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

Date: 2012 December

December 31, 2012, by

Stephen Daldry’s 1992 production of An Inspector Calls highlighted for its design by Ian MacNeil in The Guardian. Photograph: PR

Stephen Daldry’s 1992 production of An Inspector Calls highlighted for its design by Ian MacNeil in The Guardian.   Photograph: PR

by Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler


The Guardian for giving props to designers in The 10 best theatre designs – in pictures

Critic Susannah Clapp looks at some of the most compelling set designs that defined modern theatre over the past century. Beginning with Gordon Craig’s Hamlet at The Moscow Art Theatre where Stanislavsky and Chekhov were busy transforming directing, acting and playwriting at the same time; dropping in on Peter Brook’s era-defining Midsummer Night’s Dream; and hitting up Punchdrunk’s Faust, created just before their perpetual immersive hit Sleep No More, this visual list is a palpable study of how design has impacted where we came from and where we’re going in modern theatre.


Jeff Elder for going meta with his 10 Best “Best of 2012” List

This year we’re going super meta by including a list of the 10 Best “Best of 2012” lists in our Top 10 of the Top 10 lists of 2012. Still with us? Storify user Jeff Elder has collected his favourite lists of the year, including Weird Weather, Tattooed Olympians and Best Memes .

If this keeps up, next year we’ll have to put together a Top 10 of the Top 10 lists of Top 10s.


The Ontario Ombudsman for continuing to highlight policing issues in Canada

Last year Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin was number one on our list of the Top 10 of the Top 10 for 2011 for posting his highlights from the year and bringing attention to his damning report on the Toronto G20. His 2012 highlights include a recent notice from the Law Society of Upper Canada questioning how lawyers could ever represent multiple segregated witness officers in SIU cases. Marin had reported on this problem in 2011 and 2008.

Liza Balkan's Out The Window, co-produced this year by The Theatre Centre, asked hard questions about lawyers representing more than one officer in SIU cases

Liza Balkan’s Out The Window, co-produced this year by The Theatre Centre, asked hard questions about lawyers representing more than one officer in SIU cases. (l-r: Matt Murray, Jason Siks, Brett Donahue, Zahir Gilani and R.H. Thomson)


The Toronto Star for its Top cultural gaffes of 2012

If you are a fan of the Harper Government’s agenda to use public cultural funding to “continue the appropriation of national symbols”, this list by entertainment writer Martin Knelman is for you. By characterizing the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ critique of the Federal Government’s decision to replace the Canadian Museum of Civilization with the Canadian Museum of History as “looking a gift horse in the mouth”, he reminds us that our role as artists is not to think about how our creations and institutions shape society, but to take money where we can get it and stop asking difficult questions.


Fab Magazine for celebrating the work of Nina Arsenault in their 2012 Queer in Review

Starting the list with “We won everything!”, Fab Magazine has put together a list of “Everything and anything gay that was a thing in 2012”: the successes of the US election, Anderson Cooper coming out, the death of Whitney Houston, and Obama’s joke about replacing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” with “It’s Raining Men”. Toronto Artist Nina Arsenault was called out for her many projects of 2012 in a section entitled “Meanwhile, I cleaned my room”.


Nieman Lab Predictions for Journalism 2013

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University asked 35 of the smartest people they knew what was going to happen next year. The result is a broad array of compelling ideas for anyone interested in how communication is transforming in the digital age. We haven’t read through all of them yet, but Digg GM Jake Levine’s The Broadcast-ification of Social Media is one of the smartest and most succinct analyses of how Facebook and Twitter are now working against promoting the same attributes that made them great.

Maev Beaty explored the issues and process behind The Africa Trilogy on Praxis in 2009.

Maev Beaty explored the issues and process behind The Africa Trilogy on Praxis in 2009.


