Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.

Date: 2009 October

October 29, 2009, by
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Rodrigo 1

Rodrigo 2

It looks like a little romance is blooming between cast members Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll and Jamie Robinson.  The pair met while rehearsing Debbie Does Dallas (now playing at the Theatre Centre) and they claim to be “just friends”.  We’ve heard that before…

October 28, 2009, by
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grey square

BC artists have been busy organizing since provincial government announced draconian 90% cuts to arts funding in their recent budget. Much of the action has centered around the theme of a grey square, which through repetition has gained a significant amount of traction as a meme in the media.

Today in Vancouver this theme will be taken to the next level with The Grey Relay. More specific instructions have been provided to confirmed participants, but the general jist provided on the event’s Facebook Page is this:

*** The Grey Square Grand Plan ***

A minimum of 16 people, dressed in GREY, walk single file SILENTLY and make a grey square SILENTLY on a city corner.
Someone in that group will be designated timekeeper.
After 15 minutes, led by the timekeeper, they walk single file to another city corner and make another square.
This goes on all day, all around the city.
People can be funneled in and out once the route and times are ascertained.

We need: people to form grey squares; volunteers to hand out leaflets; volunteers for communication and organization tasks.

This is not a protest. This is about art and artists taking their space.”

October 26, 2009, by
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Brantley argues that Stiles and Pullman are good actors that have taken the wrong approach to Mamet's text.

"As staged by Mr. Hughes, the current “Oleanna” flies bravely in the face of Mr. Mamet’s prescriptions about acting. “There is no character,” Mr. Mamet has written. “There are only lines upon the page.” This “Oleanna” squints to read between those lines, and Mr. Pullman and Ms. Stiles have obviously been encouraged to create characters who are more than what they say."

by Michael Wheeler

Although material on the Praxis Website usually refrains from mentioning or linking to reviews, famed New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley’s review of the recent Oleanna revival in NYC is interesting enough to be come the exception that proves this rule.

In his review, Brantley makes the argument that the production starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles is not a success in large part because the performers do not use the correct acing technique: a Practical Aesthetics approach to performing the text developed by Mamet and taught by the Atlantic Theatre Company he helped to found.

The original production of Oleanna starring Rebecca Pidgeon (who is married to Mamet) and Practical Aesthetics co-creator William H Macy, “seemed to move at warp speed” and left Brantley, “with shortened breath and heightened blood pressure”. The current production he writes, “seemed slow to the point of stasis, and its ending found me almost drowsy.” Both productions had roughly the same running times.

Creating a complictaed and contradictory character is not normally a flaw in the approach of a performer. A medium still heavily influenced by Stanislavsky and Psychological Realism normally rewards those artists that create multi-layered characters who are “more than what they say”. In fact, not to do so in many post-Chekovian texts is to risk one-dimensionality –  it is assumed that the process of creating a character includes plumbing the world between the lines to create the fully formed human being within.

Brantley argues that this is not however, the approach that should be taken with this text:, “because “Oleanna” is a play about people for whom language is a conditioned reflex: They don’t think before they speak, even when they believe they do.” This – in a nutshell – is the essence of the technique that Mamet and Macy have worked to develop. In direct response to what they refer to “the method”, Practical Aesthetics forces the actor rely on their will over their intellect by distilling the creation process to a three step process that prizes the text over all else.

Because I haven’t seen the production, it’s impossible for me to have an informed opinion about Brantley’s analysis. I broke one of the few rules of curating material for this site  because I was struck by a review of a piece of theatre that was conscious of not only what elements the production succeeded and failed, but posited informed reasons why they did as they related to the craft and approach the artists used to create it. It seemed to me rare, insightful, and good evidence as to why having your show reviewed in The Times still matters a little more than all the rest.

Click the link to read the full review: He Said, She Said, but What Exactly Happened?

October 21, 2009, by


a blackbird now,
I spend days flying and nights trying to reach you
over frozen lakes and towns
guided by your breath
underwater blood, the smell of salt

when you dream of flying
or wake and find bits of glass in your mouth
know I’ve visited and left notes, clues
so that you,
always at ease and moving perfectly,
might look and find me


Rupal Image



rupal face
Rupal Shah is an independent theatre producer and a community outreach coordinator. She works with nightswimming, DVxT Theatre, Pleiades Theatre and inDANCE.

Currently she is co-producer (with Naomi Campbell) of The Turn of the Screw, presented by DVxT Theatre and Campbell House, which runs until November 7th at the historic Campbell House Museum. For more info click here or call 416.504.3898

October 19, 2009, by

by Greta Papageorgiu

Unemployed and fresh out of theatre school, I decided that I should get coaching for my Shakespearean monologues. I did not know Douglas Campbell, but of course knew of him and that he lived nearby. Armed with a healthy dose of just-out-of-theatre-school-chutzpah, I looked him up in the phonebook and called him. To my surprise he said, “Well, if you’re not doing anything right now, come down to Laval Street”.

