Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
March 13, 2010, by

Section 98 – Open Source Entry #10 – IT’S ON!

What are you understanding?

What aren’t you understanding?

What are you thinking about?

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  1. anonymous says:

    With the re imagining I certainly didn’t mean more “acting” I mean more trying to imagine what those plays wanted to do, what the desire was, and wondering / approaching how to achieve that now.

  2. anonymous says:

    Not getting the argument re the documents…

  3. anonymous says:

    Thus bureacratic committee thing is painfully boring

  4. anonymous says:

    Meaning I didn’t catch the significance of that document used as an example.

  5. anonymous says:

    If be nice to have rolues to the texts somehow as well so if there are questions about clarification the answers come back to me via text during the show

  6. anonymous says:

    “Omar” really turned out to be a lynchpin of the show. I wonder if he attended…

  7. anonymous says:

    did Michael coif his hair just for this?

  8. anonymous says:

    So the Olympics pretty much ended up getting cut out of the show completely, huh?

  9. Christine Berg says:

    I agree with the last comment in the talkback, that I lost the throughline, or connection between the stories. I also found the Omar sections confusing. It feels like I missed the link because I hadn’t been following the web discussion before I got here tonight.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed the scenes from each plot however it assumed a base of knowledge. I think by developing each scene with a more immersive context it would engage the viewer into the perspectives at that time in history. Or the other route would be to make it more about the headlines and discussion. The play seems to sit in the middle somewhere.

  11. Anonymous says:

    re: actors using real cigarettes.
    I’d like to cast a vote saying that I did not at all wish the actor to really smoke a cigarette. Especially in a performance of this nature, my ‘suspension of disbelief’ muscle is already activated. No need to endanger the actors health in order for the smoking to be believable. I already know it’s theatre.

  12. Pierre says:

    Some post-show thoughts:
    I must agree that many scenes need a little more context to get into them. I found the actor/character interviews quite an engaging way to achieve this. Might have been fun to have each actor do one (with variations). Live camera work reinforces the ‘filtering’ of communication – nice. Must agree that the historical theatrical re-inactment scenes need a bit more authenticity (and by that I mean also pushing the overt theatricality of them to give them both more depth and more artifice).
    The panel segments are long only because the context isn’t quite there (for someone who hasn’t been following the headlines). I enjoyed the juxtaposition of live ‘improv’ and candid speak with verbatim and more theatrical bits.
    I must also admit that if texting is supposed to be part of the show, it needs to actually be part of the show (i.e. more SM commentary or visibility of the texts as well as designated times for texting so we don’t feel we’re missing out and perhaps even changes in performances/content as a result of the texts)
    I would also enjoy date captions for certain scenes.
    Very random thought about the ‘directing’ scene: Wouldn’t Eatons be a more accurate reference than Sears?
    And what was that transition scene with red light and loud music supposed to do?
    Q&A after this kind of show seems to be essential – and very engaging.
    A way to tie the stories together may be helpful for the end. Perhaps more performers speaking directly to the audience? You may also want to present the entire team at the beginning to set up the ground rules informally.
    All the best with the further incarnations of this show.

  13. anonymous says:

    this show was boring, self indulgent and put the cart before the horse where media’s concerned.  you used the idea of a workshop as an excuse for not making any coherent artistic choices:  loose transitions, unpolished readings of boring material, actors unsure of entrances and exits.  why were there references to mike wheeler’s physicality at least twice during the show although the audience never sees him? are we all supposed to know what he looks like?  or care?  who is this random blogger going by the name omar khadr who isn’t omar khadr?  how does he enhance our understanding of anything?  why were there such long, boring, juvenile lulls in the presentation of media?  ie: freezing on one shocking photograph for minutes at a time while we listen to VO?  repeatedly?  the use of filming the 2 women as they button up/ button down, tie up/ tie down their hair was provocative without purpose. the one girl with the annoying voice in english, nevermind her ‘immersion Parisian french’ SHOULD feel bad about playing a quebecois.  her nasality was insulting.  this show lacked vision, choice, art, drama, entertainment, movement.  it was staccato, incoherent and painful to sit through.  i really thought praxis was capable of more than mounting a bad research paper on a stage.  is this what happens when theatre people start wanting to drive traffic to their website instead of the theatre? too bad.  the scene between BQAG (bad quebecois accent girl) and the dude in the corduroy with those one note, dim the lights transitions to show the progress of time was so amateur, it was like the lights came up and BQAG was still getting into place for the next 5 seconds.  
    constructive criticisms include: tighten cues, memorize lines even though it’s a workshop, get rid of mike wheeler’s VOs, get rid of the multi media until it serves a purpose, pick a purpose and state it, pick one of your many narratives and go with it, stop romanticizing political and legal arenas and realize how boring that kind of verbatim is to most theatre goers, get rid of BQAG and hire a francophone, overestimate our exposure to and the speed of current media and underestimate our ability to draw coherent conclusions from your personal political interests.  have some confidence that one of you could write something coherent and original and put it on a stage.  it seems like most of the audience during the Q&A and on this page here are being generous and guarded so not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  i imagine the rehearsal process would’ve been much the same?  get rid of being nice and do something with some backbone. 

  14. Michael says:

    Hi all.

    Wow. I think the largest number of comments I have ever replied to at one time before was four….

    Sincere thanks to everyone who came and participated in our experiment/presentation yesterday. It created a lot of valuable feedback and the audience was very generous in going along with our instructions and participating with open and honest minds.

    Continue to feel free to leave your thoughts here and Aislinn and I will respond with some conclusions in a new post once we figure out what they are!

