Date: 2012 July

July 30, 2012, by
1 comment

by Michael Wheeler

If you were in Toronto this summer it was hard not to run into the two weeks of heavy construction at Queen and Spadina. In this video, long-time friend of the show Amy Pagnotta serenades the construction with a dedicated version of ‘Downtown’ filmed by Vanessa Guillen.

The Toronto Star reports that Toronto appears poised to adopt run-off voting in 2018. In this video, Dave Meslin, who spearheads RaBIt (Ranked Ballot Initiative), explains what the deal is with run-off voting on The Morning Show. Separate from the information, it’s fun to watch how ‘Mez’ slowly wins over the hosts who seem unimpressed with his props at the top of the piece – before realizing this guy is totally truthing them.

Actress Amy Rutherford has established herself as one of the top theatre artists in Toronto appearing recently in shows by Studio 180, Volcano Theatre, Necessary Angel, Tarragon Theatre and The Wrecking Ball. She also adopted a starling briefly and wrote/filmed a v-log for Ryeberg about it. The above is of the moment she releases the bird back onto the world. You can read/watch the whole piece here.

The Pop Group’s Fierce Monsters at Summerworks is the most Praxis non-Praxis show ever created. Produced by Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose, starring frequent Praxis performers Margaret Evans and Laura Nordin, directed by Tim Buck 2 performer and You Should Have Stayed Home illustrator Jody Hewston and written by Dungeons and Dragons participant Becca Buttigieg – it’s a no-brainer to end up on the blog. Check out the video they made about weapon training for the show (It’s a Western!)

This is just a pic for social sharing

July 25, 2012, by
2 comments

by Michael Wheeler

Last week traffic to praxistheatre.com exploded when we re-published David Ferry’s Facebook letter asking the under thirty-five set why they were not outraged by the firing of Ken Gass as Artistic Director at Factory Theatre.

When Praxis Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose responded with a letter of her own, this went to a whole new level, with more people coming to the site in one day than saw all three of the shows we presented in 2011 combined.

The pieces, as well as the intelligent and thoughtful comments that followed them have motivated a few responses on the internet:

* Producer and marketer Sue Edworthy put together a Wordle for all four of the major notes written on the subject including Facebook notes by Chris Coculuzzi and Lisa Norton.

* U of T theatre prof Holger Syme related the conversation to some observations he has had on Toronto theatre lately. The two big ones: 1)Where are the young people on our stages? 2) Where is our classical work outside of Stratford and Shaw?

* Director and Artistic Director Jacob Zimmer used the Small Wooden Shoe blog to reference this conversation and also apply for the position of Factory Theatre Artistic Director. One condition: The Board of Directors must resign by the end of the year.

* A number of prominent artists are calling for a boycott of The Factory Theatre. They have set up a website: savethefactory.ca which outlines why. In reference to artists boycotting the theatre’s season, Ken Gass had this to say in the comments of a recent Torontoist article on the story:

I just want to make clear, I would NEVER ask artists to pull their work from the season, no matter who is running the theatre. [...] there are many arenas of protest other than ones that will impact on the financial welfare of artists.

July 24, 2012, by
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Trailer for His Girl Friday the 1940s film. Directed by Howard Hawks, starring Cary Grant

by Krista Jackson

It’s hard to believe it is the middle of July and in less than a month we begin rehearsals for our own Directors Projects. Despite the long hours in the rehearsal hall, being in all three theatres tech-ing, production meetings, teaching academy sessions and joining the audiences of Present Laughter and His Girl Friday on the terrace for my pre-show chats, this internship has felt like a sabbatical. I have had the time to read novels and plays from the mandate.

I am learning phonetics from the amazing voice and dialect coach Laurann Brown. (we are using the IPA while working on an American Southern dialect). I have regular Alexander sessions with the Victoria Heart; a technique I have not explored since theatre school. I have also had a Manners of The Mandate tutorial from Sharry Flett and look forward to a more intensive workshop with Guy Bannerman and Sharry before the season ends to incorporate these details into my project.

