“What we’d like to do is have a monorail system that’s running right from the Pan Am Games (site) right along the lakefront and stops at Union Station and Ontario Place and right across the front of the lake,” Ford said.
“And then it would hang a quick little right, right down Cherry St., and as it goes down Cherry St. the first stop would be right at the end of the pier.”
Tonight at midnight 40 people will fill the cage. Photo by Will O'Hare
by Michael Wheeler
Tonight at midnight we are adjusting the way we perform You Should Have Stayed Home. For one night only, the show will be presented as a slightly altered version that includes a cast of 40 instead of the regular 27.
The decision is informed by our desire to present a clear idea:
This is what 40 people crammed into a 10ft by 20ft cage, begging for water looks like. Our set is the same dimensions as the cages at The Eastern Ave. Detention Centre during G20 Toronto, and it will be full of the same number of bodies.
We don’t imagine that this will be in any way a REALISTIC portrayal of what it was like to be detained and deprived of your Charter rights that weekend, but we do think it is something theatre should try to look at.
When I trained as a director at The Tarragon Theatre under Artistic Director Richard Rose we discussed at length the notion that at the end of the day, theatre is people moving through space and time. This is the actual number of bodies, in a good approximation of the space, for about 12 minutes of our hour-long show.
There is an interesting mix of family, friends, and theatre community members joining the cast for one night to contribute to this theatrical experiment. I’m even going in the cage myself. It seems important.
Yesterday’s ruling by a Toronto judge that the police acted as aggressors against peaceful protestors at G20, shows that as a community and a democracy, demanding accountability from our institutions and law enforcement agencies is more urgent than ever. I’m not sure if a piece of theatre can achieve that, but we have decided to try.
“The only organized or collective physical aggression at that location that evening was perpetrated by police each time they advanced on demonstrators… The zealous exercise of police arrest powers in the context of political demonstrations risks distorting the necessary if delicate balance between law enforcement concerns for public safety and order, on the one hand, and individual rights and freedoms, on the other”
Justice Melvyn Green – in a 29-page ruling released yesterday
The post-show discussion will be an opportunity to reflect on the play and the G20 experience, to talk about the frailty of police accountability mechanisms and to discuss broader issues surrounding law enforcement.
Photo from CCLA's June 2011 Panel at U of T's Faculty of Law - G20: Lessons Learned, Messages Lost
Tommy Taylor, playwright/performer of You Should Have Stayed Home Ajamu Nangwaya, labour lawyer specializing in police accountability Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Free // Snacks and drinks will be provided.
7:30 Performance: The Theatre Centre
Post-show panel: Conversation Room at the Great Hall
1087 Queen Street West
Wednesday, August 10th
It’s SummerWorks! I can’t think of a better time to see some of the most innovative performance work around. And I’m so thankful that Philip McKee, Jeremy James and Rose Plotek invited me into their rehearsal room to watch them create a sequence of their show, Brothers.
If you’ve seen the show, feel free to let me know in the comments section if this image resonates with you in any way.
About the show: Brothers plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2011 SummerWorks Festival until Sunday, August 14th. You can get tickets here.
Shira Leuchter makes performance stuff and other art stuff. She recently worked with UnSpun Theatre on a new piece that was performed as part of Harbourfront’s HATCH program this April. She collects all of her shallowest thoughts here.
Panelists: Tommy Taylor, playwright/performer of You Should Have Stayed Home Ajamu Nangwaya, labour lawyer specializing in police accountability Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Midnight Show: 40 people in the cage
Aug 12th @ midnight
Photo by Will O'Hare
About a month ago we made the decision to put forty people in the cage with Tommy for a portion of the show. Our approach to the piece changed in a lot of ways after that, including putting a desk in the middle of the stage, so we ended up needing about 27 performers to make room for our new approach.
Beyond the practicalities of bodies in space, we felt it was the right decision artistically as what we were creating wasn’t living anywhere close to realism.
Why 40? Because that is the number of people who were in Tommy’s cage, which is the exact same dimensions of our set at The Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.
So we have decided to pursue this approach for one show only – The Midnight Show! Joining our volunteer detainees will be members of the production team, friends of the show and some members of the theatre community. For one night only, lets look at what 40 Canadian citizens stuffed into a metal cage with no access to water looks like.
August 13 @ 10pm
This is probably our best show time and the last show of the run. It’s gonna be packed. Buy in advance, or show up early to get in. They hold 1/2 of the tickets to be available at the door 1hr before the performance.
