Date: 2012 January

January 27, 2012, by
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“Being realistic is the most common traveled road to mediocrity.”
~ Will Smith

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Tahirah Stanley is an actor/activist in Toronto. She is also the Founder/Project Coordinator for a project called Theatre for Peace. Theatre for Peace is a project that seeks to empower youth, ages 14-18, through the performing arts (acting, singing, dancing, spoken word etc). Over the course of the past 3 months the youth worked with professional artists to develop monologues, dances, songs etc. All of the pieces were then compiled and put together to make a show; OUR STORY.

OUR STORY is a play that is written and performed by the Theatre for Peace participants. It is about their experiences with love, defeat, violence, friendship, and discovery, among many other things. Through OUR STORY you will get a glimpse into the lives of these young people through the dramatic retelling of the issues they face and the joys they find being a young person in today’s society.

Our Story will be taking place today @ 2:30pm @ 60 Rowena Drive. Check out the poster for more information.

January 24, 2012, by
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Small Theatre Administrative Facility is giving away a FREE Kobo to indie theatre artists. Click the pic to fill out a short survey about indie theatre to be entered in the draw.

Here’s a round up of some interesting thoughts and ideas from the local theatrosphere:

  • Previous Praxis Theatre contributor Lindsay Schweitz has been writing one blog post a day for an entire year. Each month has been devoted to a different topic dedicated to challenging the way Lindsay thinks about and lives her life, with her readers picking the final month’s topic. Check out what they picked.
January 20, 2012, by
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“Reality exists when the other person walks into the room. Life is other people.”
-Petra, “Other People” by Christopher Shinn

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Ben Lewis appears in Other People, the story of three ambitious young New Yorkers who struggle with sex, desire and their art over Christmas in NYC’s East Village.

Other People is presented by the Mutual Friends Co-operative at The Young Centre for The Performing Arts.

Click here to check out the website for the show.

Click here to buy tickets.

January 19, 2012, by
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'St. Colle' by Jody Hewston. Click to enlarge.

Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle became a culture hero this week when he surprised the media, Mayor Rob Ford, and pretty much anyone else who was paying attention. Two hours into what was supposed to be three days of intense budget debate he moved a set of proposals that essentially rewrote Toronto’s municipal budget.

Yep, that’s right, pretty much everything that was advocated for in our previous post, went down when the rookie Councillor, who had previously sided with Rob Ford as often as not, became the face and instrument by which Toronto got its services back. Rob Ford’s budget was rewritten and passed in a single day astonishing even seasoned observers.

The eventual vote was 23-21, as other centrist Councillors joined Colle along with progressive pols who had been advocating saving services from the beginning. (Note to progressive councillors: Thanks – you guys are heroes too – it’s just important to encourage this behaviour.)

Is this a turning point for Toronto city politics? Certainly overnight it seems that Rob Ford has become a lame duck mayor. In Federal or Provincial politics if a government’s budget is defeated, the government falls and an election is required. Of course city government doesn’t work the same, but it’s a pretty big deal either way.

As a final note – please draw your attention to the fact that we have suggested a ‘Culture Hero’ is a Councillor who was not involved in the behind the scenes machinations that spared culture funding at the Executive Committee level a few days previous.

This was important because A) It embraces a broad definition of culture that encompasses the complex experience of being a Torontonian and B) takes an approach to cultural advocacy that recognizes saving arts funding while stripping away things like homeless shelters and bus routes is bad strategy that will hurt us in the long run with our allies and fellow citizens.

January 14, 2012, by
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Parkdale-based teens, The Torontonians, perform at Wrecking Ball 11 'Now What?' a theatrical response to Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto

by Michael Wheeler

Toronto culture scored a rare win this week at City Hall as arts grants and reduced library hours became some of the very few measures pulled off the chopping block in the 2012 budget by the City’s Executive Committee before it is voted on by all of City Council next week.

Barring a major backlash or unforeseen circumstances, this means Toronto culture will stay funded at $19/per capita. Arts grants will not be sliced and diced like many important social programs as the current budget suggests, although it is worth noting Toronto will remain dead last in cultural funding amongst major Canadian cities.

Councillor Michael Thompson addresses a standing-room only public consultation held at City Hall by the Creative Capital Initiative

Arts and culture is going to dodge a bullet; unlike fair wages for janitorial staff, shelters for homeless elderly people, swimming pools, a wide variety of community housing initiatives, day care programs, services for recent immigrants, and other essential programs Toronto invests in to promote an equitable and prosperous city.

We have arrived at this state of affairs because of a false crisis created by Mayor Rob Ford by reducing revenue through eliminating the Vehicle Registration Tax while promising gravy, but finding none.

The idea of a large deficit that must be immediately dealt with through massive cuts is a false narrative designed to shock Torontonians into making senseless choices that, to quote one City Councilor, “will be borne largely on the backs of women and children.”

