Date: 2013 March

March 28, 2013, by
7 comments

Civil Debates 1

by Aislinn Rose

Last year, after the firing of Ken Gass from Factory Theatre, David Ferry and I exchanged open letters on this site. David’s letter, addressed to the younger generation of theatre artists, first appeared on Facebook.  He asked why the newer generation of artists was so silent on the issue. Was it apathy? Had he and his contemporaries failed the next generation by not setting a good example?

“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?”

I responded by saying I felt the issue was larger than the firing of one Artistic Director, and that an assumption could not be made that silence on one point was an indication of apathy on all points. I talked about this generation’s participation in Toronto’s Culture Consultations, about our work with TAPA & Arts Action Research’s Theatres Leading Change, about the Indie Caucus and our ongoing struggles to bring necessary changes to an important but outdated institution that is the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, and more.

“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.”

While it was clear that neither of us was going to suggest the firing had been handled well, we certainly had come out on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what the response to the situation should be.

What was most compelling was the intense, articulate, and passionate debate that appeared in the comments sections of these posts. Across generations most commenters were willing to sign their names to their ideas and opinions. It became clear the greatest value to be derived from our disparate viewpoints was the space that was created between the two, allowing for discussion on all the murkiness and grey in between.

On Monday, April 1st, we’re bringing this discussion into a physical space and we’re asking our community to join us in that murkiness. The debate structure we’ve chosen, based on the Canadian parliamentary model, requires a bold, clear statement, allowing for our incredible speakers to address their opposing viewpoints with passion and rigour:

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

I want to be very clear about the nature of the discussion I hope this debate will engender. This is a complicated issue, and there is much to be learned on the topic. As a result, I feel I can’t say this enough: we are not coming together to argue. We are coming together to listen, consider and respond.

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts about Civil Debates, “just like the best acting, each debater should have a responsibility to hear the arguments that come before them and respond – not just deliver a prepared statement.”  Our goal is to address more than the firing of one artistic director, or one theatre, or events in one city. We’re addressing larger issues, the results of which could be seen in theatres across this country over the last few years.

Join us on Monday for this important and spirited discussion. I hope you will come with an open mind, a willingness to listen and learn, and even just the slightest chance that someone on this panel might change your mind, regardless of the perspective you came in with.

CIVIL DEBATES

Creative Cities Debate - March 15, 2013

Creative Cities Debate – March 15, 2013

Debate 2: Arts Boards
Hosted by Theatre Centre Managing Director Roxanne Duncan
Moderated by Praxis Theatre Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose
Debaters Franco Boni, Brendan Healy, Gideon Arthurs and Jini Stolk
April 1, 2013; doors 7pm, debates 7.30pm
The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West, at Dovercourt
PWYC at the door.

Twitter Hashtag: #CivilDebates

Click here for more information about the Civil Debates series in partnership between The Theatre Centre & Praxis Theatre.

 

March 26, 2013, by
2 comments

2013.03.12-PSEScholarship-Webv-1290x425

by Ruth Madoc-Jones

It’s Sunday afternoon, March 24th, and I’m sitting in the lounge at Billy Bishop Airport about to catch a flight to Montreal on Porter. I’m going to direct something in the city and I’m happy to have the chance to get away. The airport is always less crowded and chaotic than Pearson and Porter is so convenient it’s crazy! Everyone is dressing in his or her Porter best, the cappuccino is free and the lounge is comfortable.

I read a sign as I walked through: The Toronto Island Airport was the largest airport in Canada in the 1920s.

Just earlier as I had approached Porter pulling my two suitcases behind me, I noticed ahead of me a number of police officers in their day glow cop coats and a group of people gathered at the entrance where the cars and the taxis park. Then I saw they were holding pickets. It was a picket line.

Local 343 at Porter is on strike.

Porter StrikeNow I have never crossed a picket line in my life (as far as I know). I remember at SFU when CUPE was on strike my best friend and I worried we would miss final exams if the strike continued. It didn’t. I have joined strikes before. I have supported many causes intent on protecting workers rights. I fully understand that labour is under attack in this present climate and that the rights and benefits workers have fought for years to gain are in jeopardy. And like I said I’ve never crossed a picket line. That was just the way it was when I was growing up. That was the golden rule.

Sunday I crossed a picket line.

Why? There are so many excuses. Does it matter?

I crossed a picket line.

