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

Date: 2012 April

April 30, 2012, by
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by Greta Papageorgiu

Omar Majeed and Ryan Mullins tell us what frog princes and punk rockers have in common and weigh in on the recent Telefilm and NFB cuts.  The two directors are in town for HotDocs to promote their film The Frog Princes, a documentary about a troupe of developmentally challenged actors staging a production of The Frog and the Princess.

“When anyone has this debate over why we fund the arts for young people, I say ‘Watch this documentary.’ I challenge anyone not to cry.”

– Ange-Aimée Woods, CBC Radio

To buy tickets and see the trailer, click here.

The first screening was yesterday, but there are two more chances to see it: Tuesday, May 1st @ 4:45pm and Saturday, May 5th @ 9:45pm.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She performs and teaches throughout Ontario and Quebec. Greta loves the theatre and hopes to share some of her love with you through 2 Minutes With Greta Papageorgiu.

April 26, 2012, by

Where's the beef? * Fringe Waiver has been replaced by the Festival Agreement.

by Michael Wheeler

CAEA is about to change how it interacts with indie and self-producing artists in Canada.

Before this goes down, CAEA Executive Director Arden Ryshpan is engaged in a cross-country tour to get feedback on what this new agreement should look like.

The snarky part of me wants to cite the numerous concrete suggestions and even a model contract that has undergone extensive public consultation ALREADY, forming the basis for not one, or two, but three overwhelming votes by membership at AGMs to reform the way indie theatre is contracted, as well as the great work done by the Independent Theatre Review Committee. But let’s let bygones be bygones. If moving forward to the agreement membership wants means pretending none of this happened and now is the time to make suggestions, so be it.

Any Equity member in good standing who makes theatre in or around Toronto and has thoughts on this will be able to speak to Arden directly on Sunday May 6th at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.  Doors at 6:00pm, meeting begins at 6:30 sharp. Light refreshments will be served. Bring your Equity card.

If you are a CAEA member and don’t want to complain for another decade about a confusing array of prejudicial contracts that make it impossible to create your own work, please organize your schedules accordingly. Last chance to make an impact. Your voice is required (again).

Don’t live in Toronto? Here are the other tour dates:

Date: Monday, May 7, Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (PT)
Doors open: 6:30 p.m. (PT)
Location: Revue Stage on Granville Island – 1601 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC

Date: Sunday, May 13, Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. CT
Doors open: 5:30 p.m. CT
Location: Lunchbox Theatre – 160 115 9 Avenue SE, Calgary, AB
Special instructions:
Additional Information: Socializing at the Auburn Saloon will follow the meeting

Date: Monday, May 14, Time: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. CST
Location: Second Playing Space at the Timms Centre for the Arts (University of Alberta campus in Strathcona).

Date: Sunday, May 27, Time: TBA
Location: Prairie Theatre Exchange (Unit Y300 (3rd floor) – 393 Portage Avenue, Portage Place, Winnipeg, MB

Date: Monday, May 28, Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. CST
Doors open: 6:15 p.m. CST
Location: The Refinery Arts & Spirit Centre – 609 Dufferin Ave., Saskatoon, SK

Date: Sunday, June 3, Time: TBA
Location: TBA

Date: Monday, June 4, Time: TBA
Location: TBA

Date: Sunday, June 10
Time: TBA
Location: TBA

April 24, 2012, by

by Michael Wheeler

This winter I worked with editor and activist Brigette DePape to write an article about Praxis Theatre. Titled Creating Political Theatre on The Internet, it looks at a number of projects Praxis has been up to and includes an excerpt by Tommy Taylor from his Facebook note turned theatre piece, You Should Have Stayed Home. It is published in Power of Youth, Youth and Community-Led Activism in Canada.

DePape came into the public eye as the rogue page who interrupted the first throne speech of the Harper Majority Government (elected by a minority of Canadians) with a silent protest holding a STOP HARPER sign.  Since then amongst other activities, she has been busy editing this book published by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and more recently organizing against the unsuccessful Harper-aligned Wildrose surge in Alberta.

Powe of Youth is divided into three sections STOP, SPEAK, and ACT and includes essays and interviews with young activists from across Canada on the work they are engaged in and the ideas informing these movements. The official launch of the book will take place Wednesday May 16 from 5:00-7:00pm at Under One Roof at 251 Bank Street in Ottawa and will include an informal panel about youth activism and challenges and vision for the future.

