Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
February 25, 2011, by

“You Should Have Stayed Home”: Coming soon to a television, stage, and interweb near you

“You Should have Stayed Home” the documentary airs tonight on CBC. The play gets workshopped this spring and presented soon after.

by Michael Wheeler

How I Got Arrested and Abused at the G20 in Toronto, is one of the first Facebook notes I can think of that practically everyone I knew had read or had at least heard about. Says a little about the circles I move in, but whatever. I had never met its author, Tommy Taylor, but I knew he was in theatre, and I remember taking a little pride in the fact that the person who had responded most scathingly and appropriately through social media to the G20 debacle was one of us.

So when Tommy contacted me to see if Praxis Theatre would like to collaborate with his company The Original Norwegian to adapt his facebook note for the stage, it only took one beer with him and collaborator Julian DeZotti to ensure we would get along, to jump at the opportunity. As a company dedicated to new works by local artists, many of which have been adaptations, this project made a lot of sense for Praxis Theatre in terms of taking what we do, and pushing it one step further by adapting a html social media document. Throw in that we have heavily leveraged our political and online engagement as a company, and it does seem like an awfully good fit.

To celebrate this new collaboration and I interviewed Tommy on GChat earlier this week.

9:10 PM

me: So what made you choose, “You Should Have Stayed Home” as the name of the piece you have chosen to make about your experience at G20 in Toronto?

9:18 PM

Tommy: The documentary on tonight’s The Fifth Estate on CBC, which I appear in, is also called “You Should Have Stayed Home.”  (So now people have commented online that the CBC is being callous, rude or that they are “a government pawn”.) So, I rung in with: “I called it that because that is what most people said to me afterward.”

The documentary explores what is wrong with that statement–it attempts to see past the sensationalizing of broken windows and burning cars to show the truth of what happened that weekend. “You Should Have Stayed Home” is not the literal or glib title you might think. I was held in detention for 24 hours and it was horrible, but what I found to be more horrifying was the way average Canadians reacted with apathy and indifference… thus “You Should Have Stayed Home”.

9:19 PM

me: When you say commented online – do you mean on your Facebook page or other places?

9:21 PM

Tommy: Oh, the Facebook. That’s where a lot of G20 talk happens. Different groups, my page, other activists’ pages, Dalton McGunity’s page…

9:22 PM

me: So, speaking of Facebook – this is how I heard about your experience. You wrote this 11,000 word Facebook note complete with video and images – want to throw out some other stats about it?

9:25 PM

Tommy: Facebook is how everyone heard about it. Since I published it on Tues. June 29 I have received about 5,000 messages from about 21 countries and it’s been translated into 7 languages by various people. I went from around 300 ‘friends’ to around 1,300.

9:26 PM

me: How long after G20 did you write it and why did you decide to?

9:27 PM

(i also love that we have to qualify statements to clarify that actions were taken by people not computers)

G20 Detention Centre

9:37 PM

Tommy: Well, after I got out of the detention centre on Sunday night around 10pm, I hadn’t slept for 40 hours, was cold, starving, dehydrated, no means to get home, no idea where my girlfriend was and running the whole thing through my mind so I wouldn’t forget. And it was raining (our apartment flooded while we were caged up – amazing end to a wonderful weekend in T.O.). Having made it home, I made phone calls to loved ones, changed my wet socks, made notes on badge numbers, names and times, and I still couldn’t sleep.

I got on the computer very early Monday morning and started typing until I was finished Tuesday morning at 11:07am. And why Facebook? I was never a huge fan of Facebook outside of using it for marketing/promotion theatre-wise, but I just wanted to get this out there as fast as possible and to as many people as possible. I also wanted it to get to people who knew me and would take the time to read it. I was afraid that everyone was just seeing the Yonge street mess and missing the important stories from G20.

9:38 PM

me: Kerouack would like this creative process.

9:40 PM

Tommy: Toronto earthquake to signal the start of G20, a flood to end it. Eat that pathetic fallacy King Lear.

me: So, now you have decided to get your theatre company The Last Norweigan, together with Praxis Theatre to make a play based on your note? Why make a play?

