Frequent Praxis Theatre and Theatre Centre collaborator Laura Nanni is working with The Banff Centre to host a live screening of Civil Debates 4 – Climate Change.
We’re thrilled to expand the reach of the conversation across the country. Civil Debates will be working with Laura to ensure a few of the tweets that come in from Banff will be included in the “Questions from the Floor” section of the debate.
Monday December 14, 730PM EST / 530PM MST
Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building @ The Banff Centre, Room 204
A carbon-based economy is destroying life on the planet. Therefore:
Be It Resolved That it is unethical for arts organizations to accept funds from corporations causing this destruction and these revenue sources should be phased out.
Side A1 10 minutes
Side B1 10 minutes
Side A2 10 minutes
Side B2 13 minutes
Side A1 3 minutes
Questions from Floor: 25 Minutes
Following the debate, the floor will be opened to 2-minute comments or questions from the floor. If a question is directed at a debater, that person will have 2 minutes to answer. This will last 25 minutes maximum.
Attendees will be asked to register their opinion on their way in and out by secret ballot – to see if the debate shifted informed thought.
As always, and as the name implies, these debates will be civil and we invite apply your friendly intellect to a rigorous discussion of complex ideas.
Why We Started Civil Debates
Co-produced by Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre, Civil Debates was originally launched in 2013 as an opportunity to extend the online community Praxis Theatre had developed over the years via praxistheatre.com. Within a face-to-face setting, we worked to bring those conversations into a physical space. We were enthused and encouraged by the intelligent and civil discourse that had developed online, particularly in the comments of posts about hot button issues.
We began to think that – as theatre companies – we should be doing this live in a space with human bodies.
And so, building on the success of our three previous debates on Creative Cities, Arts Boards and Idle No More – Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre’s Civil Debates returns at conclusion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris with a debate on the ethics of receiving arts funding from drivers of climate change.
Left to Right: Aislinn Rose, Praxis Artistic Producer and Bunker Producer; Michael Wheeler, Praxis Artistic Director; Carly Chamberlain & Tanya Rintoul, NTS Directing Students.
This week we have been studying Social Design for directors at The National Theatre School. Social media as a tool for discussion eventually (immediately) brought us to the ongoing controversy surrounding when critics are invited to Opening Night at Factory Theatre. We asked Aislinn to have a google chat with us about it as she is the producer of the first show in the Factory Theatre season: The Art of Building a Bunker.
Ok so i got my invite to
The Art of Building a Bunker Opening today
How did you pick the guest list?
Well, it was a collective effort, given that this production is a partnership between Factory and Quiptake.
Essentially, we each created a list and then mashed them together. (Lots of duplicates of course.)
On our list, I specifically wanted to invite people who had spoken publicly about the SummerWorks productions, even if it was “I still don’t know how I feel about this show”.
Carly, Tanya and I have been talking about Social Design all week.
The controversy over who got to come (or more accurately is invited) to opening ended up being part of what we talked about
Due to it starting on social media
I hadn’t noticed.
At least some people are laughing about it. Phew.
i was curious about the thought process you had before entering into that HUGE Twitter discussion. Did you imagine it turning into such a big discussion, or were you just simply responding how you felt in the moment?
Ah, yes, to respond or not to respond. (I actually had to walk away from my desk today rather than comment on something.)
I saw what I thought was an unfair comment about something (and a comment I found rather flippant, about a decision that wasn’t made flippantly) and so I decided to respond. I certainly didn’t think it would become my next five days.
That actually leads into what we’ve been curious about, which is why/how/when the original decision was made.
There was a great meeting of representatives of all the companies who are part of the Factory season (except Ronnie, who’s on tour). It was an opportunity for all of us to get together, introduce ourselves, hear a little about what they had in mind for the next several months, and also pick our brains. Essentially we were in a room to say “we are the Factory season”. I thought it was a great idea.
At that meeting, the idea of a “new” kind of opening night was introduced. Nina said she was interested in changing what opening were about and who they were for.
It came down to wanting opening nights to be a great fucking night for the artists, and (as I put it) an opportunity for Adam, in the case of Bunker, to stand in front of an audience of peers, of fellow artists, of friends, family, people he admires, etc. to say “this is my show, I wanted to share it with you first”. It wasn’t going to be about impressing the critics you know are all sitting there with press kits on their laps.
