The 32nd annual Dora Awards are tonight at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Good luck to all the nominees, organizers, presenters, wait-staff, and spouses or partners that don’t know anyone but will make a good show of it anyhow.
Praxis will be live tweeting sights-and-sounds form the Doras, maybe some of the results too – but no promises! We’re looking at more of a colour commentary.
Maybe see you there? If not follow along from home/tastefully from your seat at the Bluma right here!
IN THE WINGS – Episode 3 – “The Apology” starring Kaitlyn Riordan, Sascha Cole and A. Jelly Konstruct (who is a dead ringer for You Should Have Stayed Home dramaturg and producer Julian DeZotti)
Earlier this week, cycling advocate Dave Meslin put on a bit of political theatre, in a clinic on how to combine media, on-the-ground activism and digital self-publishing, to achieve a tangible result in forcing the city to revise their cycling statistics for John St. Too bad the next day, four suburban city councilors out voted two downtown city councilors to remove bike lanes from Jarvis St. Have you bought/renewed your membership with The Bike Union? It seems they will be in need of additional resources.
Here’s some things I was wondering about in the cultural world: What’s going on with The Canada Prizes and Rob Ford’s New Arts and Culture Advisor? Or will none of these things exist in the future? If this is the case will there ever be a press release about the absence of these things – or will they just slowly melt away?
iPhone photo of a recent Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Theo Moudakis
1 – Play Games With Us
“Do you need my bag of miniatures?”
Toronto Fringe Exec. Director Gideon Arthurs
Ever since we started talking about our site-specific Dungeons & Dragons project at this year’s Fringe Festival, theatre people from every part of the industry have been coming out of the closet as former players of the game, with some even revealing they still regularly get together with friends to play.
We’re looking for players for our 6 hour marathon sessions in the basement of Snakes & Lattes, so let us know if you play, or used to play, and if you’re free on July 10th or July 16th. We’ll also be playing a trial game in advance of the fringe to experiment with our live sound and lighting designers, so even if you can make it to a Fringe game, there is the possibility of using you as a guinea pig whilst we quest to save our enchanted donkey. (This is not a joke – we lost our Donkey in the first trial game and we still plan on getting it back.)
2 – Get Locked in a Cage With Us
“Don’t worry – I promise we won’t get arrested.” You Should Have Stayed Home writer and performer Tommy Taylor
We have been rehearsing our 2011 Summerworks show You Should Have Stayed home off-and-on ever since we presented part of it at Buzz in April. Recently, we decided to include a scene that explores the conditions in the g20 detention centre on Eastern Ave. that requires 40 performers. No – that is not a typo: four zero. If you are A) Male and B) want to be in Summerworks – this is your chance.
You don’t need to be an actor, but you do need to be available for 4 rehearsals over evenings and weekends at the end of July, as well as all 6 performance dates (which are also mostly evenings and weekends). We will do some improvisational exercises to get a sense of each other, and Tommy and other detainees will give some presentations about their experiences. Then we will create a 10 minute scene that will be integrated with Tommy’s story. Mostly your job will be to act like someone surprised at and exhausted by being locked in a cage.
In either case all you have to do is send us an email to get the ball rolling to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to play games make the Subject: D&D Player. Tell us in 150 words or less what your connection to the game is, what you do now, and why you want to play.
If you want to experiment with what it is like to be locked in a 10 x 20 ft cage in a safe theatrical setting make the Subject: G20 Detainee. Tell us in 150 words what you do with your time on this planet and why you’d like top be involved.
IN THE WINGS: Episode One – David Ferry – The first in a series on the Dora Mavor Moore Awards with special correspondent A. Jelly Konstruct
At the Dora nominee press conference David Ferry was announced at the winner of the 2011 Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award given to a Canadian artist who demonstrates excellence in the performing arts, and is dedicated to advocating to being and ambassador for the arts. It is awarded each year by The City of Toronto. Below is his acceptance speech.
I am so honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Barbara Hamilton Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts/ I am humbled to be among the superb company of previous recipients: all artists I so fortunately know or have known and worked with. Each of them have been in their ways trailblazers and mentors, and I don’t know if I can actually carry their laundry, but I have been fortunate to have walked under their lights.