Photo by Will O'Hare
2 – The critical response thus far
Globe and Mail theatre critic J Kelly Nestruck tweeted immediately following the opening night show
So far we have received two reviews for the show and they are, well, contradictory. Meyerhold would be proud!
NOW Magazine‘s Jordan Bimm reviewed the show, giving it NNN, but was disappointed with the show’s choice to have Tommy tell his story instead of live it in terms of performance style.
“The adaptation could go further – with more parts acted than recounted – but as it stands this is a sad but important piece of Canadian history.”
Meanwhile S. Bear Bergman reviewed the show for Mooney on Theatre (which does not rate shows out of 4 or 5) and was enthusiastic about the choice, comparing the performance style to Spalding Gray:
“Tommy Taylor’s You Should Have Stayed Home, which has more than lived up to its pre-SummerWorks hype…YouShould Have Stayed Home is in many ways the truest testament to the power of a likable narrator.”
So there you have it, the only way to weigh in on this is to come check it out.
Back in the winter, Tommy was interviewed as one of four subjects that were focused on in a CBC Fifth Estate documentary about G20, during which Tommy told CBC about his plan to make a play about his experience. Low and behold – when the show airs, it shared the same name as the play Tommy was planning on creating (plus the word AT).
We’re not complaining – this was a great publicity boost for the show and the documentary was very well received. So much so that it was just nominated for a Gemini award for best writing in a documentary. Congrats to journalist Gillian Findlay on her nomination for bringing some of the consequences of G20 Toronto to viewers across the country.
Earlier this year I had a conversation on twitter about social media, the arts, and audience development. One of the topics that came up was tweeting during actual performances. Many suggested that twitter didn’t belong in the theatre during a show, thinking it would pull the tweeters out of the performance and distract others in the audience.
When I asked a first-time theatre-goer who had been brought to the theatre via Twitter what she thought, she said tweeting would have made her feel more engaged and that she really wanted to know what other audience members were thinking throughout the show.
While some tweeters said Canadian theatre-makers were woefully behind the times when it comes to integrating social media in their work, some were adamant that tweeting during a show was a bad idea. Having already experimented with a show that incorporated live-texting throughout, I was adamant that it ought to at least be tried.
So here we are with our twitter-friendly performance of You Should Have Stayed Home at SummerWorks. We’re offering dedicated tweet seats, at the back of the audience so as not to be distracting for others, where tweeters can tweet away using our hashtag #G20Romp. All we ask is that you turn off any feature that makes a sound or vibrates, and darken your screens as much as possible – in a dark theatre you don’t really need much light.
Not sure what you’d tweet about? Our hashtag has already been in effect for some time, so here’s some of the conversation we’ve already been having.
Jonah Hundert and Praxis Theatre chat post-opening night:
Jonathan Goldsbie had a few thoughts after opening night as well:
We were pleased to have Davenport MP Andrew Cash join us for opening night and the SummerWorks opening night party after the show:
You Should Have Stayed Home performer/playwright Tommy Taylor with The Honorable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport
In 2005, unbeknownst to almost everyone, theatre and dance artists Ame Henderson, Chad Dembski, and Jacob Zimmer spent a summer at Hub 14 making a “play”. Six years later, after more than a dozen shows and national and international tours, they return to spend another August at Hub 14.
Perhaps in a Hundred Years is a tender science fiction story about three friends stuck in outer space, waiting for the future to arrive. Despite an almost overwhelming pessimism for the long term future, which many of us share, Perhaps in a Hundred Years endeavors to keep it upbeat, or at least tenderly, militantly, hopeful.
“(SummerWorks) is tackling one of the biggest thorns in the city’s side in recent years: last year’s G20 summit, demonstrations and police overkill. In the highly anticipated play You Should Have Stayed Home, writer Tommy Taylor depicts his experience as a detainee in the squalid makeshift prison where hundreds of protesters were held.”
“Despite a certain controversy over a play about homegrown terrorism last year, SummerWorks isn’t shying away from politics. In this show from Praxis Theatre, Tommy Taylor adapts a Facebook note he wrote last year after being detained for 24 hours during the Toronto G20 Summit for the stage. Billed as “the true story of a heartbroken Canadian.”
“Here are a few of our best guesses as to what shows might cause a stir (and even if they don’t, they’re worth checking out).
You Should Have Stayed Home: A G20 Romp
The always political Praxis Theatre teams up with Tommy Taylor’s company The Original Norwegian in a stage adaptation of Taylor’s experience being illegally detained while out for a walk during last summer’s G20.”
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”