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

Date: 2011 December

December 30, 2011, by

The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: Hilarious, heartbreaking, dedicated to exposing the Means of Production in the 21st Century

by Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler


The Cult of Mac for including Mike Daisey’s play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs in its round-up of 2011 Mac stories.

Cult of Mac reports that in February of this year, bad publicity was at an all-time high surrounding the conditions and suicides at the Chinese factory Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier. Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak was apparently moved to tears by the story as told by Mike Daisey when he saw the show, and urged Tim Cook, Apple’s Acting CEO to see it as well, saying “I will never be the same after seeing that show.” [Full disclosure: this list was created on two Macbooks, with some side research on one iPad, after tweeting to one another via two iPhones.]

We’re not surprised by Wozniak’s reaction to Daisey’s performance. Daisey has appeared on a number of 2011 lists across North America, and for the New York Times list of Cleverest Theatrical Moments a category was created for “most remarkable storyteller who isn’t Mike Daisey”. Daisey was a definite influence on our co-production of You Should Have Stayed Home at SummerWorks this summer, and we hope he’ll come to Toronto soon.


Richard Ouzounian for his entertaining and unabashed campaign against the new regime at Canadian Stage.

Ouzounian didn’t have much to say in favour of Canadian Stage’s 2011 productions, noting that the only shows anyone seems to be enjoying are the “imports”. He’s quick to congratulate Theatre Passe Muraille on importing Ride the Cyclone, however, hinting that perhaps it’s not WHETHER a show is imported but WHO does the importing, if you’re looking for a measure of consistency. (For more on Ouzounian’s vendetta against large-scale theatrical risk-taking, see Globe and Mail Critic J. Kelly Nestruck’s thoughts on the matter.)

Maybe they’ll open the balcony, but if they do it just to mount Shirley Valentine again who cares?

General Assembly at Occupy Toronto


Torontoist for embracing complexity and contradictions by listing Occupy Toronto as both Hero and Villain in their year-end poll.

For progressive-minded Torontonians who think structural change is required to make our society more just, generous and inclusive, Occupy Toronto was equal parts inspiration and frustration.

HERO: “Nominated for: establishing a beachhead of resistance during an age of austerity… Occupy Toronto may have annoyed a lot of neighbours with its first volley of direct action, but in the long run that annoyance has forced a critically vital discussion about social justice into the mainstream.”

VILLAIN “Nominated for: squandering a rare opportunity… “Friday” made Rebecca Black famous; it did not make her talented… No matter what the alt-press told you, the robber barons never broke a sweat worrying about the park-dwellers.”


Josh Stearns for topping the list of Storify’s Stories of the Year.

Storify is an awesome resource that reinforces the notion of Twitter as a microblogging or even news-writing tool. Earlier this year we enjoyed Jonathan Goldsbie’s use of Storify to highlight humourous tweets collected under the #matlowmurdermystery hashtag he created after Councillor Matlow tweeted about attending a murder mystery dinner.

David Hains was another great Storifyer with his use of Storify to collect the Open Letter Councillor Wong-Tam wrote to Mayor Ford via Twitter after she had been blocked from attending a City child care meeting.

Storify used its own tool to highlight the 3 most “liked” stories of 2011, with Josh Stearns topping that list after collecting stories about journalists being arrested at various Occupy protests across the U.S. Stearns had this to say about Storify: “It really paints a whole picture, rather than just being a series of links… You get to see journalists … being tackled by police, shouting that they’re press in video they took as they’re being arrested.”


John Coulborne in the Toronto Sun’s ‘Best on Stage on 2011’ for making The Last 15 Seconds his #1 play of 2011.

Just because we missed this multimedia show about terrorism created and presented by Kitchener/Waterloo’s MT Space at Theatre Passe Muraille doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about it topping this list. Great to see a critic unafraid to give accolades a show with reduced profile, if it is in fact the best thing he saw all year.

We're all used to this image now, but take a sec to imagine what it was like the moment before doing it.


