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

Date: 2013 February

February 28, 2013, by


by Aislinn Rose

Last week we blogged about an upcoming event at Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage Festival: The Dachshund UN. Well, tonight’s the big night for little doggies, and Praxis Theatre will join the throngs of dog-lovers and UN nerds as about 36 dachshunds enact a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. 117 dachshund and dachshund-mixes have been recruited for the effort, and you can get to know each of them here (if you can handle this much wiener dog in one sitting).

Praxis will be there to live tweet the event tonight at 7pm and you can follow the hashtag #DachshundUN right here in the live stream below. I’ll try to get some good pics. If you’re on twitter, you can follow us via @praxistheatre, and via @AislinnTO and @michaelcwheeler.

36 dogs on stage. What could go wrong?

Dachshund UN continues until March 3rd.

February 26, 2013, by


“Hidden Histories & Spectacular Misfits” @ Videofag, Photo by Jordan Tannahill

by Aislinn Rose

In 2007, the Indie Caucus was announced by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts as a forum for companies to work together through the many challenges that face indie theatre in Toronto. However, for the last few years, the Caucus has been focused primarily on tackling the major issues we face together in relation to Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.

You can click here to read the plethora of Indie Caucus-related posts we have written over the last few years. These posts include our campaign to get an indie-focused slate of candidates elected to CAEA Council in Ontario – along with our 5 successful new Ontario reps.

Last year I took on the role of Co-Chair of the Caucus, taking over the reins from everybody’s favourite guy, Richard Lee, and I was later elected to the TAPA Board of Directors where I’m a representative for indie theatre, amongst an awesome group of people advocating for Theatre, Dance and Opera in the city.

On Wednesday March 6th, I’ll be co-Chairing our next Indie Caucus meeting, but this one is going to be a little different.

On March 6th, our meeting will be held at Suburban Beast’s new interdisciplinary performance space, Videofag. We’ll be meeting with our regulars for a quick update at 6pm (where we’ll probably talk about Equity’s new “small-scale” theatre policies), and then opening the doors at 7pm to anyone who’d like to know more about the Indie Caucus, and any companies or individuals interested in joining.

I look forward to talking about joint marketing initiatives, an indie mentoring program, and other issues you might bring to the table – and probably a recap about Equity’s new small-scale theatre policies.

TAPA has created a non-facebook event here, where you can RSVP to let us know you’re coming. If you can’t attend despite your interest in the Caucus, feel free to send an email to and we’ll add you to the list for future meetings and event invitations.

Look forward to seeing you March 6th!

Videofag is located at 187 August Avenue in Toronto.


February 22, 2013, by
1 comment

by Michael Wheeler

Ok, let us be the first one to get all the bad jokes out there: Theatre has gone to the Dogs, Theatre gets put in the Doghouse, Dog Gone it Get me a Ticket – because Dachshund UN is coming to Harbourfront Centre next week. Frequent Praxis collaborator Margaret Evans played a key role in casting.

Looking for other theatre blogs  considering pressing local issues? Umbrella Talks is up and running again with a series of new interviews with theatre artists. Just launched this summer, In The Green Room has also made a splash with multiple writers contributing to the site and a series called Stop, Start, Continue. Of course, don’t forget to check out Theatre Ontario’s Blog, which is a consistently updated resource for theatremakers.

At 6:16:11 PM on April 16 2010, Toronto City Council approved a Billboard Tax. This led directly to the increase in arts funding in 2013.  

At 6:16:11 PM on April 16 2010, Toronto City Council approved a Billboard Tax. This led directly to the increase in arts funding in 2013.

Toronto Arts and Culture got a big boost in this year’s municipal budget, with per capita investment going from $18.30 to $25 over the next four years. The funds were generated by The Billboard Tax, invented and proposed by Beautiful City, which we covered when it was going down at City Hall. Since then, the tax has been appealed all the way to The Supreme Court where the Billboard Lobby’s loss was Toronto’s gain.

In the world of federal arts funding, The Globe and Mail revealed most Canadians think the $30 Million spent promoting the War of 1812 was a waste. Conversely, they were disappointed The Harper Government didn’t spend more time celebrating actually important milestones like anniversaries of Women’s Suffrage and The Charter. No word yet on if there is a correlation between these Canadians and the ones The Toronto Star found had grown weary, “even hostile to”, Economic Action Plan advertisements.

The Montreal Theatre Awards are in the process of being invented. Anglophone theatre companies will have their own annual peer-juried awards, presented under the auspices of the Quebec Drama Federation. Right now they are picking the name of the award, which you can vote on in a Facebook poll.