Tommy with wristband and evidence bag wearing a T shirt fraught with irony

Tommy:The Original Norwegian….



9:41 PM

me: I wonder if i will leave that in or not…

9:42 PM

Tommy: Sounds like a Scandinavian take on the Last of the Mohicans

9:43 PM

me: I would rather it was a Scandinavian take on The Last Starfighter

Tommy: Or a Scandavian take on The Last Unicorn.

9:44 PM

That brings us back to the play I think.

9:58 PM

Tommy and Kate went to get slushies and got home a little later than they anticipated.

Tommy: It’s going to be a funny show. After I got out I was angry. Very angry. I did the classic movie angry-guy-punching-a-wall, I was a wee bit broken coming out of there. Then I began to write, began to react in a way that I know how: creating and using humour – that’s how I work through things. Which sounds like lame artsy talk I know, but too bad because it’s true.

Creating a show about the experience was rattling in my head as well, but I needed to write about it first. At the time I wrote that note my friend and theatre cohort Julian DeZotti was away at 1,000 Islands Playhouse. When he finally read about it he got an email to me stating “We’re going to turn this into show! This is outrageous!” and other words of encouragement. Other people said similar things to me about “you gotta make this a play” and in my mind I was saying “I know! I will!”

Then came activism and educating myself on what made G20 possible. There is such a never-ending stream of important causes and information that I got very swept up. It took me about 6 months to react to this as an artist. Which for me, is nuts. I always have my artist hat on for every experience, it’s all fuel for creation – but this got to me on a whole new level. I want to share the insanity of that weekend, why it’s changed me and all the insanity that’s come afterward. A lot of it still makes me laugh. And cry. Laugh-Cry.

me: And so now there is this CBC doc coming out about G20 that you appear prominently in and is named after the piece of theatre you have chosen to make about it. This is pretty good press for a show that hasn’t been made yet when and where can people check it out?

10:17 PM

Tommy: The CBC doc is Fri. Feb 25th at 9pm. The Facebook note went viral and my story appeared a lot of places (online, print, TV). I wound up speaking at a number of rallies (in fact, I got engaged to my beautiful girlfriend and fellow detainee Kate on the Canada Day Rally the week after G20) and I kind of became popular in the world of G20 Toronto.

Lets get engaged!

(Quick note – the CBC website for the doc already has 23 comments and it hasn’t even aired. Here’s a user comment: “as of now it is well established beyond any doubt that all those so called protesters were ‘Bandits In Disguise’ out to achieve their sole objective of creating mayhem and spreading chaos”)

10:19 PM

me: Oh yeah – you and your fiancee Kate got engaged right after this all went down. So really this both is a comedy and a love story then.

10:21 PM

Tommy: Aren’t all love stories comedies, Michael?

me: Fair. Would you take a pic of yourself with your computer for the top of the post?

This spring we will be holding a 3-day workshop of You Should Have Stayed Home, culminating in a public reading of some sort on the final evening. Stay tuned to this website and here for more details.

We hope to see you there and get feedback on what the heck should and should not be in this piece of theatre. We are going to move fast on this one as a three-year workshop process isn’t going to be useful to anyone.

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  1. Marilo says:

    Can’t wait to see it!

  2. Tom Taylor says:

    Nicely done, Tommy and Michael. Tommy, your wit and sense of humour will continue to support you in this, but we both know, as well as the other hundreds who were caged, the emotional cost of being stripped of rights and brutalized. I am a big police supporter – I don’t want to live in a society without ’em. But they aren’t allowed to break the law.

  3. […] preview above) and one person who appears in it is also developing a play with the same title. In an interview with Praxis Theatre’s Michael Wheeler, Tommy Taylor discusses the play, the documentary, and […]

  4. verne says:

    this. sounds. AMAZING!!