Huffington Post Canada for including theatre artist Brigette DePape and her STOP Harper sign in their Top News Photos of 2011.

When a lone page on Parliament Hill walked onto the floor during the Throne Speech with the STOP Harper sign she had smuggled in under her jacket, the notion that brave and unimagined theatrical interventions would be required under a Harper Majority was cemented.

It turned out that the page, Brigette DePape, is also a theatre artist who had toured the Canadian fringe circuit with a solo show she had written about the possibility of change through activism. Here’s to theatre artists taking more chances in 2012.


J Kelly Nestruck for The Globe and Mail’s Theatre ‘Year in Review’ which reiterates the important role Summerworks plays in the theatrical ecosystem.

For continuing to point out that The SummerWorks Festival is one of the most important places for new theatrical work to emerge and that the recent decision to remove funding by Heritage Canada smacks of political interference.

Ride The Cyclone (practically every 2011 top 10 list), If We Were Birds (2011 Governor General Award) and The Middle Place (2011 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award), are just a few of the shows that used Summerworks as a barebones way to get these important works in front of an audience. There is no credible reason based on artistic merit for this festival to have its funding pulled.


NOW Magazine for their bursting-at-the-seams “Top 10” list.

Not content to mention a mere ten favourites from 2011, Jon Kaplan and Glenn Sumi of NOW Magazine had to include a selection of “other standout shows” and “riveting revivals” along with their “top 10”. This is probably a reflection of the amount of shows this duo sees in a year, and a reflection of their commitment to covering a wide range of indie theatre.

Among their favourites and honourable mentions were several shows by indie companies big and small, including Obsidian Theatre, Studio 180, Litmus Theatre, and Convergence Theatre. (And no 2011 list is complete without mention of Atomic Vaudeville’s Ride the Cyclone from Victoria.) NOW Magazine seems to get how this new theatre ecology works.


Howard Sherman for putting together the Mother of All Theatre Top 10 Lists.

This producer, consultant and pundit used his website to compile, summarize and link to most of the major theatre-related top 10 lists for cities across North America. the English-speaking world. Tip-o-the-hat Sir. Well played.

Way to go Ombudsman Marin – you are the top of the top 10s for 2011.


Andre Marin forOntario Ombudsman’s Top 10 Highlights of 2011

First off – flat out mad props to any provincial ombudsman who takes some of his or her time between Christmas and New Year’s to publish a Top 10 list of things their office investigated that year and promote it on their personal Twitter account.

Secondly, although he rates it #8 on his list, we think his report ‘Caught in The Act’ which widely condemns policing actions actions at The G20 Toronto Summit as “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history” is historically and fundamentally a categorically important document for all Canadians concerned with preservation of civil rights.

December 26, 2011, by
1 comment

December 23, 2011, by

Praxis Theatre 2011 Season

Dear friends, readers and patrons of  Praxis Theatre:

We have only until January 7th 2012 to fundraise with a charitable receipt for supporting Jesus Chrysler.

If you are ever going to donate to Praxis Theatre – Now is the time.

Click here to donate & receive a charitable receipt*

This is an exciting time for Praxis Theatre. Jesus Chrysler was our first production as part of the season of an established Toronto theatre, and the first time we have employed our artists under the Canadian Theatre Agreement.

All of this costs money and we couldn’t do it without the support of our donors. We are so close to reaching our goal, but we need your help to get us there… so we’re calling on our friends across Canada to help this indie company out. We are seeking $25 donations from far and wide from anyone who can contribute to supporting Praxis Theatre.

If you have enjoyed any of the three different works we presented at three stages of development this year, or simply just enjoy reading the blog – a $25 donation from many of you would go a long way toward ensuring there will be more of the same in the future.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in theatre and on the internet in 2012.


Michael and Aislinn

*If you choose to donate online through Canada Helps and Theatre Passe Muraille – select “Praxis Theatre – Jesus Chrysler” in the Fund/Designation drop down box.

