“I want to move people. I want them to wake up … It is their silence that allows things to continue.”
– Juliano Mer-Khamis
By Nikki Shaffeeullah
Artists in the West, and particularly in North America, do not often talk about the occupation of Palestine. For a community that by its very nature envisions itself as agents of discourse and change, the general silence from artists about Palestine is pervasive. This has to stop. Artists must talk about Palestine, and in the wake of Israel’s current deadly military assault on Gaza, artists must talk about Palestine now. We must do so because the occupation of Palestine is, among other things, an artistic issue.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because storytelling is an artistic craft. As artists we know that one story can be told an infinite number of ways. In storytelling, characters do not always have equal access to narrative platforms: this is particularly apparent in the story of Palestine. The dominant narratives told to the world about Palestine are instrumental in ensuring the occupation continues. Contemporary art-makers and audiences are versed in balancing many practices of artistic reception: the skilled playgoer, for example, can submit to Aristotelian catharsis at the moment of dramatic climax and still invoke Brecht to question the intentions of the artist and other possible perspectives not present on stage. It is vital that the world maintain such critical artistic reflexivity when told stories about Israel-Palestine, for as Joyce Dalsheim argues, “The literary nature of national narratives is extremely important” (156). As is the case in many settler-colonial societies, including Canada, the popular story told about the state of Israel relies on the erasure of Palestinian indigeneity. In the particular case of Israel: “a people without a land” needed a “land without a people,” and so in the story of Israel’s statehood, Palestinians become “an uncanny other, not fully recognized, not fully known, somehow magically imagined away, and for all these reasons that much more frightening” (167).
When they are not made invisible in the story of Israel’s creation, Palestinians are rendered hypervisible in narratives of violence that conceive of Palestine and Israel as somehow being equal players in an equal war, as opposed to a colonized people—refugees in their own land—resisting apartheid and siege from a military superpower. North Americans very often do not feel empowered to speak or think critically about Israel and Palestine because of the dominant narrative that conflates a 3500-year old religious history with a 66-year old colonial history — the story is thus, “too complicated to question” and those who dare tell another version of the story are bound to have their motives, integrity, and legitimacy questioned. The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because the prevailing story told about Israel-Palestine is an artful construction that serves to perpetuate the occupation, and it must be understood as such in order for critical analysis and action to take place.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue for artists in the West when the colonial powers who maintain the occupation of Palestine exact influence so powerful and intimidating that it censors our art-making at home. In 2006, CanStage had planned to stage My Name Is Rachel Corrie, a play based on the true story of a young American activist who was killed by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer while attempting to prevent it from destroying a Palestinian family’s home. However, the theatre pulled the show from its season after being dissuaded by “prominent benefactors” (Voss). New York Theatre Workshop pulled the show from their season the same year, saying they didn’t want to take “a stand in a political conflict” (Borger). When Teesri Duniya Theatre staged it the following year, it was met with charges of anti-Semitism from groups such as the Quebec-Israel Committee, who publicly derided the show—without having seen it (Arnold).
In 2009, Independent Jewish Voices Montreal (IJVM) organized a reading of Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, which Churchill wrote in response to Israel’s military assault on Gaza earlier that year. Again, the all-consuming taboo against talking about Palestine in the West surrounded the project: as IJVM’s Abby Lippman wrote in an alt.theatre Dispatch, “cries of outrage and accusations of anti-Semitism were swift, loud, and numerous.” Lippman stresses that “while heated discussion and legitimate criticism are both welcomed, the kinds of attacks made against Seven Jewish Children deflect attention from the very issues it raises for discussion.” Silencing work that speaks about Palestine is a normal, everyday affair: “Rather than engage with the substance of the play, these critics ignored IJVM’s invitations to come to see the play and discuss it with us and others—they merely sent letters of protest to the media.”