Pretty much every Toronto theatre list for loving Maev Beaty, with a special nod to The Grid for including her work on the Edward Bond Festival

From the Toronto Star’s Five Faves of 2012, in which Cate Blanchett became known as the “Maev Beaty of Australia”, to The National Post’s The Year’s Best Performances, to Jon Kaplan’s Top 10 Theatre Artists in NOW Magazine, Maev Beaty was everywhere in this year’s plethora of best-of lists. Not content with starring in a number of Toronto’s biggest hits this year, Beaty also co-produced the hugely successful Edward Bond Festival with her husband Alan Dilworth, as pointed out in The Grid’s end of the year list.


David Mirvish & the Off-Mirvish Season in Blog TO’s theatre news from 2012 and Torontoist’s 2012 Heroes

We have made it pretty clear in this space we think the new Off-Mirvish Season launched with the hugely successful Terminus is an exciting development for our theatrical ecosystem that has the potential to create a bridge between the sweat-subsidized indie world and commercial theatre. Blog TO’s Keith Bennie and Torontoist’s Carly Maga both recognized this in their year-end round-ups as well. Next up in the Off-Mirvish season: TO indie powerhouse Studio 180 gets a new audience for their critically acclaimed production of Clybourne Park.


The Globe and Mail for raising big issues in Year’s Most Memorable Players in the Theatre Community

This year’s roundup by critic Kelly Nestruck looked at how board directors of Canadian theatres were thrust into the spotlight in 2012. It’s a fair point – we did spend a lot of time talking about boards this year. What makes this piece different than several end-of-year articles on this topic, are the remarks left by playwright Michael Healey in the comments. Intimately connected to several of the Board Controversies, Healey’s comments connect the issue to greater forces shaping our theatre and the necessity of public investment in the arts.


The @CBCCommunity for making an example of Senator Brazeau in their Top Twitter Gaffes of 2012

When Canadian Press reporter Jen Ditchburn wrote a story on the worst attendance records among Canadian Senators, Senator Brazeau was at the top of that list. Brazeau took to twitter to say what would happen if Ditchburn changed the D in her name to a B. The reporter assured Brazeau that he was absolutely, most definitely the very first person to have ever made fun of her name in this way.

Brazeau also made news earlier in November for collecting the $20k housing allowance that Senators receive if their primary residence is more than 100 kilometres away from the capital, despite the apartment he rents across the river from Ottawa.

To finish off a great year, Brazeau has gone on to suggest that Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence doesn’t set “a good example for young Aboriginal youth” with her hunger strike. We’re not sure the thousands rallying across the country agree.

Marjorie Chan's stunning image of hundreds of Canadians setting an example in support of #idlenomore and Chief Theresa Spence at the Toronto Eaton Centre

Marjorie Chan’s stunning twitter image of hundreds of Canadians setting an example in support of #idlenomore and Chief Theresa Spence at the Toronto Eaton Centre December 30, 2012

December 27, 2012, by

Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa

by Aislinn Rose

On December 10th, over 5000 people rallied across the country against controversial omnibus Bill C-45. This legislation makes sweeping changes to the Indian Act and drastically reduces protections for waterways without any consultation with First Nations, in direct opposition to existing treaties. You may not have heard about those rallies on December the 10th because our national media was busy covering a certain little well-dressed monkey lost at an Ikea store.

But the grassroots campaign known by its twitter hashtag #IdleNoMore, which grew rapidly through the use of social media, coupled with the current hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, has forced a narrative shift. With blog posts in the Guardian, interviews on CBC (below), and various news articles and editorials, the movement has found an international audience, and international solidarity.

Chief Theresa Spence has been on her hunger strike since December 11th. She seeks a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Queen to discuss our country’s existing treaties. “All treaties were signed by the Crown — the government — and our ancestors … the treaties are there for a reason and either the prime minister doesn’t understand them, or he doesn’t want to respect them,” Spence has said.

Movements of solidarity have popped up across the country and in other parts of the world. In Toronto, Native Earth Performing Arts has organized a Fasting Relay in solidarity with Chief Spence. Artists in the community have each taken a day throughout Spence’s hunger strike to fast for the day in support of her efforts, and to send a unified message to the Prime Minister to meet with the First Nations leader.