And, you know, we’ve ALL heard critics complain that openings aren’t great opportunities to feel the real show anyway, because of the audience being stacked with friends.
i prefer press kits to be a USB now.
(You know I do too Mike. Or a link even.)
We didn’t think it would be a big deal.
Sorry…but…is that really what the artists felt like those nights were? My impression from my own experience has always been that openings were a big industry love fest night
Sure, there’s the love fest… but there’s always also been the stress of who’s out there.
There’s a reason many actors don’t want to be told when press are in the audience.
Here’s where I struggle with this and it has already been discussed a bit – separating critics from community
I mean i get it – the first rule of praxistheatre.com was no reviews
and it is a good rule Mike
so i understand how a critical voice changes a dynamic
But lets take Nestruck for example
He was a critic at McGill when i was an undergrad
He was a crtic at Fringe in my 20s
Now he’s a critic in our professional theatre
I can’t really imagine him as not part of the community,
(even when he torches one of our shows)
He IS a part of the community. But I see the community a venn diagram.
So while he a part of the community, he is also apart from the community, and necessarily so.
Right, but why make it about the exclusion of critics rather than making a separate community celebration if that is the goal?
I thought that’s what we did… but we didn’t call it community night.
We called it our opening.
And then Media Night was created, to coincide with subscriber night, to give critics the opportunity to see the work with a regular ticket-buying audience.
And part of the reason it was scheduled for a Tuesday was that it was thought Tuesday would be a great night to be able to get the press there together (because Tuesday isn’t such a busy night).
I also wouldn’t use the term “exclusion” of the critics.
It is really great to hear (read) this with such clarity, the press release and other media surrounding this topic have not come across so reasonably.
Hurray for clarity! (And thanks.)
I argue with the exclusion part though. Not inviting someone to any event is excluding them from the event
Well, some parties are family reunions, and some parties aren’t.
There was the notion of wanting to slightly delay the entry of the “official” critical voices into the conversations happening around the show.
this is a bad metphor
its an ecology not a family
we dont have to like eachother but we all have roles to fill
what kind of conversation do you imagine happening by adding this delay?
I want to point out the fact that Kelly himself has accused other critics/bloggers of becoming “too embedded” when they’ve disagreed with him on this issue.
@KarenFricker2 Timeliness, independence, relevance… You’ve embedded too far, Karen. How could this possibly be beneficial to our readers?
So he, too, seems to understand that he’s part of the community… but that he can’t become too embedded.
Okay, back to the conversations…
We talked about how – sometimes – public conversations can become limited once the voice of “authority” enters the picture. And, as I’ve mentioned to people online, I don’t use the word “authority” because it’s accurate, but because that’s sometimes how it is perceived: that mainstream media (MSM) are the voice of authority.
This situation alone has shown me again that people are reluctant to join a public conversation if it goes against something the critics are talking about.
But in what forum would these conversations be taking place? (I’m on board with the idea of this “voice of authory”, but without providing a space for people to discuss, I’m skeptical about what critical discourse is going to happen on twitter…etc)
Yes and Holger Syme has already pointed this out, but the conversation on social media about shows sucks. without the critics it’s a bunch of selfies and GREAT SHOW GUYS!
So while we want the contribution of critics at the table, we were hoping their voices could be added to an already engaged discussion.
There are a number of platforms that we’re looking at (all of which would be of interest to people studying social design).
and who is starting the conversation?
So we’re trying to find spaces online and off, where people can comment, questions, argue with the show. We’re going to try to move as much of the conversation to the interwebs as possible through twitter and a message board, but we also want to find ways to communicate with people who don’t want to use those platforms, or who want to engage anonymously.
Yes… twitter is a challenge specifically because of the limited number of characters.
However, it also offers that awesome tool of the hashtag to create much longer conversations with many more characters.
i am worried about the anonymous option, but still interesting
i showed these guys the open source feedback i did with Tara Beagan after she enjoyed and did not parts of Rifles.
So, as a super basic thing, we want to share our hashtags in as many places as possible, and teach people how to use them. It will help us track down the comments that are being made publicly, and help us draw out further responses, whether it’s through asking questions, probing for more detailed comments, etc.