Also in 2009, the Koffler Centre for the Arts commissioned Toronto artist Reena Katz to curate each hand as they are called, an exhibit celebrating the artist’s Jewish roots and the Jewish history of Kensington Market. Despite the project itself having nothing to do with the occupation of Palestine, the Koffler Centre ended the exhibit and their association with Katz after learning about her history of Palestinian solidarity activism (Lu). The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because for artists like Reena Katz, artists who dare express solidarity with Palestine, their art, regardless of its content, becomes subject to political profiling. The silencing machine forces artists to choose between their artistic careers and legitimate critique of the state of Israel, even when the critique happens elsewhere. The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because supporters of the state of Israel try to force it to not be an artistic issue.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because artists do not create in isolation: we are part of a global community of artists, and our artist counterparts in Palestine call upon us to act in solidarity and observe a cultural boycott of Israel. In 2006, a network of Palestinian artists asked us international artists to join “in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict” (Palestinian Campaign). This year, again, Palestinian performing arts organizations and artists collectively called upon “fellow artists and cultural organizations to condemn the current aggressions against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine through petitions, protests and statements” and specifically to support “the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel” (Palestinian Performing). They are not calling for the boycott of a people or a nation, but of an oppressive state. As it was in South Africa, the boycott is a tool the international community can use to pressure Israel and Israel’s allies (including Canada) into ending Israeli apartheid.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because the way art lives in occupied Palestine is an exemplar of the urgency, the necessity, the power of art in the face of oppression. The way art lives in Palestine reminds us of its ability to exist and resist. The occupation of Palestine and subsequent border restrictions starve Palestinian artists of resources, but they find a way to create and innovate. Mohammed al-Hawarji, without access to paint, took to his canvas with curry and cumin; his work subsequently garnered international attention for its multisensory engagement of smell as well as sight. The occupation of Palestine and the Western media culture that supports it prevents Palestinians from speaking the political truths of their personal lives in the rare moments when they do have access to media.
Through art, however, their truth finds a way: activist Rafeef Ziadah’s poem We Teach Life, Sir responds to a moment when a journalist asked a loaded and leading “Don’t you think that everything would be resolved if you would just stop teaching so much hatred to your children?” Ziadah’s piece recalls the pressure in the moment to resist saying anything that could feed stereotypes of Palestinians (“not exotic, not terrorist”) and the journalist’s own prescribed rules (“Give us a human story. / Don’t mention that word ‘apartheid’ and ‘occupation’. / This is not political”). However, in the piece itself—her performance of it went viral online—she answers the question with unbridled honesty and artistry: “We Palestinians teach life after they have occupied the last sky. / We teach life after they have built their settlements and apartheid walls … No soundbite will fix this … We Palestinians wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir” (Ziadeh).
The occupation of Palestine is further an artistic issue because Palestinian artists cannot nurture and expand their practice through tour and exhibition, the way free artists do elsewhere. Indeed, since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, imagined borders and eight-metre-high walls have prevented Palestinians from being able to travel through the land their ancestors called home for time immemorial. And yet, Palestine pushes back: The Palestine Festival of Literature gathers artists and puts them “on a bus that travels from one Palestinian city to another, breaking down a state-sponsored system of imposed isolation and ignorance” (Abulhawa). The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because the ways Palestinians make art in spite of and in response to their oppression is an incredible demonstration of how culture is a tool of resistance. The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because in Palestine, the spirit of survival lives in all dimensions of art: not only in the content of art but also in its forms, relationships, and ways of dissemination.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because artists have real power to destabilize the structures that oppress them. Israel’s current assault on Gaza was sparked by the kidnapping and shooting of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Palestinians. Within a week, Israel had named suspects and ordered the demolition of their family homes. Three years earlier, Juliano Mer-Khamis—son of a Palestinian father and Jewish-Israeli mother and founder The Freedom Theatre in the West Bank’s Jenin Refugee Camp—was assassinated by a masked gunman just outside the theatre grounds. Mer-Khamis, too, was an Israeli citizen, but in less than two days Israeli authorizes abandoned the investigation of his death (Issacharoff and Harel). Israel was not interested in justice for Mer-Khamis because they knew his art challenged the state; they knew his art was powerful, popular, and already stimulating change. They saw that the occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue.
The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because imagination is a vital tool shared by artists and the oppressed. Our counterparts in Palestine remind us that “as artists, the most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play, dream and imagine.” The occupation of Palestine is an artistic issue because although generations of Palestinians continue to be born into the reality of occupation, and the cycles of siege repeat, “as long as we are able to imagine another kind of reality, we have the power to pursue it—a free and just Palestine” (Palestinian Performing).
Abulhawa, Susan. “Imagination has no substitute: Reflections on Palfest in Gaza.” The Electronic Intifada 7 June 2013. Web.