My first choice for the project was approved! I I will be doing two shorter American one acts with the same set. George S. Kaufman’s If Men Played Cards As Women Do will transition into Alice Gerstenberg’s Overtones. Kaufman has four men meeting to play cards and Gerstenberg has two childhood friends – with a history – meeting for tea. She gives each woman “a primitive self” who speaks what she is really thinking and feeling. The shows compliment each other even though they are very different in style.

Trailer for His Girl Friday by John Guare. Directed by Jim Mezon, assistant directed by Krista Jackson

I submitted Tina Howe’s translation of The Bald Soprano by Ionesco as my third choice and a John Galsworthy’s short Punch and Go. It turns out it was also Associate Director Eda Holmes’ second choice when she was did this internship in 2001. I am in the process of casting and have lined up some fantastic ensemble members so far, but i’ll let you know the full cast in the next post and let you in on some design ideas as well. It is a very small budget but we have the furniture, props and costume warehouses to pull from. This past winter, all the costumes at the warehouse were barcoded and ensemble members who have been here for many seasons have their own closets.

The Festival celebrated a second round of openings the first week of July which included His Girl Friday! Tonight is our first dress rehearsal for Hedda Gabler. Bill Schmuck’s set and costumes, Kevin Lamotte’s lights and Todd Charlton’s sound design are gorgeous and I can’t wait to see everyone in their costumes. Investigating Ibsen again (I played Regina in aproduction of Ghosts) from the other side of the table with Martha Henry has been a masterclass. Martha has put me to work staging the two transitions and I have been soaking up her vocabulary of over fifty years in the theatre.

A few of her insights from my notes…

“Props have a life of their own – once they expose themselves. Don’t put them away until they have finished accomplishing their purpose.”

“All the motivations come from the other person.”

“Actors’ technique is knowing how to arrange your being so that you are emotionally availablein the moment.”

I have also learned that the key to a characters’ journey can lie in a single word and thatsometimes the pronoun as the operative word is your friend!

Xo Krista

July 20, 2012, by
25 comments

A response to “An open letter to the newer generations of Toronto theatre artists from one of the old farts

Dear Old Farts,

You are absolutely right: “The issue is far larger than the firing of one AD”.

This is perhaps why you don’t see as many young members of our arts community getting up in arms about the firing of one AD as you might like. It’s not because we’re apathetic, it’s because we’re busy fighting those bigger issues and making art.

We’re opposing our governments at all levels. There are those who wish to corporatize the arts, and those who wish to politicize them, either by cutting funding or by moving resources away from arms-length funding bodies and into community events and festivals where the risk of political or dissenting art is low. And, in some cases, not allowed.

We’re engaging in municipal processes that are supposed to be about creating new culture plans for our city, to determine cultural priorities, how money should be invested, how best to build and maintain a cultural ecology. We wrote about those consultations extensively here on praxistheatre.com. While I tweeted live from many of them, I was surrounded by young, active, vocal members of our community. Though I must say, it is rather dispiriting to realize you’ve been invited to contribute to a document that was written before you arrived.

Throughout those rooms the voices present asked that the city talk about art not just in terms of financial investment and return, but about the less tangible contributions that a healthy cultural community can offer a vibrant city. You’ll not see any of those voices included in the new culture plan. When it became clear that any voices in opposition to “creative class theory” would not be included in the report, I asked that my name be removed from the “Consultation Participant List”. I was not consulted, and nor were many of the people in those rooms.

We’ve been speaking up about our own professional association that was built based on old models of making work that no longer reflect today’s realities. Young artists often find the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association to be one of the biggest roadblocks to the development of their work, another issue we’ve written about extensively. You’ll find no apathy on this topic. Younger artists have been working together for years to bring change to this important but out-dated organization, and that work is hopefully about to pay off, despite the fact that some of the old farts have been vocally opposed to reforms that would empower the younger generation of theatre-makers.