What Chief Theresa Spence is doing is forcing the government and all of Canadian society to decide publicly whether they care if she – and by extension her people and our shared land – ceases to live. She is willing to die.  This is an extreme measure that I have not had the courage to take. With this fasting relay, I am proud to join with my many beautiful communities to support Chief Spence in this small yet symbolically significant way.

~Tara Beagan, Artistic Director, Native Earth Performing Arts

Below is an ever-growing list of relay participants as gathered on Native Earth’s facebook event page. Please add your name to the comments section if you have joined the fast and are not on the list, and be sure to let Native Earth know if you haven’t yet joined the relay but would like to.

Find out more about upcoming Idle No More events on their official website here.

Native Earth Fasting Relay Timeline

Dec 12 Chief Spence began.

After 24 hours, and a fair assessment landing on the reality that Harper would not be hearing her, the organizing of this support relay began.

Dec 13 Steve Tredget (NEPA family) fasted in support before this relay began

Dec 14 Tara Beagan (NEPA)

Dec 15 Derek Garza (NEPA) and Tahani Afaneh (NEPA family)

Dec 16 Janet Antone (NEPA)

Dec 17 Jiv Parasram (Pandemic, New Harlem and Cahoots Theatre)

Dec 18 Aislinn Rose (Praxis Theatre), Richard Cliff (NEPA family) and Kenneth Williams (playwright)

Dec 19 Keith Barker (NEPA)

Dec 20 Rae Powell (NEPA) and Brooklyn Doran (NEPA family)

Dec 21 Winter Solstice, Andy Moro (NEPA family) and Troy Emery Twigg (Centre for Indigenous Theatre), Michelle Latimer (NEPA family, filmmaker)

Dec 22 PJ Prudat (NEPA family), Eli Ham (NEPA family) and Leah Simms-Karp (NEPA)

Dec 23 Rupal Shah (Nightswimming and Obsidian Theatre, NEPA member), Anita Majumdar (actor/playwright), Christopher Ross (NEPA family)

Dec 24 Deb Courchene (NEPA), Ashley Bomberry (NEPA family), Jiv Parasram again.

Dec 25 James Cade (NEPA family), Marjorie Chan (playwright)

Dec 26 Cole Alvis (NEPA), Luke Larocque, Jordan Tannahill (Suburban Beast)

Dec 27 Michael Wheeler (Praxis Theatre), Ruth Madoc-Jones (NEPA family and SummerWorks), Marilo Nunez (Alameda Theatre), Naomi Skwarna (Suburban Beast)

Dec 28 Brooklyn Doran, again (NEPA family), Aislinn Rose, again (Praxis Theatre) Sasha Kovacs, Marion de Vries (Centre for Indigenous Theatre)

Dec 29 Laura Nanni (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), Christine Rambukkana

Dec 30 Michael Rubenfeld (SummerWorks), Lisa C Ravensbergen (NEPA family)

Dec 31 Colin Doyle (actor) and Darla Contois (CIT)

Jan 1 Nicole Joy-Fraser


December 20, 2012, by


‘Tis well to be bereft of promis’d good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.”

-Samuel Taylor Colridge, This Lime Tree Bower My Prison



Anthony MacMahon is a playwright and actor from Saskatoon, recently relocated to Toronto. His short play, Eglington, will be a part of the Alumnae Theatre New Ideas Festival.

He appears in the Cart/Horse Theatre Toronto premiere of THIS LIME TREE BOWER by Conor McPherson. Playing until Dec. 22 at The Berkeley Theatre Upstairs @ 26 Berkeley St.

December 19, 2012, by
1 comment

Photo by Han Soete via Creative Commons

In 2013 Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre launch Civil Debates.

Civil Debates is a monthly series that invites two speakers from opposite sides of an argument to debate their perspectives for a live audience. It is also a forum for all attendees to participate and vote on who and what they agree with.

We hope this will be an opportunity to extend the online community we have developed over the years in a face-to-face setting, bringing those conversations into a physical space.  We’re enthused by the intelligent and civil discourse that has developed on, particularly in the comments of posts about hot button issues.

This got us thinking – ‘Hey – as a theatre company, shouldn’t we doing this live in a space with human bodies?’