Arnold, Janice. “Corrie play not helpful to dialogue.” All About Jewish Theatre. Web.
Borger, Julian. “Rickman slams censorship on play about US Gaza activist.” The Guardian 28 February 2006.
Dalsheim, Joyce. “Settler Nationalism, Collective Memories of Violence and the ‘Uncanny Other.’” Social Identities 2 (2004): 151.
Issacharoff, Avi, and Amos Harel. “Israel leaving investigation of Mer-Khamis murder to PA.” Haaretz 6 April 2011.
Lippman, Abby. “What Should We Tell Them”? alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage 6.4 (2009): 35.
Making art in the Gaza Strip: Mohammed al-Hawajri. BBC. 4 April 2014. Video.
“Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel.” Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. www.pacbi.org. 4 August 2006. Web.
Palestinian Performing Art Programme. “Statement by Palestinian performing arts organizations.” Thefreedomtheatre.org. 17 July 2014. Web.
Ross, Val. “CanStage loses interest in controversial Corrie play.” The Globe and Mail 28 December 2006.
Ziadah, Rafeef. “Rafeef Ziadah—’We teach life, sir’, London, 12.11.11.” Youtube. 11 November 2013.
This piece was originally published as an editorial in alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage 11.2 (2014): 8-9.
Katie Housley Winner of the 2014 Toronto Fringe 24-Hour Playwriting Competition
WINNER OF THE 24 HOUR PLAYWRITING CONTEST, PRESENTED BY THE PLAYWRIGHTS GUILD OF CANADA:
Midnight on a Monday by Katie Housley
After an emotional day at work, an aspiring sitcom writer finds an unlikely ally in a subway station kiosk owner.
The play show will receive a staged reading to be directed by Praxis Theatre Artistic Director Michael Wheeler, performed by Kat Letwin and Susan Q Wilson.
Location: Tarragon Theatre Solo Room
Date: Sunday July 13th
Katie is a recent graduate of the University College Drama Program at the University of Toronto. She was a member of the Paprika Festival’s New Writers Series this past Spring under the mentorship of Convergence Theatre’s Julie Tepperman. Selected acting credits include Teatron Theatre’s Seven Days, Toronto Fringe Festival’s Genesis and Other Stories by Rosamund Small, and Docket Theatre’s Performing Occupy Toronto. She has studied improvisation with the Second City Training Centre and classical acting with the American Conservatory Theater. Katie will be attending the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in New York this coming Fall. Upcoming: She Kills Monsters at the Red Sandcastle Theatre.
Denise Norman, Graham Isador, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Barbara Fingerote, Renna Reddie, Jon Michaelson, Indrit Kasapi, Laura Anne Harris, Maya Rabinovitch, Merle Garbe.
Favourite stage roles include Acaste in The Misanthrope (Mirvish/the red light district), Mrs. Griggs in Sockdolager (The Templeton Philharmonic), Noaman in A Funeral For Clowns (Toronto Fringe 2012 Patron’s Pick), Princess/Michelle in Scheherazade (Next Stage Festival 2014), and Evelyn Marlow in Dark Matter (Circlesnake Productions). Kat has been featured on MTV’s Losing It, currently voices Dr. Ashfaq (Tall, Dark & Handsy) and Waggles Billingsworth (Money Dog) for Bite TV, and just finished her run of Rulers of the Universe: A Love Story at this year’s Toronto Fringe. She can be seen every month at Comedy Bar as co-host of Solo Combo, an experimental variety show for sketch comedians and improvisers.
Susan Q Wilson
Since returning to acting in January 2010, Susan has demonstrated her versatility on stage and on camera. Selected theatre: Helen, Radical (Toronto Fringe 2014), Dahlia Day, I’m Still Here! (New Ideas Festival), Dowager Countess, Uptown Abbey (Mysteriously Yours), First Witch, Macbeth (Hart House Theatre), Jean Rhys, After Mrs. Rochester (Alumnae Theatre). Selected film/web: Esther, Senior Drivers (Dir: Gary Hayes), Maddy Miller, Out With Dad (Dir: Jason Leaver). Website
*Winners in Bold
Rosamund Small, writer of Vitals, Winner Outstanding New Play & Outstanding Production
All Our Happy Days Are Stupid Suburban Beast
Birth of Frankenstein Litmus Theatre
Ralph + Lina Ahuri Theatre with the support of Why Not Theatre and Theatre Smith Gilmour
TRUDEAU AND THE FLQ Presented by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper Theatre Co.
