

The Carnegie Library at 1115 Queen Street West will eventually become a permanent home for The Theatre Centre

by Michael Wheeler

1

A permanent home for The Theatre Centre

The Theatre Centre has existed in many locations since being founded in 1979, began a research and development program for Toronto indie theatre in 1984, and updated this practice in 2004 to its groundbreaking residency program now in place. It is an established leader in boundary-pushing, innovative and challenging approaches to performance and has nurtured and developed the talents of many of the city’s top artists.

In April, City Council offered the long-term lease of the former Carnegie Library at 1115 Queen Street West to The Theatre Centre as sole tenant. After 48 years of closure to the public, residents of Toronto will be able to enjoy the building once more.  More money still needs to be raised to bring this much needed resource and home for a community into reality, but this first step, and the commitment of a number of key foundations to support this move, is my #1 pick for 2010.

2

Citizens Against Proroguing Parliament

What? Yep. That was this year. Can you believe it? Hoping Canadians wouldn’t notice their democracy being shut down by framing it as a “procedural issue” Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament to avoid questions about the treatment of Afghan detainees and was met with impressive organization online and in the streets. It’s hard to tell what was more heartening: a single Facebook page becoming an overnight organizing megaforce or 200,000 Canadians asserting their right to live in a democracy coast-to-coast with a single voice. It’s a good thing we finally got to the bottom of that whole Afghan detainee thing….Oh – wait a second!?!

3

Rosie DiManno

For real. This is not a joke and I am not being ironic. Turn your theonion.com filters off for a second: I get it. There was a point in my life where I was ready to start a “Bring Back DiMannoWatch” Facebook Page. Then Rosie became the only reporter in Toronto interested in capital “J” journalism as it related to G20. Instead of recycling myopic statements by subjects with much to hide, DiManno has been doing the work The Toronto Police Force and, well, every other journalist in the city, was unwilling or unable to do. She has already achieved tangible results by bringing the facts to a place where the public can interact with them and forced me to remember that human beings are often complicated and contradictory creatures.

4

People who did the thing they said they would do, in the time alloted, the way they said they would do it

Most successful endeavours this year were likely based on your contributions.

5

Summerworks

Summerworks is one of the most important theatre festivals for new independent performance in the country. Some of the shows produced there may not or may not speak to Conservative values, and the festival may or may not have submitted a grant late at a certain point. None of this changes the important role the festival plays in Canada’s performing arts ecosystem and the opportunity it presents for emerging artist/entrepreneurs to jumpstart their own careers.  The recent move to Queen W. and the inclusion of independent music are also a big plus for making it an event with wide community appeal.

Cardinal Clement was angered concerned data from the census could establish facts that differed from official state doctrine

Cardinal Clement was concerned data from the census could establish facts that differed from official state doctrine

6

Munir Sheikh

Whatever ideological differences we may have with one another as citizens, it is not acceptable for the government to act as if the Enlightenment didn’t happen. Facts are relevant, data is important and logic can only be ignored at our peril.

7

Sidney Crosby

An overtime sudden-death goal to win the final gold medal of an Olympic games, at home, simultaneously making your country the one with the most gold medals at the games, and establishing a new record for gold medals by a country at any Olympic winter games. Our grandchildren will be jealous.

8

praxistheatre.com comment of the year

I would like to acknowledge the highly subjective “winner” of this category each year in this space. Even though I just interviewed Brendan Gall six weeks ago, if we’re going to base these things on merit, I believe he was also the clear winner of ‘Comment of the Year ’ for his response to our February post: “How Do You Get a Grant?

9

The moderate growth of the theatrosphere

Although there is plenty of room for many new projects at the intersection of online tools and performance, 2010 was the year many companies committed to expanding their artistic practice online. From interviews with Studio 180’s creative team, to checking out pics Obsidian Theatre had uploaded of a cast member transforming her appearance, to Alberta Theatre Projects creating an audio mixtape from online submissions, to hearing from a flow of artists creating new work through the ‘My Story’ posts on The Tarragon Theatre Facebook Page – this was a significant year for the integration of social media tools with performance.

10

Beautifulcity.ca

It’s still unclear whether any of the funds from the City’s Billboard Tax will reach their original target of “public art” to offset the visual pollution caused by billboard advertising as originally intended, recommended by city staff, and supported by a majority of Torontonians. Ten years from now, the real value of this movement may be the politicization and organization of a generation of artists and community activists.  This is a new cohort of engaged citizenry that understands how to communicate through social and mainstream media and is determined to have an impact at City Hall – not just for arts funding – but to contribute to a city that is understood as a community and is based on inclusive values.