RH Thompson spoke last year so eloquently about the lack of funding and proper physical housing for our truly groundbreaking theatre companies here, and he sounded a chord for me about those things I often feel we don’t get right in Toronto. More and more I believe that as an artist I have to take increased responsibility for those things which are not happening in our Theatre community, instead of placing responsibility solely at the feet of others. Daunting , I know, but there are some simple things that I believe I can take more responsibility for:
Firstly, mentoring …look at the fine work Martha Burns has done getting younger people into theatre;
Secondly, political activism…RH Thomson and Eric Peterson both have been strong engagers in political dialogues of many shapes and types…and thirdly by reaching out to the larger public in increasingly creative ways…Albert has been engaged in using this space to do just that, just as Douglas Cambell did before him with The Canadian Players and George Luscombe did with TWP.
And thirdly we must find new ways to speak about our art-form in an intelligent way to the world at large.
I despair to see the decreased coverage of the Theatre in the traditional media (and the critics are not the enemy here, they despair too I am certain); a Media that is morphing as we speak, and which is, world-wide, giving up the ground of serious arts coverage to banal consumerism and unformulated pop reporting. I find myself wondering what I can do to affect change in how our art-form is covered and disseminated via alternative models? Perhaps ways not entertained by our unions and producers when the templates for our current artist/producer agreements were first conceived.
I despaired to see, during our recent federal election, such rampant cynicism on display. Many of us vented via social networking in an unprecedented way. But my despair came from my personal realization that I will accomplish nothing in trying to convince the public at large that what I do, what we do is essential to a healthy, pluralistic society by simply harping to people of a similar mindset via Facebook; but only by becoming active amongst my neighbours in the larger community..by actually volunteering for a political party, or lobbying group or community organization..by engaging in a true dialogue with the community beyond mine perhaps I can make a real impression about what should be important to us as a culture.
And I despair when I see reduced opportunities for younger artists in the theatre due to economic restrictions and reduced work opportunities that can actually pay a living wage. I know that offering mentorship to those artists is essential, we are after all part of a long line of people who, going before us, pass out their hands to those that follow, and this we must do too…if we do, while engaging in the outward looking, activist dialogue I mentioned just now, those young artists will pass back to those that follow them the ethics of engagement, and they will create new forms, not just Konstantin’s new forms of theatre, but new forms of communication that penetrate and influence the larger more distant circles of community within which we are just a small (but essential) wheel within a wheel a turning.
Well we have been busy bees here at Praxis, writing drafts, making proposals, cutting deals, and generally hustling the way that a company must in an era where not much is going to come for free to a small indie company with no operating funding, office space, or corporate sponsors (although we’re not against having the right ones).
The end result is that we have 3 different productions at 3 different stages of development that we invite you to attend and engage with between now and the end of the year.
So we are using “season” in a new way with this announcement.
Usually, it denotes a series of final products. This model doesn’t work for a small company that often integrates presentations and performances into our development process. So our season has one show we are doing the initial exploration on, one that will be mid-development, and one that is in fact our final product.
Each show has its own relationship to how it will interact with its audience through this site and we invite you to participate in whatever way interests you:
Maybe you just like to go to the shows and read the posts; maybe something about a show infuriated you and you need to interact with us about it; maybe you will send us your thoughts or ideas when we ask for them (or when we don’t). Or maybe something else we haven’t thought of that the internet is about to invent will present itself as a possibility.
Read below to see what we’re up to.
Thanks for involving yourself with our work and communications as you see fit!
Dungeons & Dragons, (not) The Musical @ The Toronto Fringe Festival
Created by Aislinn Rose
Stage One – Just looking into it
Praxis Theatre will be playing host to three Dungeons & Dragons tournaments, where audience members can come and go throughout each adventure or stay for the full 6-hour marathon.
Part performance experiment, part research project, the events will feature some of Toronto’s favourite actors, directors and comedians at their nerdiest. While drama nerds and D&D geeks go head to head, live sound & lighting artists will create a unique atmosphere for each tournament.