I wasn’t brave about it. I snuck through the schoolyard so I wouldn’t be seen. I kept my head down. My suitcases dragged in the mud. On approaching the terminal I noticed the Porter bus from Union Station was parked just on the edge of the field with passengers getting on and off far away from the crowd of workers and their placards. People adapted easily and went about their business. The police smiled politely as if to let us know we were safe and not to be afraid of the striking workers.

As I scooted by two young men were handing out pamphlets. They were Porter workers. I took the pamphlet and said ‘Good luck you guys’. They smiled brightly ‘Thanks!’ I wanted to say ‘I’m so sorry I’m crossing the line here, really I am’. But I just put my head down and kept going.

Porter has hired replacement workers to do the work of those who are on strike.  As I made my way though the terminal I kept wondering ‘Are you replacing someone? Are you?’ As I made my way through the terminal hundreds of other passengers made their way to flights or returned home. People helped themselves to the complimentary snacks. And I wondered ‘Did anyone else cross a picket line for the first time today?’

ACTRA has asked its members to support the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 343 by boycotting Porter. I haven’t seen anything from CAEA. I’m not on Facebook, don’t really follow twitter and there is very little about this strike in the media. So who knows about it? And how do we get the information out there?

This little dude thinks Porter workers deserve a living wage and safe working conditions.

This little dude thinks Porter workers deserve a living wage and safe working conditions.

Those of us in the theatre love Porter. It’s so convenient. We fly to Montreal and Ottawa and New York.  Will this strike change that? Will we as a community boycott Porter? I plan to look into a train ticket for my trip home (a VIA Rail ticket can be as low as $39 one way if you book in advance and online).

I just wish I hadn’t crossed that picket line.

Fuellers at Porter have been on strike since January 10th. These workers get paid on average $13.00 an hour. Workers at Pearson doing the same job get $17.00 an hour. Numerous health and safety violations and poverty wages have forced the workers to walk off the job. In a letter to Porter President Robert J. Deluce, Sid Ryan president of the Ontario Federation of Labour states:

“A living wage that enables a household with two working parents and two children to live adequately in Toronto was estimated to be $16.60 in 2008. Workers at Porter, along with all working people in Ontario, deserve a living wage.”

If you want to support these workers you can call Porter at 1-888-619-8622 and ask them to return to the bargaining table or visit www.dontflyporter.com. And if you want some travel options check out Via Rail  or Air Canada .

March 25, 2013, by
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Text:

“But if we want to make it possible for more people to stay together forever—and I’m a fan of long-term relationships, and toughing out the rough patches, etc.—we need to change our expectations…If we’re not good at monogamy and we’re not wired for it… doesn’t it seem a bit nuts to make it the foundation upon which we build our relationships? So long as we insist on doing that, well, we’re asking for it.”

~ Dan Savage, “Divorced From Reality”

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shawnude

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orposter0213Carly Chamberlain is Artistic Producer of Neoteny Theatre and director of the company’s debut production: Overruled by George Bernard Shaw & Romance by Neil Labute.
 
This rare pairing of two very different plays about love, lust, and infidelity runs March 28 – April 6, Wednesdays through Saturdays at Red Sandcastle Theatre (previews Wednesday, March 27). Tickets are available for $10-$15 and tickets can be purchased here.

In celebration of World Theatre Day, the first twenty audience members to arrive for the Wednesday March 27th preview will gain free admittance.
March 20, 2013, by
6 comments

Civil Debates 1

After a successful #CivilDebate 1 on the Creative Cities theories of Richard Florida, we’re excited to announce the debaters for the second resolution in our Civil Debates series:

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

Debating in favour of the resolution:

Franco Boni:

FrancoThe Theatre Centre’s General & Artistic Director Franco Boni has led the organization since 2003, and he is currently working on building its permanent home. Franco is a recognized cultural innovator, facilitator and community builder with a demonstrated track record of restoring financial stability and artistic credibility for local art organizations and festivals for over two decades.

He served as Festival Director of the Rhubarb Festival and Artistic Producer of the SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

He is the inaugural recipient of the Ken McDougall Award for emerging directors, and was awarded the Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, recognizing his outstanding leadership in the development of arts and culture in the City of Toronto.

Brendan Healy:

BrendanOriginally from Montreal, Brendan began his career as an actor, appearing most-notably in Peter Hinton’s production of Greg MacArthur’s Girls! Girls! Girls!, presented at the 2001 TransAmériques Festival.