If you can’t make it to pick up a copy in person, just use the handy order form below!

April 19, 2012, by

by Pip Bradford

Subject: Byron Laviolette
Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012

I met Byron several years ago, at the Fringe when he was with a Morro and Jasp show. This is the record of a day we spent together, to better understand the life of a man who runs with clowns.

Noon: The subject suggests we meet at B Espresso, a trendy coffee shop on East Queen at noon. At ten minutes past noon, the subject appears wearing a rumpled overcoat, a white tshirt, and a hangover. I think maybe this is a “sad clown” look.

Inside the subject orders a coffee: a double Americano with “cream for colour, sugar for taste, and cinnamon for ‘shapam’” I don’t know what that last word means. Maybe it is Clown for “delicious”.

12:30 pm: The subject has brought me to what appears to be a terrorist cell meeting. Or maybe it’s for a show. It’s hard to tell. If they are terrorists, they’re really nice about it, which I suppose is what I should expect of Canadian terrorists. None of them appear to be clowns.

Also what my Existentialism notes looked like

12:55 pm: The subject makes sure to keep me in the loop during the meeting. Meanwhile, I doodle pictures in my notebook of cream pies and red noses, and pretend I’m making notes.

1:00 pm: It is, in fact, a meeting about a show called ZED.TO. It’s a really neat immersive, experiential concept piece, but there are no clowns in it.

1:15 pm: The meeting adjourns. We smoke a cigarette.

1:30 pm: Social media break. I upload a picture of a lemur to my Facebook page.

1:40 pm: We get on the subway to go to Woodbine. On the way, we gossip about people we don’t like. Then we talk about shows we loved. Then we talk about my new job.

We do talk briefly about clowns.

Seriously, where are we?

2:05 pm: We arrive at our destination. Upon emerging from the subway station, it appears we have gone into the Heart of Darkness: the extreme East End of Toronto. We smoke a cigarette and check our smartphones.

2:30 pm: We arrive at the house of one of the subject’s associates, Amy Lee, a known clown, to examine a red carpet with sun damage. The subject needs it for a benefit event on the following Tuesday, and he’s hoping to call upon my dubious expertise. Eventually we decide to simply cut off the yellowed bits. We smoke a cigarette and agree to go get another coffee.

3:15 pm:  We get lunch at a café on the Danforth. Nothing humourous happens.

Not clowning around

4:00: The subject tells me that this part of the day is normally his office hours. This appears to consist of finding an empty park bench and fooling around on his laptop. After I take a few photos with my iPhone, we decide to go visit one of his associates in the neighbourhood.

The home of a known clown

4:15: We arrive at the home of Heather Annis, another known clown. I accept the tea she offers. The subject has a beer. There is a small dog present – a common prop in clowning – but said dog is notably absent of the ruffled collar and cone hat I was expecting.

Not Pictured: Cone Hat and Ruffle

The subject tells me about the project I observed a meeting for that morning. I ask him why there are no clowns in it. He points out that it is possible to do more than one thing. This is very exciting news.

5:00 I leave for work.

Byron Laviolette is a Canadian director, dramaturg, writer and critic. In addition to working towards a PhD in Theatre at York University, he is also a co-creator of the Morro and Jasp series and is the lead narrative member on the Mission Business’ ZED.TO. He is also an excellent sport.

Sarah ‘Pip’ Bradford is the Mainspace Technician at Tarragon Theatre, the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Toronto Fringe Festival, and the founder of Art Is Hard, a grassroots arts philanthropy project. She is also a noted lemur enthusiast. If you like what you see here, she blogs (infrequently) at The Christopher Pike Project, and posts daily to Tips From Pip, an unsolicited Tumblr advice blog. She has nine followers.

April 15, 2012, by

by Greta Papageorgiu

Welcome to my new video column for Praxis Theatre: 2 MINUTES WITH GRETA.  You might remember me as the person behind an earlier series for Praxis called Celebrity Theatre. Now I am taking a more in depth look at the personalities who tread the boards of Toronto’s stages. For this first installment, I talk to Nina Lee Aquino on the set of SIA about being an Artistic Director, wearing different hats and what Toronto theatre needs.

Today is your last chance to see SIA, 2:30pm in the Factory Theatre Studio. Click here to buy tickets.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She has performed extensively throughout Ontario and Quebec and was invited to teach in Munich, Germany last year. She loves the theatre and hopes to share some of it with you through 2 Minutes With Greta.