Vitals An Outside the March Production sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY
Alanna Mitchell Sea Sick The Theatre Centre
Christina Serra, Michele Smith and Dan Watson Ralph + Lina Ahuri Theatre with the support of Why Not Theatre and Theatre Smith Gilmour
Litmus Theatre Collective Birth of Frankenstein Litmus Theatre
Rosamund Small Vitals An Outside the March Production sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
Sheila Heti All Our Happy Days Are Stupid Suburban Beast
Chris Hanratty The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass UnSpun Theatre
David Ferry After Miss Julie The Red One Theatre Collective
Matthew Thomas Walker Birth of Frankenstein Litmus Theatre
Michael Hollingsworth TRUDEAU AND THE FLQ Presented by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper Theatre Co.
Mitchell Cushman Vitals An Outside the March Production sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE – MALE
Alex McCooeye Richard III Shakespeare in the Ruff
Craig Pike A NUMBER CART/HORSE THEATRE
Jakob Ehman Donors safeword
Mac Fyfe TRUDEAU AND THE FLQ Presented by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper Theatre Co.
Ron Pederson Pith! By Stewart Lemoine The Theatre Department
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE – FEMALE
Christina Serra Ralph + Lina Ahuri Theatre with the support of Why Not Theatre and Theatre Smith Gilmour
Claire Armstrong After Miss Julie The Red One Theatre Collective
Kate Hennig Rifles Praxis Theatre (presented by Next Stage)
Katherine Cullen Vitals An Outside the March Production sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
Naomi Wright A Room of One’s Own The Bloomsbury Collective
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE – ENSEMBLE
The Ensemble of All Our Happy Days Are Stupid Suburban Beast
The Ensemble of Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl Outside the March, Convergence Theatre, Sheep No Wool
The Ensemble of Ralph + Lina Ahuri Theatre with the support of Why Not Theatre and Theatre Smith Gilmour
The Ensemble of The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass UnSpun Theatre
The Ensemble of TRUDEAU AND THE FLQ Presented by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper Theatre Co.
OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN
Anahita Dehbonehie Vitals An Outside the March Production sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
Camellia Koo The Wanderers Cahoots Theatre Company
Michael Spence The Sacrifice Zone Theatre Gargantua in association with The Uncertainty Principle
Rae Powell All Our Happy Days Are Stupid Suburban Beast
Sherri Hay YouTopia Vertical City Performance
OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
Anna Treusch The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass UnSpun Theatre
Astrid Janson TRUDEAU AND THE FLQ Presented by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper Theatre Co.
Catherine Hahn WEATHER THE WEATHER or how we make it home together Theatre Columbus
Michelle Bailey Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl Outside the March, Convergence Theatre, Sheep No Wool
R.Kelly Clipperton Dinner at Seven-Thirty Theatre Rusticle
OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
Dave DeGrow The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass UnSpun Theatre
Laird Macdonald The Sacrifice Zone Theatre Gargantua in association with The Uncertainty Principle
Michelle Ramsay Sister Mary’s a Dyke?! Cahoots Theatre Company
Michelle Ramsay The Wanderers Cahoots Theatre Company
Patrick Lavender Birth of Frankenstein Litmus Theatre
OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN/COMPOSITION
Beau Dixon Rifles Praxis Theatre (presented by Next Stage)
Christopher Stanton The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass UnSpun Theatre
John Millard WEATHER THE WEATHER or how we make it home together Theatre Columbus
Sound Design and Live Foley: John Gzowski/ Original Vocal Composition: Jacquie PA Thomas and the Ensemble The Sacrifice Zone Theatre Gargantua in association with The Uncertainty Principle
Thomas Ryder Payne Nightmare Dream IFT Theatre, Newface Entertainment
Since 1995, The Harold Awards have come to represent the independent and hard-working spirit of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community. To be Harolded is an honour of the highest subversive order. Awards are bestowed from one individual to the next in recognition of an outstanding and often under-recognized dedication on or off the stage.