I was out of my roach-infested Park Ave apartment like a shot, down to the picturesque Carre St. Louis. His wife Moira Wylie answered the door and welcomed me into their living room. Douglas was sitting in his chair by the window and chatting with their daughter-in-law Moya O’Connell. We were all introduced and Douglas turned to me and asked in his booming voice, “What have you been working on?” I said I wanted to start fresh with the Constance monologue from King John and they invited me to read it.

After I finished they gave me wonderful feedback and career advice. Douglas then proceeded to regale me with tales of “his day” and then quite out of the blue asked me, “How would you like to come and live here?” They were doing a show at the Piggery Theatre outside Montreal and needed someone to housesit.

I was only too glad to get out of Park Ave even for a month. I would now be living (temporarily) in one of the most beautiful quarters of Montreal, surrounded by the accumulated mementos of a life well-led in the theatre world: photos of great theatre productions, a prop tree decorating an office, books with inscriptions from various notables (I was at liberty to plunge at will into their vast theatre library). Inadvertently, I had been given the opportunity to live vicariously through them and imagine what my theatre career might become.

This display of generosity from someone so exalted remains to this day a seminal moment for me in my pursuit of this precarious career, where the generosity of others means so much.

October 16, 2009, by

"The map on the seat-back screen. I realized that I was flying over places i had never heard of before..."

"The map on the seat-back screen. I realized that I was flying over places i had never heard of before..."

Volcano AD Ross Manson on touring Goodness to Rwanda

An Africa Trilogy purist could quibble that this is not strictly an “Africa Trilogy” related post. This quibbler would point out that Volcano Artistic Director Ross Manson blogging about his experience touring the Edinburgh Fringe-winning production of Goodness he directed to Rwanda, is about an entirely different production and creative team (save for Manson himself).

Fair enough, but the stated dramaturgical goal of the Trilogy is to create a piece of theatre that examines the relationship between Africa and the West. In this regard, the detailed and passionate record he has been keeping about touring a Western-created play on the nature of genocide to Rwanda is pretty much a perfect fit.

You can read the blog complete with comprehensive photography here:

Goodness In Rwanda

You can listen to him be interviewed about the experience here:

Ross Manson’s interviewed from Rwanda on CBC’s As It Happens

(Click play on “Listen to Part 3 of As It Happens“)

October 13, 2009, by

On October 5th 2009, CAEA members sent a strong signal that they weren’t joking at the previous AGM held in Toronto when they voted 96-1 to pass a resolution in support of researching new solutions and contracts for use in creating indie work. With no action taken by CAEA almost one year after the resolution had passed, members returned a second vote that explicitly details their dissatisfaction. Approximate estimates (official numbers are still not available) pegged the tally at 42 for, 4 abstentions, and 4 against.

The motion, which was submitted by Sarah Stanley, was presented to the AGM by Montreal indie artist Zach Fraser. Of particular note was the address to the AGM made by CAEA founding member and ACTRA Lifetime Achievement recipient Walter Massey, who spoke eloquently in support of the resolution.

For the second straight year CAEA membership has voted overwhelmingly to support a new approach to encouraging, creating and contracting indie theatre. All that remains is to see if CAEA staff and the soon-to-be-elected Council will choose to ignore the expressly and explicitly stated desires of membership for a second straight year.

The motion:

WHEREAS there is continuing dissatisfaction among the Equity Member/Creators with the current options to engage Equity artists, including the Independent Artists Projects Policy, Small Scale Theatre Addendum and Coop Guidelines that are available to its members;

AND WHEREAS Equity adopted a member resolution passed at the last National Annual General Meeting, resolving that steps would be taken by Equity to address this dissatisfaction by consulting with a committee, struck by Council, made up of volunteer CAEA Member/Creators whose purpose is to field concerns & suggestions, gather information and seek advice from fellow CAEA members as well as examine alternative options, devise revisions or alternatives to the current agreements and policies and report back to the Business Representatives, senior staff and membership at large, except that committee and advisory work will be initiated and guided by Council and answerable to Council;

AND WHEREAS there is further and growing dissatisfaction among the Equity Member/Creators with the lack of any tangible progress made by such committee and advisory work;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT Equity deem this matter a priority and take such steps as may be needed in order to cause senior staff to prepare a full report addressing these issues to be presented to the membership at large by the next National Annual General Meeting.