Finally, in case you missed it, Necessary Angel announced Jennifer Tarver as their new Artistic Director and Factory Theatre announced Nina Lee Aquino and Nigel Shawn Williams as Co-Artistic Directors (no longer interim).

February 21, 2013, by

Before and After

Guest post by Leora Morris

The first time I read Gilbert’s Engaged (a wordy Victorian farce that inspired other wordy playwrights like George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde), it seemed like its success and artistic power hinged entirely on how it used language to throw into question our rituals around courting, marriage, and money.  The second time I read it, I thought “I wonder if we could tell this story without speaking”.   And so, in our silent-film style version (which threatens to end happily several times) we’ve replaced words with a live (original) piano score, a distinct physical language, and title card slides.

KiltsTen lines you won’t hear in our silent-film version of Engaged

The Scots:

“Dinna heed the water in my ee—it will come when I‘m ower glad”

“A gude girl loves her husband wi’ one love and her mither wi’ anither.”

“My hairt is sair at losing my only bairn; but I’m nae fasht wi’ ee.”

The Ladies:

“I love you madly, passionately; I care to live but in your heart, I breathe but for your love; yet, before I actually consent to take the irrevocable step that will place me on the pinnacle of my fondest hopes, you must give me some definite idea of your pecuniary position.”

“Lor, sir, kissing’s nothing; everybody does that.”

“I have come to the conclusion that it my duty to fall in with Cheviot’s views in everything before marriage, and Cheviot’s duty to fall into my views in everything after marriage.”

The Men:

The Bride“I will think out some cunning scheme to lure her into marriage unawares”

“Who is the unsightly scoundrel with whom you have flown—the unpleasant-looking scamp whom you have dared to prefer to me?”

“Why is it that when I love a girl I can think of no other girl but that girl, whereas, when a girl loves me she seems to entertain the same degree of affection for mankind at large?”

“If you would be truly happy in the married state, be sure you have your own way in everything”

 10 Things You Might Be Strangely Reminded of in Engaged


1)    That moment in TETRIS when the bricks start piling up

2)    Today’s Special

3)    The Hamburgler

4)    Mary Poppins

5)    Grade 7 school dances

6)    Richy Rich comic books

7)    PSY

8)    The Importance of Being Earnest

9)    The sounds of Super Mario Bros

10)  Criminal line-up

Theatre Hetaerae’s Engaged is part of the 34th Annual Rhubarb Festival at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre.  Shows are 8pm nightly from Wednesday February 20th to Sunday February 24th.  For tickets: Box Office (416-975-8555) or go to

Directed by Leora Morris

Created and performed by Hume Baugh, Miranda Calderon, David Christo, Colin Doyle, Caitlin Driscoll, Alex Fallis, Sochi Fried, Eleanor Hewlings, Viv Moore, and Andy Trithardt
With Original live music by Scott Christian
and Costumes by Nina Okens


February 13, 2013, by

by Michael Wheeler

I am writing from the privileged vantage-point of someone brought up in a home where talking about feelings and mental health was not stigmatized. (Thanks Mom and Dad.) Still, I can’t help feeling pretty uncomfortable with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag that dominated Canadian Twitter yesterday.

Bell Lets TalkWith endorsements and early tweets from celebs ranging from William Shatner to Strombo, many commentators seem unbothered by the corporate branding of a call-to-action for mental-health discussion. Although the initiative’s being hyped for the 5-cent donation made for every tweet using the hashtag, it is actually part of Bell’s greater commitment to donate $50 million to mental-health causes over the next five years. It is a campaign that lists as partners and resources many frontline mental health organizations.

This laudable charitable donation is getting a lot of leverage in social media. Using the hashtag isn’t the only way to promote the initiative (see sidebar), which is connected to a well-designed interactive campaign page that allows visitors to share compelling facts about mental illness via Facebook and Twitter. It is a high-end social media campaign that seems to be impacting public discourse and pushing mental health to the forefront. This is a good and necessary idea.

My concern stems from the specific and conscious design of this social media campaign to force participants to use the sponsor brand as a call-to-action. Tweeting to #LetsTalk is a useless gesture – you can participate only if you use #BellLetsTalk. Only by citing the name of a corporate telecom giant can you add your voice to this discussion of mental health.

By laying claim to language that is normally crowdsourced by the community and imposing their corporate brand, Bell has co-opted naming rights to an urgent discussion. This is lightning in a bottle for any company. I’m imagining it’s great for one that six days ago, was cited in a scathing report for the CRTC by the Competition Bureau on how uncompetitive practices by Canadian telecoms make the industry a global leader in giving customers a bad deal. These practices contributed to Bell generating $2.6 billion in profits in 2012.