The Toronto Indie Caucus is made up of “emerging” and “submerging” artists alike and populated by some of the most driven and passionate young people in this community, and it continues to grow. The work of these artists has contributed to some highly significant votes for change within the association, the development of an Independent Theatre Review Committee, and a possible new indie agreement on the horizon. Let’s hope these extensive consultations to which we have lent our voices will actually take those voices to heart.

We have also spoken out about Luminato, our most recently created arts festival. It was not created by a collective of artists, but by two Toronto businessmen who used their connections with the government to get millions of dollars in funding to create an arts festival as a way of luring tourist dollars back to the city after the SARS crisis. They wonder why, after 6 years they’re failing to find a dedicated audience, community support or “brand awareness”, though I don’t suppose I need to remind our readership that their most recent season included no Toronto theatre artists in its lineup.

And finally, we’re fighting those very structural models upon which the Factory Theatre, and companies like it, is based. For years, arts organizations have been forced to fit into a certain mold in order to appease the various funding bodies. So we’ve incorporated, we’ve set ourselves up as not-for-profits, we’ve created our boards of directors, and we’ve gone after charitable status. This worked for a number of years while there was enough money to go around, but that’s no longer the case.

So we’re researching, we’re investigating best practices in other cities, and some of us are working with Arts Action Research in a program called Theatres Leading Change, which is all about discovering new models that are best for the work that we create, and the way we go about creating it.

When we’re asked to consult, we show up. When there are debates and votes happening at City Hall, we’re there too. When Equity tries to bully us, we get together and push for reforms. When our institutional leadership fails us, we speak out.  Also, when elections happen, many of us work our arses off canvassing, letter writing, phone calling, and video-making.

This is not apathy, but a quiet community of passionate and dedicated artists working away at changing what no longer works. I am not silent, I sit on no fence, and I am not complicit. I’m just offering my voice to a different fight.

In “The Empty Spaces, Or, How Theater Failed America”, Mike Daisey had this to say:

“I’ve gone drinking with the artistic directors of the biggest theaters in the country and listened to them explain that they know the system is broken and they feel trapped within it, beholden to board members they’ve made devil’s deals with, shackled to the ship as it goes down. I’ve heard their laughter, heard them call each other dinosaurs, heard them give thanks that they’ll be retired in 10 years.”

So yes, you’re right, this issue is larger than one AD, and those bigger issues are the ones we’re trying to tackle.

Yours in action,

Aislinn Rose

July 18, 2012, by
51 comments

I have been following with interest the events and actions surrounding the recent firing of Ken Gass at Factory Theatre.

I have seen several letters from some extraordinary artists that offer actions or pathways forward in response to the Board of Factory actions, and have contributed my own modest thoughts to the debate.

One of the things that alarms me is the relative absence of voices from the younger generation of theatre artists…ADs of project centric companies, authors, actors, dramaturgs, designers,producers.

Not to generalize too much, but I have seen very few signatures on the various letters seeking either extreme, moderate or conciliatory activity…in fact very little commentary at all from the majority of Toronto theatre artists under the age of, say, 35. Perhaps many signed the initial petition that garnered 3000+ signatures, but where are the voices NOW?

I am not suggesting that the younger voices need to agree with Mr. Healey, Mr Walker, Mr. Moodie, Ms Stolk or Ms Gibson MacDonald and their various suggestions for action..but I am suggesting that perhaps more than any other group, you have a vital stake in what is happening and you need to express your opinions.

I ask myself a few questions here:

Why is there such relative silence from your generations of theatre artists?

How have I and my contemporaries failed in setting an example for you, so that you do not feel compelled to speak up in such a time?

Why do we as a community of artists have so little to say politically about our own institutions in comparison to similar communities from other cultures..USA, Britain, France, Germany as well as the non-Eurocentric communities of theatre artists in the world?