Mike… wasn’t #cdncult part of the homework?
what’s a hashtag?
we were just told to read Charlotte’s Web
If I think back on the SummerWorks production, people were posting great feedback all over facebook and twitter, and I collected as many of those responses as possible. What I would want to do now, with this opportunity, is go back to those commenters and try to draw out more information.
but was anyone tweeting negative things? I think regardless of critics people are unlikely to post their negative opinions…unless they were truly incensed by something
and would you talk to those people?
But I also want there to be a physical space in the theatre itself where people can “post”… so we’re looking for an actual wall… leave the creators a question, tell them you think they’re racist, tell them what you didn’t understand, etc.
I would love to talk to the people who hate the show. And I did at the time.. or maybe not “hated” it, but were worried about it.
In fact, I can think of someone in particular who would be a great person to curate a response from. (Though, if you ask Holger, he says theatre companies have no business curating responses.)
Would you have gone about this differently in retrospect – or is the controversy just an essential part of making big changes?
Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m feeling unsettled (and actually sent a facebook message to my favourite tv critic who came out against what Factory was doing because I wanted him to understand my position).
I don’t have ANY regrets about the decision to do this. And I don’t think any of us expected the response we received, and certainly none of us expected the kind of inflammatory language that has been used by some of the media.
However. I think, in retrospect, we might have communicated it differently to the press. But I want to be clear: it’s not about asking permission. Permission isn’t needed. But it would be about contacting them to say, “this is what we’re doing and why. We’re trying it with this show, and if it helps us build greater conversations than we’ve seen in the past, we’ll consider trying it with the rest of the shows”.
I’ll say this: I’m a little broken-hearted that Adam isn’t getting the opening night I imagined for him. But it doesn’t matter… he’ll kill it.
Yes he will. As I already tweeted “ADLaz Born Ready”
This April the four #HatchTO 2014 residencies at Harbourfront Centre will begin, taking over their Studio Theatre. Over the course of the next three months, all four #HatchTO projects will take over this digital space with their experiments.
Posts will be in all forms and sizes through writing, video, images and embedded social media tools. Starting next week, to see what each company has been up to, click their project images in the sidebar on the right to see the most recent posts by each one.
This is a big change to how praxistheatre.com has operated previously. We hope for the next few months this will make praxistheatre.com a place where people interested in how social media-integrated experiments can evolve, and will continue to check-in to see how things are developing.
When April arrives, and each residency is in-house at The Studio Theatre, this site will become a platform where various live-tweeting and other integrations as-will-be-necessary can be found.
Hon James Moore being sworn in as new Minister of Industry. The Globe and Mail reported Ministers with new portfolios were given ‘enemy lists’ during this federal cabinet shuffle.
Saturday morning I woke up to discover the Federal Minister of Industry, James Moore, took to Twitter to respond to one of my tweets, which he deemed “false”.
It started with his tweet below, which I never saw, because I “have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user”.
I remember this “blocking” occurred roughly a year-and-a-half ago during The Freefall Festival. I was debating the merits of Conservative cultural policy on Twitter with Moore during Jonathan Goldsbie’s Enchanted Streetcar Ride. Soon after I mentioned that our hashtag #route501 was trending above the Ontario provincial budget, Moore proceeded to block me.
Anyhow, the narrative begins with this tweet:
Heavens. I sure hope not…. Thank you NDP for the enlightening mail out. “Hope is better than fear”… Indeed pic.twitter.com/8ZfzilcCun
As if hope was the exclusive providence of mindless platitudes…. But this is a story about specific facts, so I will refrain from commenting further. Because I am blocked from seeing tweets by Minister Moore, it came to my attention when it was quoted by Kelly Nestruck, Theatre Critic for The Globe and Mail (who has not blocked me, yet).
When I saw this, what didn’t come to mind was grammar or Layton. What occurred to me was that Moore’s tweet was extremely rich. As a Cabinet Minister his staff would have been responsible for putting together one ‘Enemies List’ for incoming Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, and he would have received a second list to be brought up to speed on the “enemy” situation from the people that brought you Industry Minister Christian Paradis.
So given that Moore was involved with not one, but two sets of enemy lists during the cabinet shuffle several months ago, I tweeted this:
@nestruck@JamesMoore_org Haha funny except he really did have binder of arts enemies & pass it on to predecessor & this is well documented.