Since relocating to Toronto over a decade ago, Brendan has established himself as a central figure in the city’s theatre scene and his work has been presented across the country. Notable productions include: Jean Genet’s The Maids, Nina Arsenault’s The Silicone Diaries, Sarah Kane’s Blasted, Martin Crimp’s Fewer Emergencies and Wallace Shawn’s A Thought in Three Parts.

Brendan is a graduate of the National Theatre School’s Directing Program. His productions have garnered multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards and he is a recipient of the Ken McDougall and the Pauline McGibbon awards for directing. Brendan was the associate artist at Crow’s Theatre before becoming the Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times and he is a regular instructor at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Debating against the resolution:

Gideon Arthurs:

GideonGideon is the General Manager of Tarragon Theatre and Artistic Producer for Groundwater Productions.  He is the former Executive Director of the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Before that he worked as Company Manager at Soulpepper Theatre and in fundraising at Ryerson University.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, where he was the past chair of the Media Relations Committee and works with the Indie Caucus, and is on the Board for STAF.

Prior board service includes Pleiades Theatre (Secretary), Public Recordings (Treasurer), and the Paprika Festival (President).  He has produced and directed numerous independent theatre productions at Fringe festivals, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, FemFest, Uno Festival and Summerworks.  He also has two amazing daughters, Olive and Tallulah, who are his primary preoccupation.

Jini Stolk:

Jini Jini was cofounder and Executive Director of Creative Trust, where she worked to strengthen the financial capacity and organizational potential of Toronto’s performing arts companies. As the newly appointed (January 2013) Creative Trust Research Fellow at the Toronto Arts Foundation she hopes to bring those 12 years of experiences and learnings to the City’s wider arts community. Before Creative Trust she was Managing Director of Toronto Dance Theatre, Executive Director of the Toronto Theatre Alliance/Dora Mavor Moore Awards (where she revitalized the half-price ticket booth, T.O. TIX), Associate Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers and General Manager of Open Studio.

She is involved in many community and cultural advocacy activities, and is Chair and a founding steering committee member of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, and a director of the Centre for Social Innovation; Past Vice-President of the Toronto Arts Council and Past-President of Toronto Artscape, Hum dansoundart and Six Stages Theatre Festival. She loved being a member of the steering committee of ArtsVote Toronto 2010. She received the  2012 William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life, and was a Sandra Tulloch Award and Harold Award winner.

*Stay tuned for more information about this debate as it approaches*

CIVIL DEBATES

Creative Cities Debate - March 15, 2013

Creative Cities Debate

Debate 2: Arts Boards

Hosted by Theatre Centre Managing Director Roxanne Duncan
Moderated by Praxis Theatre Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose
April 1, 2013; doors 7pm, debates 7.30pm
The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West, at Dovercourt
PWYC at the door. No RSVP required. Cash bar for the thirsty.
Twitter Hashtag: #CivilDebates

Click here for more information about the Civil Debates series in partnership between The Theatre Centre & Praxis Theatre.

Praxis Theatre Centre banner

March 19, 2013, by
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Omar Hady and Jiv Parasaram

Greta chats with the team behind To the Last Cry and The Lost Sagas of Tjorvi the Flaccid.  Pandemic Theatre and Theatrelab have teamed up to present the double bill at the Factory Studio Theatre March 20th-24th.

JIV AND OMAR’S TIPS FOR DOUBLE BILLS

  1. Keep an open dialogue at all times between production partners.
  2. Maintain a “Road House” mentality. Keep your tech tight, flexible and ready to go!  This saves on tech time, and keeps you prepared for everything that will go wrong!
  3. It’s all about the collective.  No competition only joint success.  Choose your team based on their love for what the whole project is about.  The last thing you need is division.

CONTEST FOR FREE TICKETS!

E-mail tix@pandemictheatre.ca to be entered in a draw for a pair of tickets for opening night WEDNESDAY MARCH 20th. Put Free Tix in the heading.


greta praxis photoGreta Papageorgiu is an actor, teacher and director. She has taught and performed in Ontario, Quebec and Germany.  Her next class starts April 2nd at The Fringe Creation Lab. For details go to meisnerwithgreta.ca.