October 9, 2009, by

Lets call them anti-commercials! All three are well produced calls to action by local artists and activists inviting you to participate in your  community in different ways. If this website was a TV station this is what we would air between shows:



Click here to learn more about the Cocktail and Maquerade presented buy the TO Bike Union.


Click here to learn more about Salt Baby produced by Native Earth Performing Arts

Double Dog Dare

Click here to learn more about the A Dare To Remember campaign organized by The Stephen Lewis Foundation

October 7, 2009, by

Trish Razzi 2.2.1

Trish razzi 2.2.2

I know actors are cheap, but this is really too much.   Let’s hope it was for one of her exhibits.

Trish Lindström is currently appearing in Mimi or A Poisoner’s Comedy at at The Tarragon Theatre.

October 6, 2009, by
1 comment



Economist, journalist, Demos senior fellow and former investment banker Nomi Prins thinks that Obama’s new plan is not such a sweeping overhaul of the financial system, after all. She is the author of the forthcoming book It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street. Her latest article is an assessment of Obama’s reform proposals. It’s called “Obama’s New Economic Plan: The Good, the Bad and the Weak.”

It was just published in Mother Jones. She joins us here in our firehouse studio.

Before you comment on the whole plan that was laid out, this latest news. You used to work at Bear Stearns, and you worked at Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs has just said that their staff can look forward to the biggest bonus bailouts in the firm’s 140-year history. How is this possible?


It is possible because our government has chosen to effectively give Goldman the money to do that, in a number of different ways. One is the $10 billion that it got through the TARP program, which both Goldman and the government want us to believe is the only bit of federal subsidy it has gotten, which is why, when it said it would pay back the TARP program, it was all this gesture of “we’re healthy, we’re good, we’re paying it back, we didn’t really need it,” but really they didn’t want government oversight attached to it, not that there was a lot.

The bigger amount of money that has gone to Goldman has come through $12.9 billion from the AIG bailout that went straight to Goldman, its biggest counterparty; $28 billion worth of FDIC-backed guaranteed debt, meaning the FDIC put up a program last fall, and it said, “For banks that deal with consumers”—not banks that deal with multibillion-dollar companies or investors, but people—“we will provide guarantees for debt,” which means that those companies can raise debt to help consumers cheaply. Goldman said, “Alright, fine, we’ll take some of that.”

And they took $28 billion worth of that, and they have up to $35 billion that they can take under the FDIC program that was never meant for a company like Goldman Sachs.

In addition, there is a ton of money, there are trillions of dollars at the Fed, not all of that went to Goldman, but that has secretly gone to a number of banks in the system, of which Goldman is one, for which the Fed refuses to disclose any information or any detail, which also goes into this. So when Goldman says—has the nerve to say, feels entitled to say—that it’s going to pay its bankers record bonuses after the travesty that it and other banks have created in the markets, it is on the back of federal subsidies that effectively come from our pockets.


Well, I think you’ve made the point that the $780 billion-odd TARP money is only a small portion, that the actual federal support for the banking industry is about $13 trillion?


That’s exactly right. The media has constantly focused, and Wall Street has been very happy about this focus, on this measly—and I say “measly”—$700 billion worth of TARP money that Congress allowed to be allocated last October. And that money has gone out to a number of banks, including Goldman and JPMorgan and Bank of America, Citigroup and other banks.

But in addition to that, there have been over two-and-a-half trillion dollars’ worth of guarantees and other types of subsidies from the Treasury Department; over seven-and-a-half trillion from the Federal Reserve, which a lot has gone through the bank at—the New York Federal Reserve during the Tim Geithner period, when he was running it, as well as the Federal Reserve component in Washington; and then all these extra FDIC guarantees, which have the backing of the Fed and the Treasury Department.

So we’re talking about almost 13.6, actually, now—the count keeps going up every time I look at it—trillion dollars’ worth of subsidization of the banking industry. $700 billion is a part—it’s a big part, but there are so many more trillions, that just do not get the right coverage and the right perspective from the media, that exists, that are secret. Some are not. But it’s a lot, a lot of money. It could basically pay for every single mortgage in this country and healthcare and subsidizing student loans. So when it wants to, the government can come up with a way to subsidize what it wants to subsidize. It chose to subsidize the banking industry.






Jain, Paolozza, Smith Gilmour

SPENT collaborators from left to right: Adam Paolozza, Michele Smith, Dean Gilmour and Ravi Jain


Ravi Jain is Artistic Director Why Not Theatre, the Urjo Kareda Resident at The Tarragon Theatre, and is an Artist in Residence at The Theatre Centre.  

He stars in SPENT opening Friday October 8th at the Factory Studio Theatre, presented by Theatre Smith Gilmour in collaboration with Theatre Run and Why Not Theatre .