There followed a brief conversation between Nestruck, playwright Sean Dixon and myself about whether the NDP used apostrophes properly in their mailings. Went to bed early enough to avoid The Raptors embarrassing themselves, and woke up to this tweet:
Is The Honourable James Moore calling Conservative MP Peter Kent “mindless”?
On July 24, 2013. The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt reported over 200 civic-society groups, including Amnesty International Canada and Oxfam Canada, had asked for access to enemy lists, but were being stonewalled by the Harper Government:
Is The Honourable James Moore calling Amnesty International “childish”?
Franke James discovered through FOI requests proof she had been placed on an ‘enemy list’ that caused govt officials to interfere with her work because she created art about The Tar Sands.
I am asking these questions non-rhetorically, because for Moore’s tweet to be truthful, then the answer to each must be “yes”.
So we are left with two versions of the truth:
A massive conspiracy involving The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, a broad spectrum of civic society, and even a member of Moore’s own caucus, which has colluded to make us falsely believe Cabinet Ministers in The Harper Government created and received ‘enemy lists’ during the last Cabinet shuffle.
Harper Cabinet Ministers and their offices made and received ‘enemy lists’ as requested by PMO.
Perhaps the Minister mis-tweeted and this was just a Fordian slip? Getting a bit tedious being asked to believe in the absurd as plausible these days.
Tommy and I (left) on our way to Parliament to check out Question Period on Monday Nov 18. Photo Aislinn Rose
by Michael Wheeler
At every stop along the #G20Romp tour we have provided the same context to our participant detainees – the almost 300 Canadians from across the country who have participated in telling the story of what happened to people at G2o Toronto in 2010. We said, “Hopefully, if enough people do it and we gain enough momentum, when we conclude the tour in Ottawa Members of Parliament will also do what you are doing, and stand up for civil rights by playing detainees in the detention centre.”
Meanwhile, everyone we were talking to in Ottawa was telling us the same thing: This is possible, but there’s no way to know until the day of the performance. MPs have crazy, ever-changing schedules, and when Parliament is in session there’s no way to know when there will be a snap vote or debate to attend.
So there had been a big red circle around Wednesday November 20th in our calendar for a long time: the day we would find out whether or not we were nuts, lucky, or both.
The day went down like this:
Tommy Taylor goes on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. Makes a pitch for MPs to join us onstage. Listen to his interview here.
News breaks that the RCMP believe Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff Nigel wright committed bribery and fraud in connection with the ongoing Senate Scandal. Total radio silence from #cdnpoli journalists we had been connecting with as the biggest Parliamentary story of the year is breaking. Uh oh.
The whole #G20Romp team meets up at a coffee shop before heading off to a reception for the production on Parliament Hill organized by The Honourable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport.
Every MP, from every party, received 2 email invitations and 1 colour paper invitation to the reception. Still not clear if anyone will attend.
The reception for You Should Have Stayed Home takes place on Parliament Hill in Room 601, Centre Block. A number of Members of Parliament, media and Parliamentary staffers attend:
MP Niki Ashton and Praxis Artistic Producer Aislinn Rose
House Leader of The Official Opposition MP Nathan Cullen, Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor and MP Andrew Cash
(l-r) Parliamentary Assistant & Playwright Darrah Teitel, MP Andrew Cash, Tommy Taylor, Michael Wheeler, Aislinn Rose, Rebecca Vandevelde, Scott Dermody, Parliamentary Assistant Jason Keays, MP Niki Ashton, MP Mike Sullivan
(l-r) MP Peggy Nash, Tommy Taylor, MP Libby Davies, Michael Wheeler, Aislinn Rose
The reception goes great. Many MPs tell us they wish they could join us in the cage, but have prior commitments, not the least of which is a debate occurring at 9:30pm that night on sending aid to The Philippines. D’oh, that’s about the same time You Should Have Stayed Home will be ending onstage…. Nobody panics, Peggy Nash and Andrew Cash tell us they’ll see us at the theatre tonight. We say great and ask no questions about how that will work with their Parliamentary schedules.
On our way out, the whole #G20Romp team meets MP Pat Martin. I deeply regret not telling him that he is missed on Twitter.
The team regroups for some sub-par french fries at a sub-standard pub. We discuss the surreal quality of the day so far, and review options that will allow MPs to be in the show and make it back to Parliament for 9:30pm.