  5. […] am in Uncategorized by LiveWord? “You Should Have Stayed Home”: Coming soon to a television, stage, and interweb near you – Pra… Source: “You Should have Stayed Home” the documentary airs tonight on […]

  6. Colin Doyle says:

    Thank you gentleman. A perfect collaboration for a story that needs to be seen and heard and felt by real people in real time in real space. I think that the theatre, and those working together to bring it fourth, will be a perfect vehicle for “You Should Have Stayed at Home.”

  7. Lara says:

    I just watched “You should have stayed home” on the 5th estate … I am first the first time in my life ashamed to be Canadian. I have never been an activist before never even so much as posted a comment online but I don’t want to wait to end up like the people in the documentary.
    I have traveled extensively in my life and it is a fine line between Canada and countries in the world where citizen are afraid to leave there homes, and it starts with telling people it would be better if they stayed home. The real question is, who would it have been better for? The right to be safe and go outside in protest, curiosity or for whatever reason is essentially Canadian and ideally human.
    I am just one but please take this as the first in what should 30 million plus apologies that you are owed, as we are all responsible for how our government and police act. I am sorry for what happen in Toronto at the G20 and I thank-you for not staying home.

  8. Thanks to everyone for their feedback. It’s worth checking out the website that The Fifth Estate launched specifically for the documentary.

    You can watch the entire doc live there, and it also includes a tool that allows users to upload their own footage from G20 that they may not have shared with the media yet.

    I wanted to note that I put together my own html document in the aftermath of my admittedly less tragic experience as a participant in the Saturday march, which you can read here.

  9. […] again bring you Taylor’s extraordinary piece of reportage, below. A stage adaptation will premiere in Toronto later this […]

  10. don't stay home says:

    Is the police chief accountable for what happened at G8 & G20 in Toronto? Sure he is!! Why he wasn’t fired yet? How much did the Federal Government know about the plan to “defend peace” during the summit 2010? Why was the documentary aired so late? Why did the Prime Minister deliver his message interrupting last nights’ ‘Fifth Estate’? CBC needs to dig more and deeper… I want my freedom not just for me but for my children and future generation. We need to speak up, stand united against excessive force, police brutality, censorship, taking away our rights……etc. Those who did not like the peaceful demonstration ‘should have stayed home’ including the participants of G8, G20….

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I saw the documentary and have been thinking about it ever since. My grandfather was a mounted police man a long time ago and I don’t think he ever would have done the things I saw during the G20 in Toronto. He had personal integrity and was well respected by the community he policed. It seems like this generation of officers is hyped up on video games and extreme movies. During the G20 they got out of control, their tactics looking like something out of a hollywood movie. I saw some officers I recognized in the footage and may run across them again in the course of my work. I will not be able to interact with them in the same way ever again, wondering if they were one of the ones who took advantage of the situation to oppress others. Chief Blair needs a wake up cell, he has slipped so far from the expectations we had, when I attended the focus groups across the city that outlined the qualities the community wanted from a chief: Integrity, accountability, repsonsiveness to the community etc. He appeared to have those qualities earlier in his career, I thought he showed them during the Tamil communities protests in the street, allowing peaceful protest and restraining officers response.
    The bottom line is that some communities in Toronto are policed differently then others, This was a day to day reality before the G20 and continues to be afterward. It doesnt always get reflected that way on the news. Most Torontonians think if it doesnt impact them or their families its someone elses problem. What happened at the G20 documented too many examples to be ignored easily but many people will try anyways. Blaming others for being there is an easy out of civic responsibility.

  12. Peter MacKinnon says:

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    Gillian Findlay

    The Fifth Estate
    PO Box 500, Stn.’A’
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5W 1E6

    Dear Gillian Findlay,

    I wanted to take the time to thank you and everyone at The Fifth Estate for your documentary, You Should Have Stayed At Home.

    What an eye-opening expose of a very shameful event and, I fear, a very shameful trend in Canadian politics!!

    I was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960’s. For much of the time, I was working in Georgia with SNCC. And, needless to say, I had some unpleasant encounters with the police during our non-violent demonstrations. We were trained, of course, in non-violent resistance and schooled in what to expect from the police, both out in public places and behind prison walls where no one could see.