Donations to charities are important. They should be respected, applauded and encouraged. One assumes that there will also be significant tax benefits associated with donating $10 million a year to mental-health charities. The ethical lines become blurred when this giving can then be leveraged a second time as defacto naming rights to a conversation around a cause.

Naming rights are a big deal. They are valuable and are usually negotiated vigorously. (Or not in the case of BMO Nuit Blanche.) Defining discussion around mental health through activities that force public endorsement of recent corporate donors is problematic. By creating a system that requires sharing the Bell brand on Facebook or using their branded hashtag on Twitter, the campaign crosses a line.

With #BellLetsTalk, Bell is crowdsurfing us, asking us under the patronage of their brand to share brave and vulnerable stories with our personal networks. These thousands of personally charged endorsements are the type of exposure that cannot be bought through a traditional ad buy, as thousands incorporate the Bell brand into personal, meaningful acts of sharing. Throw in the sub-phrase “Lets Talk” also relates to the services and products Bell provides at some of the most expensive rates on Earth – and we have a winner from the kids down the hall in marketing.

It’s important to resist this redefinition of language and space for conversation. Double-dipping as both charitable good work and for-profit viral marketing gives both concepts a bad name. Probably the only way to stop this kind of corporate encroachment into personal issues and public spaces is for online communities to respond. In this case, I hope #LetsTalk (sans the Bell brand) takes off as an alternative hashtag to discuss mental health issues online. The only thing enforcing the old hashtag is our own acquiescence to corporate branding of our personal stories.

February 8, 2013, by


“They are lonely. I’m not talking about lonely for a lover or a friend. I mean lonely in the universal sense, lonely inside the understanding that we are tiny people on a tiny little earth suspended in an endless void that echoes past stars and stars of stars.”

― Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality


Parting Roads


Guy DoucetteGuy Doucette is an artistic director, actor and singer-songwriter. His joy is to bring people together in celebration of arts and culture!

The Theatre Lab and Back Burner Productions are proud to present our upcoming collaborative production  JACKIE AND JACK. Written by legendary Canadian polymath Jim Christy, it is a ‘What If’ play that follows the meeting of two of North Americas’ most tragic figures. Jack Kerouac and Jackie Kennedy. The play is an examination of an encounter the two may have had on a beach in Hyanis, Northport – 1959, at a period of time when both of their lives are changing irrevocably.

February 22nd to March 2nd |Unit 102 Theatre | 376 Dufferin Street (just south of Queen St. W) Tickets: $15 advance (through T.O.tix) | $20 at-the-door | Sunday Matinee PWYC

February 5, 2013, by

We collected more that 100 suggestions for debate topics at The Next Stage Festival in January

We collected more that 100 suggestions for debate topics at The Next Stage Festival in January

After receiving over 100 suggestions for debate topics as well as a slew of suggestions for debaters through our interactive installation at The Next Stage Festival, Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre have distilled three resolutions to be tackled at the first three Civil Debates.

Each of these topics were suggested multiple times through the installation, have already received significant online debate, and have the potential to create reasonable arguments for and against the resolution:

March 7, 2013

March 15, 2013

#1: Creative Cities

Be it resolved that the Creative Cities theories serve to reinforce dominant class structures.

April 4, 2013

April 1, 2013

#2: Arts Boards

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

May 2, 2013   

Date TBD

#3: Idle No More

Be it resolved that the issues that created the Idle No More movement require extreme methods to achieve change.

2013-01-13 21.53.27de·bate, noun. /dɪˈbeɪt/

— a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.

ci·vil, adj. /ˈsɪv(ə)l, -ɪl/

— relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns.

— courteous and polite.

Oxford Dictionary

Civil Debates will take place on the first Thursday of each month, starting March 7th at The Theatre Centre Pop-Up. The speakers for each debate will be announced in advance on and If you would like to debate a particular topic, email with why in less than 100 words. If selected, debaters are paid a $50 honorarium.

Live tweetcasts will be available for each debate, along with blog posts and social media sharing to facilitate further discussion.  Civil Debates use the Canadian parliamentary debate model:  2 speakers on each side, strict time allotments, moderated exchange and conclude with a vote Yay or Nay. Audience members will be given the opportunity to participate, but it is not required

Collecting Debate Topics

Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre present
First Thursday of the month: March 7, April 4, May 2, 2013. Doors at 7pm; debates at 7.30pm
The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West
Admission: PWYC