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

Category: #G20Romp

November 17, 2013, by

On Monday Dec 18 all 308 MPs will receive this invitation.

On Monday Dec 18 all 308 Members of Parliament will receive this invitation. CLICK TO ENLARGE

After 34 acclaimed performances of You Should Have Stayed Home in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, we conclude our tour in Ottawa on November 20th. It is our hope some of our nation’s elected representatives will join us onstage on opening night.

The production will have a reception on Parliament Hill, the same day as this performance. We are extremely grateful to The Honourable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport, for organizing this event where MPs of all stripes can meet us and discuss the opportunity.

Reception for You Should Have Stayed Home on Parliament Hill

3pm-4pm Wednesday November 20th, 2013.

Centre Block: Room 601

Winner of The SummerWorks Arts Professional Award

Reviews: NOW MagazineGeorgia Straight 

Hundreds of Canadians have already stood up for civil liberties in a safe and creative way by participating in a short scene in the middle of the show. Before each performance we’ve led a discussion about Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how it’s been significantly weakened by G20 Toronto — a period Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin called, “The most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.

We hope Members of Parliament will be inspired by this level of engagement by  ordinary citizens across Canada, and also stand up for civil liberties.

We have already confirmed participation by a few MPs, and we’re hoping for more. We’re encouraging MPs from all political parties to join us. Civil liberties are not a partisan issue. Everyone from libertarians, to socialists, to all of those in between, can find rare common ground on this subject. This important consensus can be communicated theatrically.

If you are an MP:

Please get in touch by email:

If you are not an MP, but live in Ottawa and would like to join us onstage:

Please get in touch by email:

If you are not an MP, but you would like to see your MP participate:

Please send them this post. If you tweet to them, be sure to use #G20Romp. Also, be sure to be nice.

Consider sharing this post on Facebook or whatever other social network you use.

Only through real momentum will we fully realize this goal.  We are so darn close and we need your help.

October 21, 2013, by

Praxis continues its partnership with The Canadian Civil Liberties Association to use our play as an access point to contribute to the broader discourse surrounding civil liberties in Canada.

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 a number of the cities we are travelling to.

This Tuesday, following the 8pm performance of #G20Romp, we will continue the discussion about G20 Toronto with a discussion of many of the issues the play raises. Years after the largest mass arrest in Canadian history there are many unanswered questions, developments, and non-developments with regards to police actions at the Summit.

Last week, CCLA published: “Take back the streets”: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world. We look forward to a robust discussion of the issues facing protest and dissent.

Edited Logo with text

Click here to buy tickets.

Click here to buy tickets.

Civil liberties and protest in post-G20 Toronto

Aki Studio Theatre @ Daniels Spectrum – 585 Dundas Street East.

Tuesday October 22nd: Show @ 8pm  panel @ 9:30pm.

@PraxisTheatre will be livetweeting the discussion on Twitter via #G20Romp

Moderated by: 

Praxis Theatre Artistic Director Michael Wheeler


Abby Deshman – CCLA: Director, Public Safety Program


Abby graduated from University of Toronto faculty of law in 2008 and has an LLM from New York University law school. She has been a program director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for four years, and is currently the director of the public safety program. Her program area touches on all aspects of CCLA’s work on criminal justice, police powers, police accountability and privacy.

Leading up to the G20 she coordinated CCLA’s advocacy efforts on policing and protest, and during the meetings she led a team of independent observers monitoring police conduct. She interacts regularly with police forces across the country on issues of protest and policing and oversees the CCLA’s involvement in the struggle for post-G20 accountability.

On Tuesday, she will begin the day by heading up to OPP Police College to give a lecture to new Public Order Unit Commanders on protest rights.

Jan Borowy – Cavalluzzo

Jan BorowyJan Borowy’s practice areas include labour relations, human rights, pay equity and professional regulation. Jan brings to her practice a longstanding commitment to the promotion of workers’ rights and human rights. Her experience gives her an understanding of the importance of a clear strategy in union negotiations, campaigns, strikes, organizing and educational programs.

Jan is the former Research Co-ordinator at the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, where her work focused on a campaign for fair wages and working conditions for garment home-workers. She further developed her advocacy skills as the Worker’s Rights Community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services. At law school, Jan developed an expertise in Aboriginal law and issues facing Aboriginal workers.

Jan’s experience within the firm has included close involvement in the representation of private sector and public sector workers before labour arbitrators, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, the Pay Equity Tribunal and the Ontario and Canadian Labour boards. Jan is a member of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations.