    Thanks again to Harbourfront Centre and everyone who attended.

  15. Michael says:

    I want to respond to some of the stuff in the last comment right here because, well, I’m here right now.

    Hi Anonymous,

    I’d like to say first of all that the fact that you were compelled to leave that kind of honest, if brutal, feedback here the day after seeing our work-in-progress presentation makes the workshop a kind of success already in my mind. We are quite focused on curating a relationship with our audience that extends beyond opening night and extends into the entire, often three year, process of creating a piece of theatre. So hearing your thoughts is welcomed and may, in some small way, influence our process.

    The answer to many of your questions is this:

    We wanted to try a number of things and see how they would work with an audience. I had considered that many of them may be boring at times or unfocused in their intent, but the only way to really know how something works is to try it.

    That’s what workshops are for.

    We have some pretty clear ideas about what worked and what didn’t and some of your feedback reinforces those conclusions, but not all of it. That makes sense though as you divided your feedback into “constructive” and what I can only assume you would characterize as, unconstructive, feedback.

    Where I agree with you most is my dislike of the parts where I ended up being a character in the show. This was a result of me wanting to A: Not edit the text I used from the comments on this website in any way, and B: the need for a director to interview the actors. So somehow, unintentionally, I ended up in the presentation. It should be easy enough to fix.

    Where I disagree with you most are your criticisms that don’t consider what is possible in a 6-day residency in a theatre: “Memorize lines even though it’s a workshop” is really close to “find a way to freeze the space-time continuum”. Likewise, your comments about dialect work don’t resonate. It’s not what we were working on in this time around in this exceptionally short period of time. Ditto for transitions and entrances. If that shit is sloppy on opening night, slaughter us for it sure, but that’s not where we are or what we are working on.

    Anyways, in our workshop post-mortem post I’ll go more into detail about what signposts I used as a director to gauge success or failure. Thanks for taking the time to send your thoughts.


  16. anonymous says:

    i didn’t realize the actors had only spent 6 days on this since its first incarnation at the fringe.  i find it scary that you needed to stage some of that stuff to confirm that it was boring, didn’t work, etc.  it’s disappointing that you let the ball drop under the guise of curating a relationship with your audience.  hold yourselves and us to a higher standard.  we all know your company is capable of it.

  17. Jacob Zimmer says:

    Hey anonymous, I really liked the last thing you did in the real world, it was so thought out, and the way you stood behind it publicly was so great. I mean, no one takes a stand like that, especially when they can be held personally accountable. To say that stuff in the face of someone – so brave and exposed. It was really strong and yet vulnerable.

    Praxis- the problem really is the trolls. There are, as you know from my comments, aspects that worked more and that worked less for me. I do think in various workshop phases that looking deeply into one tactic rather than trying to get everything in can be useful, and it felt like a large part of last night was about the texting – and honestly I’d rather figure out how to get an audience to shout out loud. Anonymous snide commenting isn’t worth the time to read. Getting us to a point where we will stand up, in person – visible, for our beliefs is much more interesting and much more about the live event to me. The Globe and Mail comment boards are already filled with instant feedback. Let trolls live under that bridge – we don’t need them.

    also – (and this may not be surprising from me) I like the combination of reading and learned text – i think it’s a clear way of dealing with the difference between new material and set parts of show going forward. It’s also a way of discerning between verbatim and playwrighten .
    and the moment of worry from the actress (sorry, program not in hand) about questions of appropriation, are at the heart of interest for me in the FLQ section – that material seems so treacherous that it’s important to acknowledge that from the inside. Much of what interests me is why you all, as a group, are drawn to that material (that being said, I can do with less “I found out this neat thing while researching…” – just cut those lines, I’ve been guilty of them myself, and things are just better when they’re gone.)

    but all of this we can talk about over beer.
    Part of the truth of Open Source is that “code” is kind of meritocracy that is hard in theatre. The Linux kernel change either works, or it crashes. And there is a critical mass of people very good at (basically) math who look over everything and so can check for quality in a pretty clear way. In theatre of course this is harder, since there is little way in a short comment to establish whether or not I’m someone you think has something to say that you want to consider. If I start commenting on Linux, no one is going to listen, for very good reasons (I don’t know much about code.) So, how, in this world of aesthetic and political difference, can you tell, in annonymous or unknown comments, who to listen too – who shares any values.

    It’s funny that I feel like the old guy defending curation and quality, but I think it’s the only site of resistance left to us. (wherein quality does not equal line learned and transitions smoothed)

    anyways, wine is good

    sleep is good and I’ve got a zombie movie to watch


  18. Jacob Zimmer says:

    wow, I can really shut down a conversation, eh?

  19. Michael says:

    Heh heh heh. I don’t think it was you dude. Unfortunately i think freeform feedback has polarized at this point in the thread. It’s hard to look at this and not be like, “Am I gonna unwittingly enter some kind of flame war?” Anyways you have sleep, wine AND zombie movies so so you’re set either way.

  20. aislinn says:

    Sleep, yes. Wine, yes. Not necessarily in that order. Zombie movie, absolutely not. Honestly, I think I’d rather go to the dentist, and that’s saying a lot… Anyway, once Michael and I can put our non-zombified brains together we’ll be continuing this discussion in a new post, so I hope to see you there Jacob.

  21. […] interactive, invite the audience to communicate with their PDA during the performance type of stuff Praxis was experimenting with in March at Harbourfront Centre.  The consensus opinion seemed to be that imposing tweets on pre-existing scripts was a recipe for […]