April 10, 2012, by

Mortified – click to enlarge

by Shira Leuchter

I’m a big fan of Harbourfront’s HATCH program, and the 2012 season begins this week with Mortified, a performance that “creates a sonic experience through movement and mayhem.”

Jenn Goodwin and Camilla Singh invited me into their jam session one morning late last month, and I was able to get a glimpse of their process as they rocked their drums for hours. Here’s a piece that reflects the work that I saw.

Check out the sole performance of Mortified:

Saturday April 14th
Studio Theatre
York Quay Centre

Materials: Wood Board, encaustic, oil

Shira Leuchter is an actor who also makes performance stuff and other art stuff. She co-stars in the short RUNG, which will be having its International Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month. She is an Associate Artist with UnSpun Theatre.
April 3, 2012, by

by Mitchell Cushman

In his best-selling biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson details at length the Apple founder’s infamous reality distortion field—his ability to “bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand”. Isaacson recounts how Jobs used this knack for re-purposing the truth in order to dream up seemingly impossible products, but also as a way of restructuring past experiences in a way that best suited whatever current narrative he was in the process of spinning. In this way as in others, Steve Jobs was a storyteller—a practitioner of theatre. And over the past two weeks, we have received a powerful reminder that monologuist Mike Daisey, creator of the play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, is as well.

As new evidence has shown, Daisey has been employing his own reality distortion field, and has bent many a fact to fit his purpose. (I won’t list the embellishments here, but they have been everywhere in the news; for those interested, I would highly recommend listening to the March 16 episode of This American Life, “Retraction”). For Daisey, the purpose at hand has been inspiring North Americans into demanding better labour conditions at the Chinese factories that manufacture our various electronics. And to this end, Daisey has achieved a real measure of success. The New York Times and many other major news organizations have taken up the fight and Apple’s Foxconn factory has become a household name. In response to these pressures Apple and Foxconn announced this past week, in a landmark admission of corporate culpability, that they will be implementing a massive overhaul of their labour practices, hiring more workers, eliminating illegal overtime and substantially improving the safety protocols in the factory. A direct line can be drawn between the growing profile of Daisey’s play, and the attention surrounding its cause.

Daisey’s ill-advised foray into journalistic territory—adapting his play for This American Life, appearing on various news outlets—has clouded the fact that he began by creating Agony as a piece of theatre, an art form in which invention is not only permissible, but kind of the point. When we attend a play, we are willingly offering ourselves up to be taken in, to suspend our disbelief, in order that we might connect to some underlying truth. This is exactly what Agony has done for its audiences. As host Ira Glass pinpointed during Daisey’s first appearance on This American Life a few months back, Daisey has done something “really kind amazing”, namely make people newly question an unjust system which on some level most of us have come to accept. “Which,” as Glass maintains “is really quite a trick, you really have to know how to tell a story to be able to pull something like that off.”

Knowing how to tell a story means something very different in the theatre than it does in journalism. Daisey has publicly regretted and apologized for his conflation of the two, and any damage that this may have caused, either to the cause or to the journalistic organizations whom he let take his words as fact. The uncomfortable question to consider is, had Daisey not included these fabrications, had his show just rested on the staggering statistics documenting the inhuman working conditions, without any of the what we now know to be the theatricalized moments, without the disfigured line worker apocryphally calling Daisey’s iPad “magic” or without the imagined gun-toting factory guards, would the same call to action have resulted? Would Apple and Foxconn have been driven to publicly vow to do better? Or would we all simply have tuned out these numbers, and relegated them to the statistical scrapheap in the back of our minds? Is this an instance where theatrical storytelling, more so than journalistic reporting, has been necessary in order to prompt change?

We’re interested in examining these questions, and so we will be continuing forward with our upcoming production of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, adapting the show to engage with this new level of narrative complication. We hope that you will come see our show in May, and sift through these many layers of distorted reality, even as, like with any worthwhile piece of theatre, we attempt to catch you up in them.

Outside the March, in association with Theatre Passe Muraille, presents:

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Adapted from the monologue by Mike Daisey

Starring David Ferry / Directed by Mitchell Cushman

Coming to Toronto May 2012, in a secret location near you

Ticket information to be released in early April.

Advanced ticket requests can be emailed to