March 16, 2013, by
1 comment

Civil Debates 1

Packed house at The Theatre Centre pop-up – Image by Renna Reddie

Last night we held our inaugural Civil Debate with The Theatre Centre, examining the Creative Cities theories of Richard Florida:

Be it resolved that the Creative Cities theories serve to reinforce dominant class structures.

Arguing for the resolution was Mammalian Diving Reflex’s Darren O’Donnell and Executive Director of Trinity Square Video, Roy Mitchell.

Kevin Stolarick, Research Director at The Martin Prosperity Institute, and Sabra Ripley, Masters of Public Health in community development and health promotion, and activist with BeautifulCity, argued against.

At times passionate, the debate often shifted into a conversational mode, which was what we’d been aiming for by calling the series “civil”. It was great to see lots of new faces, and turning the discussion over to the audience led to some of the most heated moments of the evening.

Everyone in the audience had an opportunity to vote for a side on their way out by dropping a poker chip into the “yea” or “nay” bags. The results were:

The Yeas have it with 45 votes to 19.

We definitely learned a lot from this first event, and as a result we will try a different voting strategy the next time around:

If you’re coming to the next event, you’ll be asked to vote for the side you agree with as you arrive, and you’ll be asked to vote again as you leave. The side that has changed the most minds will be declared the winner of the debate rather than simply the side with the most votes. We hope this will be an effective strategy for an event that attracts a crowd more obviously in favour of one side over another.

Stay tuned for a post on Wednesday where we will reveal the debaters for our next debate, to be held on Monday, April 1st:

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

Praxis Theatre Centre banner

March 15, 2013, by
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Civil Debates Post it BoxWelcome to Debate Day #1 – Creative Cities

WHEN: Doors @ 7pm, debate @ 7.30pm

WHERE: The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West, at Dovercourt

PWYC at the door. No RSVP required. Cash bar for the thirsty.

This evening Darren O’Donnell, Roy Mitchell, Kevin Stolarick, and Sabra Ripley will debate the resolution:

Be it resolved that the Creative Cities theories serve to reinforce dominant class structures.

Civil Debate ninja pirate box

MORE DB8 INFO

Hosted by Theatre Centre Artistic Director Franco Boni

Moderated by Praxis Theatre Artistic Director Michael Wheeler

The event will be live-tweeted via @praxistheatre & @theatrecentre. The Debate Hashtag is: #CivilDebates.

Not on Twitter/Don’t want to be? Below is a livestream of the tweets and pictures using the #CivilDebates hashtag, feel free to follow along live from this post.

Want more info on the topic, the debaters, and how the event will work? CLICK PIRATE & NINJA.


Praxis Theatre Centre banner

March 14, 2013, by
1 comment

Text:

“The fact that something is difficult must be further reason for us to do it.  It is also good to love; for love is difficult.”

~ Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Image:

Seagull_guitar_headstock

Sound:


Seagull Poster by Madeline HaneyUpstart Theatre is proud to present The Seagull in Four Movements, a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, set and performed in a Toronto bar.


Runs March 14th-16th and 21st-23rd at 8pm at the Winchester Kitchen and Bar (51 Winchester Street, Toronto).  Live music starts at 7pm. Tickets $15 General Admission, $10 for Students and Seniors. To reserve, email upstart.seagull@gmail.com.


March 13, 2013, by
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Civil Debates 1

The Resolution:

Be it resolved that the Creative Cities theories serve to reinforce dominant class structures.

The Context:

The emergence of the Creative Economy and Creative Class  (via Wikipedia)

The publication of John Howkins’ The Creative Economy and Richard Florida’s book The rise of the Creative Class gave the movement a dramatic lift as global restructuring was hitting deep into the US. Its timing hit a nerve with its clever slogans such as “talent, technology, tolerance” and interesting sounding indicators like the “bohemian index” or the “gay index”, that gave numbers to ideas. Importantly it connected the three areas: a creative class – a novel idea, the creative economy and what conditions in cities attract the creative class. Florida concluded that economic development is driven in large measure by lifestyle factors, such as tolerance and diversity, urban infrastructure and entertainment.

Critics argue that the Creative City idea has now become a catch all phrase in danger of losing its meaning. Cities also tend to restrict its meaning to the arts and activities within the creative economy professions calling any cultural plan a creative city plan, when this is only an aspect of a community’s creativity. There is a tendency for cities to adopt the term without thinking through its real organizational consequences and the need to change their mindset. The creativity of the creative city is about lateral and horizontal thinking, the capacity to see parts and the whole simultaneously as well as the woods and the trees at once.