December 17, 2010, by
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The information and analysis contained in this faux-rap battle about the issues discussed at the recent G20 is more detailed than many actual newscasts


.

One can only assume that this analysis of the Wikileaks news story would make Bertolt Brecht very happy.

by Michael Wheeler

Fresh on the heels of our conversation about the the website Xtranormal and the impact it was having on online performance, comes a different take on incorporating a global audience into online performance.

Taipei-based Next Media Animation (NMA) bills itself as “the largest full-service 3D animation studio in Asia” and the company’s corporate profile boasts it can provide “animation to order” with a turn around time of “hours”.  This studio doesn’t just create digital content to-order for other broadcasters however, it also broadcasts it’s own material via NMA.TV. This website animates some of the the world’s most high-profile news events, in what can only be described as Brechtian perspective, with most world powers being represented by archetypes, metaphors, or signifiers.

To further introduce this news coverage to an online audience, the website is heavily integrated with its facebook page (every broadcast finishes with the newscasters urging viewers to “find us on facebook”). Anyone who “likes” the page has the opportunity to become part of the news by having an avatar of themselves represent one of the characters in an upcoming broadcast. At the end of the news segment, the “guest star” is revealed with a quick recap of their “performance”.

Just to be clear – if you get your news through this medium through social media tools – it is possible that you can virtually become part of the news in a credited performance and never leave your computer.

If it’s not theatre – it’s something right?

December 14, 2010, by
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Last week was an exciting week for this website; a number of the discussions that started here became amplified as they migrated to a different corners of the internet:

The Guardian:
Noises off: Michael Billington gets the animation treatment

xtranormal image

In this piece, Chris Wilkinson expands upon our December 3rd post about whether the internet is facilitating a new form of theatre through websites like Xtranormal that allow text-to-movie story creation for free through your internet browser. Included in the article is a great video created using text created by Britain’s longest-serving theatre critic Michael Billington, whom no one likely imagined being mentioned in the same breath as Praxis Theatre this time last week.

Torontoist:
2010 Villain: Private Arts Funding Trumping Public

Wesley and Arch played several sets throughout the evening

Steve Fisher goes into all the ways public funding for the arts in Toronto is important and necessary, and all the ways 2010 has been a bad year for government support for the arts nonetheless. Praxis get cited at the end, as a link to observations made in this space on November 30th that our new ‘Arts Czar’ seems to be unwilling to advocate for the value of public funding for the arts, while running a world-class organization that receives 40% of its revenue from the government.

Reddit.com
Hockey fan (and theatre director) calls out Don Cherry hypocrisy in open letter…

"Actually I'm wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything. I thought I'd get it in. What'd ya expect, Ron MacLean, here? To come here?" Don Cherry Dec 7/2010

Someone, I guess we’ll never know who, renamed and reposted Ruth Madoc Jones’ December 8th Letter to Don Cherry to the social news website reddit.com – turning it into an overnight sensation. The post generated thousands of hits and additional 74 comments on reddit.com,  adding to the 45 comments the post inspired in this space, making it the first post on praxistheatre.com to became a trending topic on Twitter.

December 10, 2010, by
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"Im not a Pinko, I'm a Red" - Eugenia "Jim Watts" played by Margaret Evans in Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan at Lab  Cab 2010

"I’m no pinko: I’m a Red." - Eugenia 'Jim' Watts played by Margaret Evans in Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan at Lab Cab 2010

Photo by Julien Lafleur courtesy of Lab Cab.

December 9, 2010, by
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Hub 14There are just three more slots left in the Producing and Creating Independent Theatre lecture and workshop presented by Cathy Gordon and Michael Wheeler at Hub 14 this Sunday.

Reserve your spot by emailing adapt.lecture@gmail.com

Date: Sunday Dec 12
Time: 2pm to 6pm
Location: Hub 14
Address: 14 Markham St (one block west of Bathurst, just north of Queen St.)
More Info: This pdf
Cost: $40

Please bring pen and paper.

See you then!

Cathy and Michael

December 8, 2010, by
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"Actually I'm wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything. I thought I'd get it in. What'd ya expect, Ron MacLean, here? To come here?" Don Cherry Dec 7/2010

"Actually I'm wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything. I thought I'd get it in. What'd ya expect, Ron MacLean, here? To come here?" Don Cherry at Rob Ford's inauguration at Toronto City Hall Dec 7/2010

Dear Mr. Cherry,

I write to you as an avid hockey fan and as an artist.