December 18, 2011, by
1 comment

Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident playwright who was jailed repeatedly, having his work banned by hardline Communist authorities before becoming the first post-1989 President of Czechslovakia, has died at age 75.

A personification of the potential for praxis between art, activism, and politics, his legacy is nothing less than a transformed country, continent and understanding of what art can achieve.

Central to Havel’s role as a dissident was his role as a signatory and vocal promoter of Charter 77, which led to his imprisonment, and continues to be influential as a political manifesto that advocates for human rights in a global context:

Charter 77 is not an organization. It has not statutes, no permanant organs and no organized membership. Everyone who agrees with ideas behind it participates in its work and supports its members.

Charter 77 is not a base for opposition political activity. It wants to serve the general interest like many similar examples of civic initiatives in various countries – West and East. It does not lay down its own programs of political or social reforms or changes but to engage in the spheres of its activity in a constructive dialogue with the political and state power, especially by calling attention to various concrete instances of the violation of human and civil rights, to prepare documentation on them, propose solutions, submit various general proposals aimed at deepening these rights and guaranteeing them”

Declaration of Charter 77

December 15, 2011, by

Justin Trudeau

Previously denied accreditation by The Harper Government to attend the recent climate talks in Durban, NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie had risen in Parliament to question Environment Minister Peter Kent about the government’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Kyoto. When the Minister’s response began with”if she had been in Durban”, deliberately turning the knife on the fact that he had stopped her from going,  it was a moment of cataclysmic duplicity sparking outrage from the opposition, culminating in Trudeau calling Minister Kent a “Piece of Shit” (47 secs).

Next Media Animation

Two years ago we blogged about Taipei based NMA as also “possibly a version of internet theatre” just as it was gaining notoriety. At the time, part of our interest stemmed from a contest they were running to have your own avatar become part of the news. They seemed to have stopped that promotion now, but in this case it doesn’t really matter as Canadians are in fact the news.

Rick Mercer

Rick Mercer has been on top of what Canada’s reluctance to accept is global responsibilities by using misleading language like “intensity based targets” for some time. Although some of the responsibility for not implementing Kyoto lies with previous Liberal federal governments, Canada’s global commitments were probably permanently DOA in 2006 when The Harper Government abandoned any pretense of environmental responsibility and this video was made for The Mercer Report.

December 12, 2011, by

Lupe interviews former Mayor David Miller

by Aislinn Rose

Former Mayor David Miller faced some tough interviews during his two terms as Mayor of Toronto, but perhaps none quite like this 2008 interview with one Lupe Dominguez (aka Melissa D’Agostino).

Since that time, the City of Toronto elected a new Mayor, Rob Ford, and Lupe would like to get to know him better. She’s having a Christmas party this year and has put out a passionate plea to ask Mayor Ford to join in the festivities:

Lupe extends an invite to current Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Click to Enlarge

Mayor Ford is a tweeter, so perhaps he’ll attend Lupe’s A Very Lupe Xmas this Wednesday, December 14th, at 8pm? It will be a twitter-friendly performance, complete with tweet seats.

As Co-Producer of Lupe’s party, I will be there tweeting from my personal account @AislinnTO.We’ll be using the hashtag #LupeXmas, and I’d love to be able to add another hashtag: #FordXmas. See you there Mayor Ford?

Click here for all the relevant production details on the A Very Lupe Xmas Facebook event,

Click here to see the entire offering of promotional videos highlighting each of the “wise men”, and her right-hand man, Pepe, on their Indie Go Go page.

December 7, 2011, by

Aviva Armour-Ostroff as Dee. Set and Costumes by Scott Penner. Photo by Will O'Hare

“Jesus Chrysler is currently onstage at a re-imagined Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. It is an important Toronto story about our history. My jaw dropped and I said “wow” out loud when I entered the transformed theatre. I was immediately transported into another world and welcomed by fellow comrades. It was like a child seeing Santa’s Village at the mall for the first time.”