Viewed in this context, restoring funding for arts and some libraries is a bit of a gut check for culture supporters.

Do we advocate only for ourselves, or are our efforts more broadly focused?

Do we want the arts to be funded because we like art and books (and some of us a paycheque), or is there a grander vision for an ecology in which culture is one important piece of a prosperous, reasonable and just society?

Nightwood Theatre's production of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad opened the same day arts cuts came off the table.

From @margaretatwood to The Creative Capital Initiative, and everything in between, it seems our cumulative disparate voices in support of culture have achieved a resonance that is impossible to ignore at City Hall.

Cultural activism in Toronto has been robust and intelligent over the last few years, with contributions from a wide variety of sectors and art forms. It is possible to view this reprieve as an admission of sorts that we are frigging crazy and can cause problems that are difficult to manage.

A clear and strident message from artists could crystallize the city-wide discontent with The Ford Approach to governance. Likewise, a submissive and satisfied arts sector that is grateful it has been spared the rod (this year), is just what this administration needs to push through a series of cuts that will impact our most vulnerable citizens.

With arts cuts off the table we have a unique opportunity to advocate not out of fear, but from the deep-seeded belief that a society should be set up to defend its least fortunate members. Time to get off the ferris wheel and finish re-writing this budget.

Michael Wheeler can be found on Twitter via @michaelcwheeler

January 12, 2012, by
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There is a village
which sits on my shoulders
like a vulture …
Despite this
O my village
I uninvited relate with you
as you fly
within and outside of me
like a vulture

- Sukhveer Singh

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Sasha Kovacs is director of The Washing Machine at The Next Stage Theatre Festival Jan 5-15th 2012.

Learn more about the show here.

Buy tickets for the show here.

Learn more about The Next Stage Festival here.


January 9, 2012, by
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Modern Love written by and starring Jessica Moss was one of 6 sold out shows on Saturday, but the only one to include a rickroll

The fifth edition of the Toronto Fringe-run festival, designed to take companies and shows that have emerged through the Fringe circuit to The Next Stage (get it?) is having a banner year for box office sales.

The first three days of tickets sales each set records. By the fourth day of the festival, six of the ten shows were sold out, including a raucous crowd that packed the Factory Theatre Mainspace to see Montreal’s Uncalled For and their Just For Laughs Comedy Award winning Hypnogogic Logic, based very loosely on the dream logic that exists while falling asleep. Oh btw. hope you have your tickets to see legendary Fringe clowns Moro And Jasp, as their entire run at the festival is sold out already

Just as important as the sheer number of theatregoers, is the much younger demographics attending The Next Stage than your average theatre production. One imagines this will be interesting to any Artistic Director or GM contemplating their non-subscription based ticket sales over the past few years of declining box office in Toronto theatre, as this type of success demonstrates a demand for theatre from a cohort that has sorely been missing.

As this is the Fringe’s last Next Stage Festival with Executive Director Gideon Arthurs at the helm, hats of to him and his team for engineering this success-in-progress, and hats off to The Tarragon Theatre for snagging a GM familiar with a future audience for new Canadian theatre.

January 6, 2012, by
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Dear Valued Praxis Reader/Patron/Engager,

No Seriously. It would help.

We have been around since 2004 making ten original plays and blogging since 2006. We have no government operating funding or corporate sponsorships. Everything we make or communicate is supported by A) The occasional project grant, B) Box office revenue C)  Labour donated by Praxis artist/producers, D) Cash donations from people like you.

Right now – for the next 2 days – in pursuit of bolstering option D – you have the option to donate to Praxis Theatre and support the work we do online and on the stage and receive a charitable receipt.

In the past week, we have been selected by NOW Magazine and Torontoist as a company to watch in 2012. It’s an exciting time for us and it feels like our potential will be in large part determined by our resources. Which is where you come in – with a $25 donation – to support relevant, engaged communication and performance.

Thanks! We’ll use it wisely.

Team Praxis

Click here to donate via the Theatre Passe Muraille Canada Helps page, and be sure to select Praxis Theatre in the fund/designation drop-down box.

January 5, 2012, by
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Streets of Berlin, will you miss me?
Streets of Berlin, will you care?
Streets of Berlin, will you cry out
if I vanish into thin air?

~ Streets of Berlin from BENT, by Martin Sherman

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Photo by Scarlet O'Neill Photography

Soup Can Theatre‘s critically acclaimed show Love is a Poverty You Can Sell is returning to the stage as part of the 2012 Next Stage Festival.

The show pays tribute to the timeless music and musical influence of German composer Kurt Weill with a production that marries the bold and naked theatrical style he and writer/director Bertolt Brecht pioneered with the bravado of traditional musical theatre – all with the ambiance of a 1920′s Berlin cabaret program.

Playing @ Factory Theatre (upstairs bar) $10, Jan 5th to 15th – Click here for dates, times & tickets.