A post-it with one of the debate topics suggested at our interactive debate suggestion installation at The Next Stage Festival

A post-it with one of the debate topics suggested at our interactive debate suggestion installation at The Next Stage Festival

The Debaters:

Side A – SUPPORTING THE RESOLUTION

Darren O’Donnell is a novelist, essayist, playwright, director, designer, performer, Artistic Director of Mammalian Diving Reflex and Research Director of The Tendency Group, an emerging think tank and social policy laboratory. His books include: Social Acupuncture, which argues for an aesthetics of civic engagement and Your Secrets Sleep with Me, a novel about difference, love and the miraculous. His best-known work is Haircuts by Children, which was first created in collaboration with the children of Parkdale Public School in 2006. In addition to his artistic practice, he is currently an Msci candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto.

Roy Mitchell is the Executive Directorof Trinity Square Video. Roy comes to the Trinity team as a member, past board member and trouble maker. His work has screened internationally, and he has curated for local film festivals and written on art, film, and video. He believes a busy artist-run-centre is a good artist-run-centre.

Side B – OPPOSING THE RESOLUTION

Kevin Stolarick: Dubbed the “Official Statistician of the Creative Class”, Kevin Stolarick, PhD, combines a depth of knowledge with an appreciation of the importance of finding and sharing the knowledge or “pearls of wisdom” gained from his comprehensive understanding of the Creative Class and the Creative Economy. He is the Research Director at The Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He holds a PhD in Business Administration and an MBA from the Tepper School of Management, Carnegie Mellon. Kevin provided quantitative research and analytical support for several of Richard Florida’s books including The Rise of the Creative Class and Rise Revisited (the 10thAnniversary Edition).  He continues in collaboration with Richard and others researchers.

Sabra Ripley is a community artist and arts-advocate with a Masters of Public Health in community development and health promotion, focused on arts as a means of developing strong, healthy individuals and communities. She is currently the Executive Director of Ottawa’s House of PainT Festival of Urban Arts and Culture and a Cultural Outreach Officer in the City of Toronto’s Arts Services unit. In recent years Sabra has worked as Interim-Coordinator for the billboard tax advocacy group Beautiful City, as a Management Consultant for the Artists Mentoring Youth Project, and as a Researcher for the Scarborough Arts Council’s Creative Mosaic project. As a community artist she danced with the all bgirl DeCypher Crew and acted with Salamander Theatre for Young Audiences.

Civil Debates 2The Format:           

Side A1              7 minutes

Side B1             7 minutes

Side A2             7 minutes

Side B2             10 minutes

Side A1              3 minutes

Following the formal debate, the floor will be opened to the audience for questions and comments.

The Role of Audience:

Each attendee will be provided with 2 tokens.  One may be used to make a statement or ask a question when the floor is opened to the audience. The second may be used to register support for or against the resolution when exiting the pop-up at the end of the evening.

The Added Excitement!

At the conclusion of the debate, the 4 debaters who will tackle the following resolution at Civil Debates #2 on April 1st will be announced.

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

CIVIL DEBATES

Debate 1: Creative Cities
WHEN: March 15, 2013; doors 7pm, debates 7.30pm
WHERE: The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West, at Dovercourt
PWYC at the door. No RSVP required. Cash bar for the thirsty.
Facebook Event Page,  Twitter Hashtag: #CivilDebates

March 8, 2013, by
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Greta chats with Laws of Motion actor David Tompa about working under the Artists Collective Policy.

3 Tips from David Tompa for Actors Working Under the CAEA Artists Collective Policy

  1. Have people involved who are not acting in the play. That way when the last week comes, the actors can put their efforts into acting and everything else that needs to happen will be taken care of by others.
  2. There is no room for divas. It’s a collective.  Everyone needs to help with everything.  You are all going to build and sweep and fold and mop.
  3. Remember that you love this.

Things will get rough.

Things will go wrong.

Mistakes will be made.

Just breathe and remember that you’re doing this because you love it and the people you’re with.

Laws of Motion directed by Chris Stanton runs until March 15th.  For ticket info click HERE.


greta praxis photoGreta Papageorgiu is an actor, teacher and director. She has taught and performed in Ontario, Quebec and Germany.  Her next class starts April 2nd at The Fringe Creation Lab. For details go to meisnerwithgreta.ca.