2013 House of Paul Bettis Haroldee, Maria Popoff remembers the man behind the mayhem:
If Harold were alive today he would be 108 years old … and no doubt he would still be heckling. His comments could be childish, adolescent, even crass, but they were never uttered as angry interruptions.
His participation was active, loud – you had your chance, it’s my turn now Harold was never passive. He said things that some people in the audience might have wanted to say but would never dare to say.
His presence always made for a lively evening of theatre. The boundary between him and the stage didn’t exist. His effort to pierce the theatrical bubble didn’t degrade the quality of the actors work…as long as they knew beforehand that Harold was in the house.
And, night after night, Harold kept coming back to the theatre, seeing the same show more than once. He was a loyal supporter and there was never a question about his passion or dedication to the theatre.
I am told that “Audience Engagement” is the term used these days to describe the desire to want theatre attendees to participate in the experience, making it active and not passive.
Harold was certainly ahead of his time.
NEW THIS YEAR – in recognition of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Harold Awards, the event producers, in their infinite wisdom, will allow The People to put forward a name to be Harolded. The winner will be inducted into the hallowed halls of House Luther Hansraj!
YOU CAN VOTE HERE.
THE HAROLD AWARDS
Monday May 26
Doors at 7pm, event at 7:30pm
Appetizer buffet included with ticket, Cash bar
The Cadillac Lounge
1296 Queen St W, Toronto,
Click image to read NOW cover story
By Nicolas Billon, Starring Kate Hennig, Directed by Michael Wheeler
A Praxis Theatre production at The Next Stage Theatre Festival
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, Senora Carrar refuses to pick sides: her husband died in combat and she’s determined to keep her two sons alive and out of the conflict. But as Franco’s army marches towards their village, her resolve is challenged.
Click here for tickets
Kate Hennig and Cyrus Lane
Dates & Times:
Wednesday, January 8th, 9:30pm
Thursday, January 9th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 11th, 2:30pm
Sunday, January 12th, 7:00pm
Monday, January 13th, 9:15pm
Wednesday, January 15th, 7:00pm
Thursday, January 16th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 18th, 7:00pm
Sunday, January 19th, 9:30pm
Cast: Kate Hennig, Cyrus Lane, Araya Mengesha, Barbara Gordon, Hume Baugh, Philip Graeme, Zoe Sweet, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Matthew Hines
Original Composition: Beau Andrew Dixon
Set and Costume Designer: Erin Gerofsky
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Vandevelde
Stage Manager: Kat Chin
Rifles Director Michael Wheeler and Producer Aislinn Rose in The Next Festival Program
Hello Praxis Friends,
Happy Holiday Season to everyone.
We are hard at work on our newest creation, Rifles as part of The Next Stage Theatre Festival this January at The Factory Theatre in Toronto.
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, Senora Carrar refuses to pick sides: her husband died in combat and she’s determined to keep her two sons alive and out of the conflict. But as Franco’s army marches towards their village, her resolve is challenged.
Wed Jan 8 9:30pm, Thu Jan 9 5:00pm, Sat Jan 11 2:30pm, Sun Jan 12 7:00pm, Mon Jan 13 9:15pm, Wed Jan 15 7:00pm, Thu Jan 16 5:00pm, Sat Jan 18 7:00pm, Sun Jan 19 9:30pm
Rifles playwright Nicolas Billion. Winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama.
This new adaptation is based on Brecht’s little-known masterpiece, Senora Carrar’s Rifles, written in 1937, which Michael directed last year as his Shaw Festival Director’s Project.
This is Nicolas’ first script for the stage since winning The 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama for his trilogy Fault Lines.
Look for more about the show in this space leading up to the show in January.
Playwright: Nicolas Billon
Director: Michael Wheeler
Producer: Aislinn Rose
Cast: Kate Hennig, Cyrus Lane, Araya Mengesha, Barbara Gordon, Hume Baugh, Philip Graeme, Zoë Sweet, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Matthew Hines
Original Composition: Beau Dixon
Set and Costume Designer: Erin Gerofsky
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Vandevelde
HATCH artistic teams, Harbourfront Centre Communications staff and us, getting together for a little pre-season potluck
As we announced earlier this year, Praxis Theatre is guest-curating Harbourfront Centre’s 2014 HATCH season of new performance experiments. As curators, we were particularly interested in looking at projects that would include experiments in how social media can be included in the development and/or performance of new works.