Tommy Taylor – Writer/Performer: You Should Have Stayed Home

Tommy 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.

October 18, 2013, by

Tommy Taylor interviewed about You Should Have Stayed Home: A #G20Romp on The Rush

Click here to buy tickets.

Click here to buy tickets.

*50% of tickets for 2pm shows are reserved for Pay What You Can at the door.

Toronto, Ontario: Aki Theatre, 585 Dundas St. E. Phone: 416 531 1402:

Thu October 17, 2013 @ 8pm (Preview); Fri October 18, 2013 @ 8pm (Opening); Sat October 19, 2013 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun October 20, 2013 @ 2pm;

Tue October 22, 2013 @ 8pm; Wed October 23, 2013 @ 8pm; Thu October 24, 2013 @ 8pm; Fri October 25, 2013 @ 8pm; Sat October 26, 2013 @ 2pm & 8pm

October 16, 2013, by

I've created some G20 Postcards with images dropped in from Toronto's G20 on pictures of beautiful Brisbane.

I’ve created some special G20 Postcards with images from Toronto’s G20 Summit dropped into pictures of you, beautiful Brisbane. Although, looks like you’re well on your way to creating your own memories.

Hey Brisbane. So I heard the news that you are getting your own G20 Summit Meeting next November. Well, I had the G20 come to my home, Toronto, back in 2010 so I thought I’d give my fellow Commonwealthers a heads up. Particularly when I hear Queensland premier Campbell Newman say “What we don’t want is the scenes that have blighted other cities such as Toronto…” Which is a statement I agree with, but then why is he planning the Brisbane G20 in the exact same way? (I should mention now that I was unlawfully arrested, never charged, in a mass arrest during the Toronto G20).

The debate is already on about the Queensland Government’s proposed G20 Safety and Security Bill (and it won’t just affect Brisbane’s horde of Zombies). Here are some facts on how the security plans in play for you, Brisbane, worked out for us in Toronto.

(SPOILER ALERT: It ends up being “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.”)

1. Expanded Police Powers

Under the new security bill, security forces (made up of police forces from across the Commonwealth, including New Zealand and Canada) will have expanded powers during the Summit. Inside the G20 Exclusion Zone, officers can arbitrarily perform pat-downs or strip searches on anyone, hold suspected agitators in detention for the duration of the summit, ban common items such as eggs, cans and hand tools. Police will also be allowed to publish the names and photographs of anyone they decide should be prohibited from entering The Zone.

In Toronto we had many similar laws in play, including a much-scorned secret law passed without proper notice. The results? Well, as the official investigation into policing at the Toronto G20 Summit found, it was goddamn terrible. Not so much because of the vandalism to cars and windows by 75-100 people (who the police were ordered not to engage with for some reason), but because of what happened to people.

With 20,000 militarized police officers in downtown Toronto there were multiple cases of excessive force used by police resulting in serious injury, and over 1,100 people arrested in Canada’s largest mass arrest (over 900 were never charged). Hundreds of people were unlawfully kettled in by riot officers, sometimes for hours in the pouring rain and many more were subjected to arbitrary stop and searches by officers. There were 334 strip searches (but only proper documentation on 281 cases). Many of the the “weapons” seized by police had nothing to do with G20 (including toys belonging to a fantasy role-player). By all measures, an utter mess.


2. Three Day Detention

Part of the bill would allow police to arrest and detain anyone they deem a threat for three days. In jail. Without bail. Items that could deem you a threat? Eggs, cans of beans, model airplanes, surfboards, and reptiles. Yes, reptiles. Some folks right there in Queensland are already trying to give you a heads up on this one. They note that innocent people will likely be arrested and Brisbane actually doesn’t have enough room to house large numbers of detainees.

Here in Toronto, similar tactics got us 1,100 people arrested and sent to a temporary detention centre built inside a movie studio. Protesters, bystanders, tourists, journalists and even a transit worker were swept up in the mass arrests. Most were held in atrocious conditions and Queer prisoners were segregated into their own cells. This stands as one of the most vile failures of the police during the Toronto G20 for a number of reasons.

3. “It’s Great for the Local Economy!”

There seems to be an ongoing campaign foretelling of the riches G20 will be bring to Brisbane. Many Brisbane shop owners are starting to grow concerned however about the shut-down and elimination of consumer foot traffic.

The cost of the Toronto G20 Summit ballooned to a ludicrous 1.1billion, a huge chunk of it being the security budget. Local Toronto businesses reported record losses and had to fight the Federal Government tooth-and-nail for partial compensation for damages and revenue lost. It was, however, a huge payday for the police who also held onto many of their new toys and surveillance cameras.