Rehearsal. 17 detainees arrive to learn the scene, including our 2 MPs. Andrew Cash live-tweets some of the rehearsal:
At this point, the issue of timing and schedules needs to be addressed. We devise a plan where after the scene is performed, MPs will exit the stage to the dressing rooms where they will have preset their belongings. This will allow them to see most of the show, perform in it, and still make it out of the theatre in time to return to Parliament for the debate.
An amazing performance by Tommy Taylor to a packed Arts Court theatre on opening night. Here’s what the thing we always wanted to do looks like from the booth. MPs on stage in the cage:
I once titled this photo, “This is what democracy looks like”. I wasn’t wrong, but this is what it looks like too.
Several people have already asked me, “So was this just an NDP thing or what?” No. Not strictly speaking, although certainly the party most associated with social justice was the one that hosted us on the hill and performed in the show, and they deserve mad props for that.
A quantitative analysis of MP tweets and RTs to the #G20Romp hashtag would also reveal Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett as another huge supporter of our endeavours. Unfortunately, she let us know she was on a flight the night of our show. We also heard back from Green Party MP Elizabeth May, who sent her regrets from a climate change conference in Warsaw. So definitely the NDP came through for Praxis big-time – but on another day, in different circumstances, a multi-partisan cage might have been possible. We did not receive any expressions of interest from any of the Conservative MPs, all of whom were invited.
The entire #G20Romp team is pretty inspired by the participation of the Honourable Members of Parliament and we all went to bed very late, not really believing we actually pulled it off.
The CCLA has messaged members through email and social media encouraging participation in staging the play, and has partnered with us to create panel discussions on broader issues facing civil liberties in several of the cities we are travelling to.
The first of these panels will take place in Vancouver at The Firehall Arts Centre after the October 3rd 8pm performance.
Praxis will be livetweeting the discussion via the #G20Romp Hashtag: Civil Liberties, Activism and Surveillance:
Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics.
She is a regular guest instructor for UBC’s College of Health Disciplines Interdisciplinary Elective in HIV/AIDS Care and was honoured as a recipient of the 2010 AccolAIDS award for social and political advocacy benefitting communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech. She is an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International. bccla.org
Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. She has been active in grassroots social movements for over a decade, including with No One Is Illegal, Women’s Memorial March Committee for Missing and Murdered Women, Radical Desis and more.
She was one of the many leading up to both the Anti-Olympics Convergence and the G20 Protests in 2010, facing arrests and trumped charges at both. Harsha has been named one of the most influential South Asians in BC by the Vancouver Sun and Naomi Klein has called Harsha “one of Canada’s most brilliant and effective political organizers.” Her first book Undoing Border Imperialism is forthcoming in November 2013 by AK Press. Find her @HarshaWalia.
Greg McMullen is a litigation associate with Branch MacMaster. He focuses on class action work concerning privacy and access to information. Greg was one of the organizers of the BCCLA’s Legal Observer Program during the 2010 Winter Olympics, which trained more than 400 citizen-observers to record police interactions with the public (and especially with protesters) during the 2010 Games..
Tommy Taylor is a theatre artist, activist and NGO fundraiser living in Toronto. Recently Tommy was assistant director/video designer on The Belle of Winnipeg (Dora Winner), adaptor/director of Dear Everybody at the CanStage Festival of Ideas and Creation and director of Kayak at The SummerWorks Festival. He is a graduate of the Centre for Cultural Management (University of Waterloo/ CCCO), The Vancouver Film School and Humber College’s Community Arts Development Program.
Tommy was arrested (but never charged) and detained during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. He has since turned his account of the experience into You Should Have Stayed Home. The show is on a cross-Canada tour for Fall 2013, playing in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Tangentially, a conversation came up at the debate connected to an ongoing discussion in this space: performance and memory.
Mr. Coyne conceded there was probably some role for the state to play in archiving and preserving great works, noting that mark of a great writer is their words survive themselves and their era.
As theatre artists, we can’t aspire for our work to be preserved in the same way. You were either there, or you weren’t, and you missed it. Gone forever. We can archive notes, programs, props – even scripts – but the work itself cannot be preserved (as Holger Syme also notes in his post to makes a different point) in a way that it can be reproduced .
This is neither here nor there with regards to the substance of the debate, but it reminds me that part of what makes live performance distinct is it is ephemeral and I am cool with that.
“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.”