I started watching hockey with my Dad when I was a kid. I loved coach’s corner on Saturday nights on CBC and although I often didn’t agree with your politics, I always admired your hockey smarts. When you talked hockey, I listened.

However, since you have entered the political arena you have ceased to make sense to me. When it comes to commenting on what’s going on off the ice, your smarts have let you down.

“People are sick of the elites and artsy people running the show.” I have been a Toronto based theatre artist for close to 15 years. Most people I know in my profession make less than $30,000 a year. How does this put me or any of my fellow artists in any position to run things? How is it that you rail against the elites when your salary is paid for by the CBC, a publicly funded corporation? Do you not see the paradox here?

“It’s time for some lunch pail, blue-collar people…(to run things)”. I can only assume you were referring to Mayor Ford. Mr. Ford is ferociously anti-union even though unions represent workers. In your speech to council on December 7th, you called out the pinko kooks in the crowd. By pinkos you mean socialists, who are trade unionists, who are for the worker, the lunch-pail carrying blue collar folk. The guy and gal who love to watch a good game of hockey, eh?

So when you stood before council beside Mayor Ford, representing the little guy, the working man (and woman), and lambasting the lefties ( I can only assume you meant the councillors who support bike lanes, public transit, and unions), claiming that a time of honesty was now upon the city, all I could see was a man who makes close to a million dollars a year standing beside another man whose company does close to $100 million in annual sales, I did not see two defenders of the people.

I saw a sports personality in over his head with no idea how much the people who live in this city, artist and worker alike, have in common with the average wage of an arts worker falling somewhere just below minimum wage. I saw a new mayor who is bent on using misinformation and division to rule. The war on cars has now become the war between wards in the GTA.

Mr. Cherry. I am an artist and a hockey fan. I even admit to cheering for the Maple Leafs (it was great to see them come back against the Bruins Saturday night). I respect you as a man of hockey, but I can’t take your endorsement of Mayor Ford seriously.

Sincerely.

Ruth Madoc-Jones
Theatre Director and Leafs Fan

December 6, 2010, by
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Wrecking Ball 11 Poster #2 lower res

Image by Microdot Photography

Toronto’s Elite and Artsy types take the gloves off for one last rock’em sock’em night before handing over power to the Lunch Pail type millionaires who know how to get the job done.

Voters are “sick of the elites and artsy people,” running politics.
Don CherryDec 3 2010 in The Toronto Star

On Tuesday December 7 2010, Rob Ford has asked Don Cherry to place the Mayor’s Chain of Office around his neck ushering in an era of unprecedented prosperity where streetcar tracks will morph into subway tunnels, services will increase while taxes decrease, and bicyclists have been warned that it’s they’re own fault if they get hit in the numbers on city streets. The war on the car is over!

Resigned to enduring three full periods of respect for taxpayers bereft of visor-wearing left-wing bleeding heart pinkos, Wrecking Ball 11 on Monday December 6 will be the final opportunity for artsy elites to dig down deep and give it 110%  along the boards.

Come join the Wrecking Ball as we ride the gravy train one last time into the sunset (partially obscured by a Tim Horton’s drive-thru).

Read the 6 teams of actors, directors and writers had one week to prepare 6 new works ripped from the headlines on thewreckingball.ca

Read previews in NOW Magazine and The National Post

December 3, 2010, by
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by Michael Wheeler

A few months ago, as part of a post on the internet and theatre, I concluded with a video made on the online storytelling site xtranormal about the irrational behaviour driving the sales of iPhone 4s. This video has gained a lot of traction, and in particular the sequence where all of the features of a different phone are mentioned while the crazed shopper continues to reply in a robotic even-keeled voice, “I Don’t Care.”

Today xtranormal viral videos made for free on the internet seem to be everywhere. No actors, designers, or live audience to worry about. Just you as writer/director and a cast that isn’t going to give Johnny Depp a run for his money anytime soon, but might run off with Hello Kitty if you don’t keep an eye on em. Below are the two xtranormal videos doing the rounds in the world of North American theatre and Toronto municipal politics – two of our faves in this space.

You should be on Broadway

Rob Ford’s Transit Plan (Note the adoption of the “I don’t care” meme in this video also)