4. Aftermath

After millions of dollars and years of investigations, here is what I can tell you: Everything that is being planned for you, Brisbane, has brought misery to every city before you: London, Pittsburgh, Toronto.

Finding accountability and justice over the past 3 years for policing crimes at the Toronto G20 Summit has been a demented joke. From our Mayor rolling over, to only ONE officer being handed a criminal conviction, it’s been a farce.

Right now I’m on a cross-country tour of Canada, sharing my G20 story with my fellow Canadians. On the first stop of the tour, way up in the Yukon Territory, I read about what’s being being cooked up for you Brisbane, and felt I had to share these facts with you.

However, you may want to hear more from Queensland Council for Civil Liberties President Michael Cope, who had this to say about policing powers in Toronto for the G20: “According to the systemic review report they had the power to in effect remove anybody and search anybody without any suspicion whatsoever unlike this legislation, so they had extraordinary powers, which didn’t stop this.”

Good people of Brisbane, one final time – heads up.

October 14, 2013, by

Culture Vulture’ David C. Jones joined the show in Vancouver and talked to Tommy Taylor about the experience.

Hey Toronto,

Read an interview with J. Kelly Nestruck and Director Michael Wheeler

Click to read J. Kelly Nestruck’s interview with Director Michael Wheeler

We want you to be in our play. Every performance of You Should Have Stayed Home requires a cast to join Tommy Taylor onstage for 12 minutes when the narrative arrives at The Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

We have done this scene in many ways with over 150 participants total in Toronto (SummerWorks 2011), Whitehorse  and Vancouver. The number of participants has varied from 15 – 40 over the course of these three runs. The scene always works, but emphasizes different elements depending on who and how many people participate on a given day.

We have had old cages, young young cages, mostly female, mostly male, sometimes packed, sometimes with enough room for each participant to sculpt their positions more precisely.

Each show happens with the people from the community it performs in who have chosen to participate on a given day. It is the social justice-influenced performative chaos theory that keeps our one-man show distinctly different and alive every night. We want you to join it.

How to participate in the show:

Click to read Glenn Sumi's interview with Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor

Click to read Glenn Sumi’s interview with Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor

To join the production, send an email to

Let us know when you are available and would like to be part of the show. Do one show or do every show. People who do more than one show get a ticket to the show. People who do more than five get two tickets. The show runs from Oct 17-26.

Daily Rehearsals: Every time there is a show there is a ‘detainee’ rehearsal one hour before – 1pm for 2pm performances and 7pm for 8pm performances. At these rehearsals we’ll walk you through the 6 things you have to do – no acting experience required. Basically you have to be yourself if you had been swept up in a mass arrest: stand, sit, yell for water and play a volleyball type game. We have done this 25 times now. There is a safe, clear, fun system in place.

Want to see the show first? All detainee performers are welcome/encouraged to attend our dress rehearsal at The Aki Theatre on Wednesday October 16 from 7pm – 10pm. You can see the production and also learn what you have to do all in one 3-hour session.

Why participate? Every person who performs in the play is another voice that has stood up for basic Charter Rights that are in jeopardy in Canada. We think this matters, and hope you will too.

Click to read the review of You Should Have Stayed Home by Colin Thomas

Click to read the review of You Should Have Stayed Home by Colin Thomas

September 27, 2013, by

Watch the above video to hear from CCLA’s Abby Deshman Director, Public Safety Program on G20 Toronto, policing at protests and You Should Have Stayed Home.

Praxis Theatre is thrilled and honoured to be partnering with The Canadian Civil Liberties Association throughout our National Tour of You Should Have Stayed Home, written and performed by Tommy Taylor.

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: Edited Logo with text Civil Liberties, Activism and Surveillance:

Moderated by: Neworld Theatre Founding Artistic Producer Camyar Chai

About the Panelists

Micheal-Vonn-colourMicheal 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.

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 McMullenGreg 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..

He is also on the Board of Directors of the BC Civil Liberties Association, and authored the BCCLA’s Electronic Devices Privacy Handbook.

IMG_2014Tommy 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.

September 18, 2013, by

The #G20Romp team in Carcross Desert - the smallest desert in the world, Yukon

The #G20Romp team in Carcross Desert – the smallest desert in the world, Yukon

by Aislinn Rose

We’ve just arrived in Vancouver from Whitehorse, after an incredible week touring our #G20Romp, You Should Have Stayed Home, to The Yukon.