George Perry- Mooney on Theatre

No matter what night of the week, you can see Jesus Chrysler for $20. Only $15 for weekend matinees.

December 7, 2011, by

The Debacle – Click to enlarge

The Aftermath - click to enlarge

by Shira Leuchter

As a follow-up to last week’s post, here are the two pieces that I created as a response to The Aftermath and The Debacle. The three workshop productions that are featured at the New Groundswell Festival this year are so incredibly different from one another – in content, style and approach. Nightwood Theatre’s New Groundswell Festival runs until Saturday December 10th. So you’ve still got time to get there!

The Aftermath Materials: Toy Bird’s Nest, Paint, Newspaper Text

The Debacle Materials: Mason Jar, Found Images, Tape, Music Box Blueprint

The Aftermath, by Lisa Codrington, is directed by Audrey Dwyer and features Lisa Codrington and Ijeoma Emesowum.

The Debacle is by Ann-Marie Kerr and Susan Leblanc-Crawford (Zuppa Theatre, Halifax)

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.

Her website is here and she collects all of her shallowest thoughts here.

December 6, 2011, by

Check it out – Jesus Chrysler has its own video game: Save a Pinko!

Inspired by the time Eugenia “Jim” Watts’ spent as an ambulance driver during the Spanish Civil War, the game has seven levels of increasing difficulty as you pick up wounded comrades (pinkos), which earns you points while you avoid fascist soldiers, their bullets and boulders.

Save a Pinko is created by Dames Making Games co-coordinator @cecilycarver, who also created the Ride The Cyclone game.

Cecily got her start making games through The Difference Engine Initiative, which “aims to diversify what kind of videogames are made” by “introducing new gamemakers from under-represented groups”.

What is your high score? Can you finish Save a Pinko? Only Cecily has completed the game so far, so it is difficult to complete but it is possible…

December 5, 2011, by

The budget brought forward on November 28 recommends a 10% cut to arts grants totaling $1.94 million.  Budget deputations will be heard on December 7 and 8, and the final budget will be approved by City Council on January 17.

Friends of the Arts and its 20,000 supporters from every Ward calls on all City Councillors to support sustained investment in grants to artists and arts organizations in the 2012 budget.

The impact of a $1.94 million cut (10%) to arts grants will be extremely serious for Toronto residents, arts organizations and artists while offering very little short-term savings for the City’s bottom line.  It will directly cause:

  • Reduced investment in Toronto:  for every $1 granted by the City, $17.75 is raised from other sources in support of arts organizations.  If a 10% cut were applied to Toronto’s arts organizations (large and small) it would translate into a $25 million loss of investment in Toronto, affecting jobs, performances, festivals and exhibitions.
  • Fewer arts projects in neighbourhoods across the city:  TAC currently supports 250 arts projects annually with grants totaling just over $1 million.
  • Fewer individual artists will receive support: TAC currently supports 200 individual artists including writers, composers, visual and media artists with grants totaling just over $1 million.

Over 20,000 Torontonians from every ward in the City have signed the Friends of the Arts petition, calling on Toronto City Councillors to maintain investment in the arts.

In May 2011, Toronto City Council voted unanimously in favour of the Creative Capital Gains report recommending increased support for the arts to $25 per capita.

The current recommendation would reduce the city’s support for the arts to just $17 per capita, much less than competitive North American cities.

Arts and culture are essential to Toronto’s economy, generating $9 billion every year. The city achieves this economic return on a relatively small arts investment.

130,000 people work in the sector – and many more depend on related businesses, including those in hospitality and tourism.

Toronto’s arts scene is a big part of what makes Toronto a great place to live, work and visit – yet Toronto invests less in the arts than other major cities; City Council has been working to change that, and it must stay the course.


Friends of the Arts is a network of arts supporters including the following organizations:  Arts Vote Toronto, Arts Etobicoke,, Business for the Arts, Creative Trust, Lakeshore Arts, Scarborough Arts, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Toronto Arts Foundation, Urban Arts.