We’re very happy to say that we have selected our artists for 2014, and while Harbourfront Centre will be launching an awesome new web portal for these artists and their work at HATCH in January 2014, we’re providing you with a sneak peek today of who they are and what they’ll be working on over the next 5 months.
We invite you to take a look, and even engage with their projects online as they develop.
#legacy – Rob Kempson – Core Artist
Why do we yearn to leave a legacy behind? #legacy features Twitter and three women over the age of 65 who are looking to make the most of it.
This interactive performance project brings three women over the age of 65 up-close and personal with social media in general–and the Twitterverse in particular–in order to consider how we might leave a lasting impression—and how it should be hashtagged.
Follow the ladies on Twitter:
BroadFish – Melissa D’Agostino – Core Artist
What happens when the promise of a perfect future hangs on the one thing out of your grasp?
BroadFish is a live theatre experiment by acclaimed performer Melissa D’Agostino that integrates folktales, music, improvisation, and motion pictures to explore the thin line between reality and fantasy, relationships and romance, and the power of myth in our everyday lives. By plunging into the wild world of female stereotypes, BroadFish considers traditional attitudes toward relationships, happiness, and romance, investigating how they’ve evolved and degenerated through the Internet, social media, and digital technology.
The Ballad of _______ B – Francisco-Fernando Granados – Core Artist
The Ballad of _______ B brings together a young refugee’s obsession with opera diva Maria Callas and the queerness of the imagination to centre stage.
The performance is conceived as a character study of _______ B, a once “clean-cut, fresh-faced 18-year-old” refugee whose story appears as a vocabulary lesson in the pages of an instructional ESL book. This work marks a radical departure for artist Francisco-Fernando Granados, from action-based, conceptual approaches to experimental explorations that incorporate digital media, narrative, and recitation.
Faster than Night – Digital BlackBox: Vanessa Shaver, Pascal Langdale, Alison Humphrey – Core Artists
Social media billionaire Caleb Smith is on a mission. Racing against a terrible terminal illness, he is embarking on a deep space voyage with the secret goal of cheating time and death. But when something goes horribly wrong, can you help make a gut-wrenching life-or-death decision?
Newly formed Digital BlackBox blends live performance with real-time 3D animation and audience interaction to hone a new approach to storytelling, the first of its kind in the world. The company includes RADA-trained actor, writer, and performance-capture specialist Pascal Langdale; writer, director, and 2009 Elliot Hayes Award-Winner Alison Humphrey; creative producer Vanessa Shaver; and executive producer Jo Singh Brar.
On Monday Dec 18 all 308 Members of Parliament will receive this invitation. CLICK TO ENLARGE
After 34 acclaimed performances of You Should Have Stayed Home in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, we conclude our tour in Ottawa on November 20th. It is our hope some of our nation’s elected representatives will join us onstage on opening night.
The production will have a reception on Parliament Hill, the same day as this performance. We are extremely grateful to The Honourable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport, for organizing this event where MPs of all stripes can meet us and discuss the opportunity.
Reception for You Should Have Stayed Home on Parliament Hill
3pm-4pm Wednesday November 20th, 2013.
Centre Block: Room 601
Winner of The SummerWorks Arts Professional Award
Reviews: NOW Magazine – Georgia Straight
Hundreds of Canadians have already stood up for civil liberties in a safe and creative way by participating in a short scene in the middle of the show. Before each performance we’ve led a discussion about Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how it’s been significantly weakened by G20 Toronto – a period Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin called, “The most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.”
We hope Members of Parliament will be inspired by this level of engagement by ordinary citizens across Canada, and also stand up for civil liberties.
We have already confirmed participation by a few MPs, and we’re hoping for more. We’re encouraging MPs from all political parties to join us. Civil liberties are not a partisan issue. Everyone from libertarians, to socialists, to all of those in between, can find rare common ground on this subject. This important consensus can be communicated theatrically.
If you are an MP:
Please get in touch by email: MP@praxistheatre.com.
If you are not an MP, but live in Ottawa and would like to join us onstage:
Please get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not an MP, but you would like to see your MP participate:
Please send them this post. If you tweet to them, be sure to use #G20Romp. Also, be sure to be nice.
Consider sharing this post on Facebook or whatever other social network you use.