Others of my generation of Canadian theatre artists have suggested that you are simply waiting, like Prince Charles for the old guard to slip away so you can take over the institutions that have been built.

Some have suggested that you live in fear of rocking the boat and so not getting hired by whoever does take over theatres such as Factory.

Some say you are just rigid with apathy about the issues that have challenged Canadian theatre artists from the beginning of our short professional theatre history. We are after-all, for all practical purposes, just 70 years old as a theatre culture.

But I have worked with many of you, and I have sensed a fierce intelligence and passion inside you. So your silence I know is not simply due to the above.

Ken Gass


Is it that you don’t feel these issues are YOUR issues?

Because, I believe they are. The real issues at hand here are the issues of artist voice and artists’ moral rights to have a say in how the theatres that live or die by our work as artists are run. The issue of Board control over artists and their institutions has been a challenge to our Theatre since the first professional regional theatres were born out of the ashes of amateur theatre and throughout the evolution of large regionals, the alternative movements of the 70s and early 80s and the new wave theatres of the 90s and beyond. T

The issue is far larger than the firing of one AD (one, I might add, that has had a major impact on many of your careers…it was not after all the board of Factory that gave you a break when you needed it was it?) The issue is one of ownership of voice through the determination of how our institutions are run. If you do not speak out on this issue (and again, I care not what side you may come from, I ask only that you speak) you are in danger of backing yourselves into a corner of irrelevance.

When Sara Kane’s play “Blasted” was first produced in England, it received some pretty vicious press. The major artists of various ages in England were quick to respond through a very vocal and activist series of letters to editors, op-ed articles and broadcast debates. Many of the senior “established” artists such as Carol Churchill, Harold Pinter and many more went to the barricades to fight for creative voice. This has happened in England, the US, France, Germany (as I mentioned earlier) again and again when artists and their institutions are attacked.

Why are we so complacent here?

Why are you being so silent?

The blogs and papers and theatre lobbies should be abuzz with thoughts, opinions, letters from YOU (DOB 1977 and beyond)..yet I sense in sad recognition that the issue is slipping so quickly to just another Facebook entry-du-jour.

Please do not let that happen. Please do not be silent. Theatres like Factory were built with the blood, sweat and tears (and physical/mental/spiritual currency) of your predecessors in our community. They were not built to be passed on to board membership after board membership for patriarchal stewardship. They were built to be passed on to you! And when I see with wonder the explosion of new babies in your circles, it bears remarking that what you inherit, you will too pass on to them.

But Goddamn it, you have to stand up to be counted first. You have to get off the fence. You have to speak. All silence is the silence of complicity in your own future being determined by others.

With respect, solidarity and hope.

David Ferry

July 16, 2012, by
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by Anthea Foyer

Transmedia storytelling is becoming much more prevalent. Even if you have not heard the word you have probably experienced it, or a part of it, in some way in both popular and alternative culture. Transmedia storytelling is, essentially, a technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Audience engagement is of prime importance and a wide range of techniques are used to this end. Within each story these acts of engagement, all the platforms and actions are narratively synched to each other.

Alternate Reality Games {ARGs}, can be considered a form of transmedia storytelling. They are interactive narrative experiences that use the real world as a platform to tell stories and, generally using the internet as a hub, the audience becomes integral as they can affect the story by their ideas or actions.

Depending on your viewpoint this is either TERRIFYING! How can you control a narrative arc when everything is changing and the audience gets input! OR EXCITING! The planet as your stage, a direct connection to your audience, storytelling that is kept on its toes as it adapts to the participants.

I tend towards the second option, which is why I think that theatre creators have so much to offer and to learn from ARGs. The ‘live-ness’ of theatre, adapting to the unexpected audience reaction, the real world engagement – all of these traits that are inherent to the theatre experience are also key to making a great ARG experience. From the ARG side, I think that theatre creators can learn a lot about gaming techniques, online engagement strategies and non-linear narrative from the digital/interactive components of ARGs.