Debate Questions

The topics for the initial four debates will be curated via a gallery installation January 12 and 13 at The Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre.

A dual system will be used in facilitating participation: Both sticky notes and a laptop will be available to post issues and ideas that people believe would benefit from more debate. These can be posted to topics like: Theatre, Politics, The City, and Whatever. There will also be the opportunity to suggest who you think would be a great debater.

The goal is to emerge with four questions that will inspire compelling debaters to participate in an event that has genuine community interest.

Debate Format

Debates will take place monthly at The Theatre Centre at 1095 Queen St. W (Queen and Dovercourt) in February, March, April and May 2013.

Debate format will be based on the Canadian Parliamentary model with two speakers for either side. Just like the best acting, each debater should have a responsibility to hear the arguments that come before them and respond – not just deliver a prepared statement.

Each debate will have a moderator whose job will be to ensure debaters obey the general rules as well as the speaking format. The formal debate will last around 40 minutes.

At the end of the debate, the floor will be opened to other participants, each of whom can speak for a period of two minutes. All participants, speaking and non, will be provided the opportunity to register their vote on the topic at the conclusion of the evening. These results will be posted back here on where further debate and conversation, as always, is encouraged.

Join the Debate

If you are interested in being a debater or moderator, drop us a line via Tell us why critical, respectful debate is important in 150 words or less.

Hope to see you in the tent during the final weekend of The Next Stage Festival. This series begins when we get our topics from you.

December 14, 2012, by

by Michael Wheeler

RaBIT is a grassroots initiative to change the way we vote in Toronto municipal elections to a ranked ballot.

Over the past five years, many places have switched to ranked balloting including San Francisco, Minneapolis, Memphis, Oakland and The Academy Awards. There are a number of benefits to this system, but two of the biggies are it ensures majority support and encourages a more positive political environment.

Viewed in this context, RaBIT is proposing a transformative adjustment to what politics is in Toronto. Gone would be talk of pushing lower profile candidates out of races to eliminate vote splitting, candidates would be respectful to opponents whose support they may need, and extreme candidates would have to convince a majority of voters their extreme ideas are attractive to win.

In the current first-past-the-post format that defines our voting system, none of this is possible. Divisional and oppositional wedge politics are the most effective route to power. Candidates are routinely elected with a majority of electors casting their ballots for other candidates who wanted different policies from the ones they support. I can understand how this ethos alienates a huge swath of people from engaging with politics.

So I’m going to the meeting this Monday to learn how to volunteer. There are a lot of problems in Toronto and issues I would like to put my energy into, but you have to pick your battles and this one seems like it could have some far-reaching consequences for many future administrations. The RaBIT team has done a great job to get this issue on the public agenda and taken seriously by city councillors and the media. Now is the time to push for this – and there is no substitute for a well-organized group of passionate citizens. As of publication there were already 90 confirmed attendees on the Facebook.

Hope to see you there!

Facebook Event: Hop to it! RaBIT volunteer meeting!

Monday December 17, 7pm @ Toronto City Hall

December 10, 2012, by


Throughout today and tomorrow Toronto City Council’s Budget Committee is hearing deputations from the community about what various citizens and organizations would like to see in the next budget. Again this year, a number of arts organizations and individuals will be making the case to increase arts funding to a previously promised $25 per capita.

The above video was created by, an alliance made up of over 60 arts organizations. It provides an excellent recap of their work to create a tax on billboards that would in turn provide the funding necessary for Council to follow through on their repeated commitments to increase that funding: the Capital Gains Report (passed 2011), Strategies for Arts and Culture Funding (2010), and Cultural Plan for a Creative City (2003.)

Praxis has written extensively in the past about and their activities, as well as the various public consultations that helped create documents like the Capital Gains Report, and we’ve live tweeted from a number of public events on this topic.

There are many things you can do to show your support for this initiative to create an arts-friendly budget in 2013. Click here for more information on about attending & supporting the deputations, the Artists Jam Session & Town Hall in January, or how to contact the Budget Committee members directly.

Check out the document below if you’d like more information on the billboard tax, and what exactly is asking of the Budget Committee for 2013.

Budget 2013