Only through real momentum will we fully realize this goal. We are so darn close and we need your help.
A sincere congratulations goes out to playwright Nicolas Billon, who has just been announced as the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. Billon’s collection of plays FAULT LINES was published by Coach House Books earlier this year, and includes the award-winning plays Greenland and Iceland.
Rifles will premier in January, 2014 at the Next Stage Theatre Festival
This announcement comes at a particularly exciting time for Praxis Theatre. We have recently begun a collaboration with Billon on a new work called Rifles. The play will be an original adaptation of Brecht’s Spanish Civil War ‘Call to Arms’ Senora Carrar’s Rifles, which Michael directed as a Shaw Festival Director’s Project last year.
We’re happy to be premiering this piece as part of Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Theatre Festival this coming January. Having produced 6 Fringe shows over the last 10 years, we’re pleased to continue our association with such an important part of the Toronto theatre ecology.
Rifles will be presented as part of Next Stage on the Factory Theatre Mainstage from January 8th to 19th. Tickets go on sale soon.
Praxis continues its partnership with The Canadian Civil Liberties Association to use our play as an access point to contribute to the broader discourse surrounding civil liberties in Canada.
The CCLA has messaged members through email and social media encouraging participation in staging the play, and has partnered with us to create panel discussions on broader issues facing civil liberties in a number of the cities we are travelling to.
This Tuesday, following the 8pm performance of #G20Romp, we will continue the discussion about G20 Toronto with a discussion of many of the issues the play raises. Years after the largest mass arrest in Canadian history there are many unanswered questions, developments, and non-developments with regards to police actions at the Summit.
Last week, CCLA published: “Take back the streets”: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world. We look forward to a robust discussion of the issues facing protest and dissent.
Click here to buy tickets.
Civil liberties and protest in post-G20 Toronto
Aki Studio Theatre @ Daniels Spectrum – 585 Dundas Street East.
Tuesday October 22nd: Show @ 8pm panel @ 9:30pm.
@PraxisTheatre will be livetweeting the discussion on Twitter via #G20Romp
Praxis Theatre Artistic Director Michael Wheeler
Abby Deshman – CCLA: Director, Public Safety Program
Abby graduated from University of Toronto faculty of law in 2008 and has an LLM from New York University law school. She has been a program director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for four years, and is currently the director of the public safety program. Her program area touches on all aspects of CCLA’s work on criminal justice, police powers, police accountability and privacy.
Leading up to the G20 she coordinated CCLA’s advocacy efforts on policing and protest, and during the meetings she led a team of independent observers monitoring police conduct. She interacts regularly with police forces across the country on issues of protest and policing and oversees the CCLA’s involvement in the struggle for post-G20 accountability.
On Tuesday, she will begin the day by heading up to OPP Police College to give a lecture to new Public Order Unit Commanders on protest rights.
Jan Borowy – Cavalluzzo
Jan Borowy’s practice areas include labour relations, human rights, pay equity and professional regulation. Jan brings to her practice a longstanding commitment to the promotion of workers’ rights and human rights. Her experience gives her an understanding of the importance of a clear strategy in union negotiations, campaigns, strikes, organizing and educational programs.
Jan is the former Research Co-ordinator at the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, where her work focused on a campaign for fair wages and working conditions for garment home-workers. She further developed her advocacy skills as the Worker’s Rights Community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services. At law school, Jan developed an expertise in Aboriginal law and issues facing Aboriginal workers.
Jan’s experience within the firm has included close involvement in the representation of private sector and public sector workers before labour arbitrators, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, the Pay Equity Tribunal and the Ontario and Canadian Labour boards. Jan is a member of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations.
Tommy Taylor – Writer/Performer: You Should Have Stayed Home
Tommy is a theatre artist, activist and NGO fundraiser living in Toronto. Recently Tommy was assistant director/video designer on The Belle of Winnipeg (Dora Winner), adaptor/director of Dear Everybody at the CanStage Festival of Ideas and Creation and director of Kayak at The SummerWorks Festival. He is a graduate of the Centre for Cultural Management (University of Waterloo/ CCCO), The Vancouver Film School and Humber College’s Community Arts Development Program.
Tommy was arrested (but never charged) and detained during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. He has since turned his account of the experience into You Should Have Stayed Home. The show is on a cross-Canada tour for Fall 2013, playing in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.