The Mission Business is a recently launched, Toronto based company that is exploring the space between the two. They describe themselves as ‘an adventure laboratory based in Toronto that designs connected live-action and online experiences to thrill you, challenge you, and make you think.’ Their expertise includes expertise in theatre, digital content creation, and game design.

Their inaugural project ZED.TO is an immersive narrative experience about the end of our world. It encourages its participants to engage with the story through various media. These include original online content, pervasive-style interactions and performance events linked to major arts festivals across Toronto throughout 2012. By charting the rise and fall of ByoLogyc, a fictional biotech corporation, ZED.TO is an investigation into the hubris of mankind in its hurry to innovate and improve itself – regardless of the price.

This location based story stretches the boundaries of actor, audience, stage and experience. It gives an audience an immersive experience that can be accessed through a variety of outlets from online, live events, live theatre experiences and a variety of other media. This project is a great way to get immersed in the world of ARGs and experience location based storytelling first hand.


Transmedia 101 presents: ARG 101: ZED.TO from 7-9pm on Tuesday, July 17th at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Center.

Transmedia 101 is a community building initiative that encourages collaboration between both transmedia professionals and creatives, innovators, & instigators from ancillary industries/interests who desire to learn more about how to apply transmedia strategies to their properties & projects.

Anthea Foyer is a digitnista who makes beautiful things using technology. She believes wonderful things happen when worlds collide – on and offline. She is also one of the organizers of Transmedia 101.

July 14, 2012, by
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YouTube Video for pomme is french for apple

The Patron’s Pick (one for each official Fringe venue) is decided after every company’s 4th show. Selection is based on a combination of cash ticket sales after the first four shows coupled with media reception and overall ‘buzz’ of the production.

100% of the tickets available for Patrons’ Pick performances can be sold in advance. Get your tickets ahead of time at fringetoronto.com or 416-966-1062.

PATRON’S PICK PERFORMANCES OCCUR ON SUNDAY JULY 15TH

Tara Grammy in MAHMOUD. Photo by Dan Epstein

Rare
Tarragon Mainspace, 9:15 pm

Mahmoud
Tarragon Extra Space, 9:15 pm,

Tinfoil Dinosaur
Solo Room, 7:30 pm

One In A Million (a micromusical)
Randolph Theatre, 9:15 pm

A Funeral For Clowns
Annex Theatre, 9:45 pm

Help Yourself
George Ignatieff Theatre, 9:30 pm

Sam Mullins in Tinfoil Dinosaur

The Other Three Sisters
St. Vladimir’s Theatre, 6:45 pm

Medicine
Helen Gardiner Phelan, 9:15 pm

21 Days
Robert Gill, 6:45 pm

pomme is french for apple
Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 6:45 pm

With Love And A Major Organ
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 7:30 pm

The Dinner
Factory Mainspace, 9:15 pm


July 13, 2012, by
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ANTIGONE - Photo by Scarlet O'Neill

by Sarah Thorpe

It’s been interesting being involved in two separate productions that both dealt with Toronto’s G20 Summit. In You Should Have Stayed Home (Praxis Theatre and The Original Norwegian, Summerworks 2011), the production focused on the experience of the innocent victims – just some of the nearly 1000 people arrested & detained that weekend. In ANTIGONE (Soup Can Theatre, Toronto Fringe 2012), the Greek drama now set in Toronto during that summer of 2010, two sides of the conflict are explored: the authority figure trying to maintain order and civil obedience, and those who rebel for the sake of honour.