Snakes & Lattes in the heart of the Annex has kindly offered their space for our shenanigans, so audience members will be able to enjoy coffee, yummy treats, and an authentic D&D in the basement experience.
July 10th, 4pm to 10pm , July 14th, 7pm to 1am, July 16th, 5pm to 11pm Venue:
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
After being translated into seven languages, attracting a concerned following around the globe, and forming the basis for a The Fifth Estate documentary, this Facebook note is a major artifact documenting the deterioration of Canadian civil rights in the 21st Century. We look forward to working with Tommy to continue this important discussion through a live performance based on his experience that is integrated with online media.
Dates: Aug 4th @5pm, Aug 6th @ 2:30pm, Aug 7th @ 10pm, Aug 10th @ 7:30pm, Aug 12th @ midnight, Aug 13th @10pm
Jesus Chrysler produced in association with Theatre Passe Muraille
Written by Tara Beagan. Directed by Michael Wheeler. Starring Margaret Evans
Stage 3 – This is it. We spent a long time making it – now we’ll put it on for you.
Jesus Chrysler revolves around 1930s activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts and the work of progressive Toronto-based theatre artists of the 1930s.
An intimate, immersive production at the centre of which is legendary Toronto activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts. An unsung icon of 1930s Toronto theatre, Jim had her work banned by a Prime Minister before enlisting in The Spanish Civil War, becoming its sole female ambulance driver. Jesus Chrysler invites a select audience to explore Jim’s life and loves along with her, in a show that engages with and questions the intersection of art and politics.
Dates: Nov 29 to Dec 11th Location: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, just north of Queen St. West, east of Bathurst Street.
Here’s some Saturday morning videos that hint humanity may not be doomed after all.
1 Brigitte dePape Ted Talk
Yesterday Brigitte dePape was the top news story across Canada as “the rogue page” who silently interrupted the Throne Speech that kicked off the first day of the new Parliament.
Wouldn’t you know it – she’s also a theatre artist, performer and articulate advocate for the value culture can contribute to society. (Spoiler alert – she’s not talking the economic value artists bring low-income neighbourhoods, or tourist dollars mega-musicals bring in.) Check out this dramatic monologue/Ted Talk combo she performed as part of last year’s TEDxYouthOttawa. 1/2 way through the clip she finishes the monologue, throws on a dress and starts the Ted Talk part. Wow.
Here are 3 internet/performance-related things I am up to. They’re all completely different and have me thinking about how different people – playwrights, young artists and audiences – can interact with the the internet and performance.
Also, I still like to direct plays and will talk about that from time-to-time too.
Today, as part of ‘PLAYWRIGHTS: Getting Down to Business’, a day of professional development workshops for playwrights organized by PGC, we will discuss social media as it relates to the Canadian playwright. What advice would you give playwrights about how to use social media these days? Leave your advice in the comments before 3pm and maybe we will end up discussing it.
This summer I am leading a FREE program for youth at The Theatre Centre on – you guessed it – online tools and performance.Dates:Monday July 25 – Friday July 29 Time: 10pm -2pm Age: 15-19
This FREE program includes free LUNCHES and a TRANSIT subsidy in an exploration of what tools are available on online, what stories the participants are interested in telling, and how to tell them on the stage in new and exciting ways. Throughout the week, resident companies at The Theatre Centre will join the workshop giving participants a rare window into how cutting-edge artists are working with the newest technologies to create their work. Click here to sign up or learn more.
The latest post explores who Lu Xun was (Western audiences can understand him as having many parallels to Chekhov). Luminato has also launched their own Smartphone Ap to keep track of everything that is going on when the mega-festival hits town, which means you can now also buy tickets instantly via the small computer many of us keep in our pockets.
My involvement is contributing to a panel that also includes Obsidian Theatre Artistic Director Philip Akin and Modern Times Artistic Director Soheil Parsa. We will NOT be discussing the internet. Mostly we will be talking about theatre, aesthetics and identity. Although Philip has been an early adopter of the The Blog, so you never know. Also I guess my aesthetic in some way involves the internet. Never mind.
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”