    (If you ever happen to be flipping through the book, The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle For Equality (Text by Lorraine Hansberry, photos by Danny Lyon), [Simon and Schuster, 1964], that’s me on page 102, sitting out in the middle of street in front of Leb’s Restaurant at the intersection at Lucky and Forsyth in Atlanta Georgia. The young man pictured on the front cover of The Movement, incidentally, is Charlie Walker. He looks to be all of thirteen years old, if that; but he was actually seventeen when that picture was taken. The summer before, he had his back sliced by a razor during a sit-in in a White Castle hamburger joint. I mention all this to let you know I have some experience with which to compare the police violence that took place in Toronto during the G 20 meetings you expose in your documentary, You Should Have Stayed At Home. )

    Frankly, as brutal as the American police were during the Civil Rights Movement in the States (some places in Alabama and Mississippi were even worse than in Atlanta), I was shocked, and I do mean shocked, by what I saw the police doing to those poor people in the streets of Toronto and then later in those makeshift jail cells. The criminal acts of brutal violence the Toronto police committed was far, far worse than much of what I witnessed in the US 50 years ago during the Civil Rights Movement, far worse. And that is shameful.

    The brutality the Toronto police are guilty of is inexcusable and unforgivable.

    I am glad some people are bringing civil suit against the Toronto police. But in addition, criminal charges need to be laid, and all those implicate–including the Chief of Police, the Mayor of Toronto and going all the way up to and including the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for not speaking out and condemning that police abuse of power—all of them need to be brought to justice.

    In addition to the obvious criminal acts on the part of the police in Toronto, the clear implication is that all Canadians now need to be afraid of our government. We need to be afraid of peaceful assembly and afraid of speaking out, afraid of criticizing the government.

    This is as wrong as it can be.

    I recently (on Friday, February 11th, 2011) attended an information session about CETA, held at the Nelson United Church in Nelson, British Columbia. The forum was sponsored by The Council of Canadians. I thought the introduction and explanations about CETA given by Peter Julian were excellent, and I found the entire forum very informative and enjoyable. Near the end of the question period, however, a man rose from the back row of the seats near the far left corner of the church and identified himself as a Federal PC candidate, who was going to run for office in the next election. Unfortunately, I did not catch that man’s name.

    But I was shocked by his abusive, insulting, disrespectful address. He spoke loudly and rudely, telling all us present that we should go home and scrub with bleach. He then uttered a veiled warning, threatening and hinting at what was going to happen to us after he was elected.

    It is a though we were suddenly transported from the safety of the sanctuary in that church out into some street gathering in Nazi Germany being threatened by an SS Officer.

    Frankly, I was frightened.

    Never in Canada have I heard anything so threatening and upsetting as I heard coming out of that man’s mouth.

    But then, last week, I watched your documentary, You Should Have Stayed At Home.

    Are these the kinds of unlawful, abusive and totalitarian behaviors we can now expect from the police and our government here in Canada?

    Do we need to fear that we might be rounded up and herded off to jail or to some torture camp for having attended public meetings or signing petitions?

    Again, I very much thank you and the Fifth Estate for this documentary.

    I don’t know how to do that Twitter and Face Book thing, but please use my letter however it can best benefit you and the Fifth Estate.

    Thank you,


  13. […] For more information about tonight’s reading at the Buzz Festival, take a moment to RSVP to our Facebook Event. If you’d like more information about the team collaborating on this piece, you might be interested in an earlier Google Chat between the writer Tommy Taylor, and the director Michael Wheeler, which can be found here. […]

  14. […] Theatre and The Original Norwegian begin workshopping You Should Have Stayed Home together this week. We’ll be watching related G20 videos together, and continuing the process […]

  15. […] This is your chance your chance to be a part of The Summerworks Festival as one of 40 men in a 10-minute scene in You Should Have Stayed Home […]

  16. […] world, we’re still a very fine line away from living out “Lord of the Flies” and YOU SHOULD HAVED STAYED HOME proves that. Side note: The more I learn about Praxis Theatre, the more impressed I am. They make a […]