You Should Have Stayed Home gave the audience a glimpse into how those who were arrested and detained were brutally treated by the police, and how appalling the detainment centres were – unsanitary, cramped, and horribly disorganized; all of this coming from Tommy Taylor’s first hand account. Tommy had been standing near the protestors at the Novotel Hotel, and was swept up in the mass arrests and thrown into a cage overflowing with other men. While many police officers yelled at and mocked their ‘prisoners’, others were very sympathetic and knew how wrong this was, detaining people for several hours in makeshift jails with barely any food and water.

Sarah behind & left of Tommy as a G20 detainee - Photo by Will O'Hare

Soup Can’s production of ANTIGONE ties Sophocles’ tragedy with Toronto’s political climate during the G20. The story centres on Antigone, a young Theban woman determined to bury and honour her two brothers, both slain fighting on opposite sides of a senseless war. This act, in violation of an edict put forth by Creon, the iron-willed King of Thebes, forces her to both confront and defy his authority in the name of principle – a brave and noble choice with costly consequences.

Searing images of both the G20 and the Occupy movement are infused into the production, like the Chorus in combat positions, wearing gas masks and brandishing batons, and a chain link fence that serves as a place for protestors to hang their homemade signs, and also as a divide between Antigone and the outside world after she is arrested. Director Scott Dermody’s inspiration for a G20-infused production of the play came to him when he read a newspaper article about a pair of brothers, one a police officer, and the other a G20 protestor, reminding him of Antigone’s two brothers.

Being involved in both YSHSH and ANTIGONE has provided me with an opportunity to explore three different points of view: the bystander, the protestor, and the authority figure. There is still much more that needs to be explored about the G20. A recent Toronto Star article titled “The G20 Summit: Where Are We Now?” (written by staff reporters Jennifer Yang and Jayme Poisson, published June 29th 2012) states that the “Canadian Civil Liberties Association has consistently maintained that only a public inquiry can make sense of the G20 summit and its complex security operation … Instead, Canadians have been given a hodgepodge of disparate reports, reviews and inquiries … Taken as a whole, the reports provide snapshots of the G20 story, but no wide-angle view of the overall picture.”

The G20 will continue to fascinate and anger while more reports and reviews are written, and as investigations develop, I hope to see more artistic pieces develop that explore different facets of the G20 in all their complexities while we hope to eventually get “the overall picture’.


Sarah Thorpe is the Co-Producer of  ANTIGONE at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, and the Artistic Director of Soup Can Theatre. Click here for dates & times of the final three performances of ANTIGONE.

July 12, 2012, by
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Text:

I am horizontal
You are vertical
You are the mountain
I am the valley
I am the Earth
You are the Sun
I am the shield
You are the sword
I am the wound
You are the pain
I am the night
You are God
You are the fire
I am the water
I am naked
You are in me
I am horizontal
But not every time
You are vertical
But for the time being
I am vertical
The mountain of orgasm
You are horizontal
Near me

~ Cross, by Rafał Wojaczek

Image:

Sound:


Intersection Theatre presents S-27 at the Toronto Fringe Festival directed by Yolanda Ferrato

Click here for dates, times & ticket information.



July 7, 2012, by
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Text:

IRINA. [Sobbing] Where? Where has everything gone? Where is it all? Oh my God, my God! I’ve forgotten everything, everything… I don’t remember what is the Italian for window or, well, for ceiling… I forget everything, every day I forget it, and life passes and will never return, and we’ll never go away to Moscow… I see that we’ll never go….

~ The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

Image:

Sound:


The Other Three Sisters

Written & Directed by Johnnie Walker
Starring Morgan Norwich, Alexandra Parravano, Jamie Arfin, and Julian De Zotti
Designed by Lindsay Anne Black
Stage Managed by Jeffrey Dale

On now at the Toronto Fringe Festival

Tickets: $10

St. Vlad’s Theatre, 620 Spadina Avenue

Click here for the Fringe Festival website with all the dates & times, and click here for the company website for more information.

Photo of Morgan Norwich, Jamie Arfin and Alexandra Parravano (l-r) by Greg Wong.