I have to admit we were all a bit nervous about whether we would find enough detainees from the Whitehorse population to join Tommy in his cage during a pivotal scene in the show. I’m happy to report we had am amazing turnout of over 50 participants over the course of 4 shows, many of whom participated in several, or even all of our performances at The Yukon Arts Centre. With daily rehearsals before each performance, we were able to incorporate new participants for each show, including audience members who felt compelled to take part after hearing Tommy’s story.

Many thanks to the participants of Whitehorse:

Kim Hawkins, Josh Regnier, Zoe Verhees. Liza, Donald Watt, Lianne Maitland, Mallory Pigage, Jeccyka Brown, Mathew Guimond, Brian Fidler, Luc Laferte, Jim Gilpin, Simon Lacombe, Hazel Venzon, Jeff Nordlund, Jennifer Solomon, Katherine Alexander, Linda Leon, Jess Macdaniel, Simon, Maureen Conway, Mary Simon, Shauna Jones, Sarah Johnston, Kate Andre, Lee Ash, Mayuko, Kim Beggs, Ryan McCallion, Marlene Walde, Todd Vanderlinden, Moira Sauer, Conrad Bishop, Sally Wright, JP Pinard, Tracy Allard, The Wheeler family from Dawson City, Matt Guimond, Bianca Martin, Carly & Ashley, David Skelton, Colleen Segriff, and the students from the Music, Art & Drama (M.A.D) program: Danielle, Kat, Sana, Megan, Kestral, Mary, Tory, Kylee, Loughlan, Claire, Caitlyn, and Brooke, and anyone else we may have missed.

Big thanks to our Toronto-based participant coordinator Scott Dermody for helping to make all this happen.

A major thank you is also owed to YAC Artistic Director Eric Epstein and Associate Artist Erin Corbett of the Yukon Arts Centre, who were incredible hosts and truly went above and beyond to make the show a success.

Having demonstrated many superhero skills over the week, Erin even looked after the children of some of our detainees one night to ensure the Wheelers of Dawson City could participate in the show. We were also thrilled to have Eric join the show as a detainee not once, but twice during the run. This tour would not have been possible without our first invitation from Eric Epstein after he saw our original production at SummerWorks in 2011.

Of course, while we were in The Yukon, it was a mix of work, rehearsals, performances, travel, and planning for the other stops on our tour. We each took photos as we made our way, and we’d like to share some of our favourites with you here:

We’re looking forward to our weeks ahead in Vancouver at The Firehall Arts Centre, before we head back for a Toronto run and then Montreal and Ottawa. We can still use your help to make this entire tour possible. Check out our Indie Go Go campaign here to make a $10 donation. Every $10 helps!

Click here for tickets in Vancouver.

September 13, 2011, by

by Michael Wheeler

“The rich people have their lobbyists and the poor people have their feet.”

Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of Canadian Civil Liberties Association speaking at a post-show panel at after You Should Have Stayed Home at The 2011 SummerWorks Festival.

This summer I directed You Should Have Stayed Home, a play about theatre artist Tommy Taylor’s experience over 48 hours of the G20 weekend in Toronto presented at the 2011 SummerWorks Festival. While trying to return home from his first ever protest as a law-abiding citizen at the “Free Speech Zone” at Queen’s Park, Taylor was swept up in a mass arrest, caged with 40 other people in a 10ft by 20ft cage and denied drinking water until he passed out from dehydration.

Taylor contacted me in February to talk about collaborating on a piece of theatre adapted from his Facebook note, How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto. Having read the post, I knew the story presented an excellent opportunity to dramatize and address the deterioration of civil rights in Canada.

Click the logo to read the rest of the article on

August 13, 2011, by

Click to enlarge. Photo by Verne's iPhone

For more information and context read The Toronto Star article:
Stage play takes you inside G20’s crammed jail

Final performance at The Theatre Centre as part of SummerWorks tonight at 10pm.
Tickets go on sale at 9pm.

August 12, 2011, by

Tonight at midnight 40 people will fill the cage. Photo by Will O'Hare

by Michael Wheeler

Tonight at midnight we are adjusting the way we perform You Should Have Stayed Home. For one night only, the show will be presented as a slightly altered version that includes a cast of 40 instead of the regular 27.

The decision is informed by our desire to present a clear idea:

This is what 40 people crammed into a 10ft by 20ft cage, begging for water looks like. Our set is the same dimensions as the cages at The Eastern Ave. Detention Centre during G20 Toronto, and it will be full of the same number of bodies.

We don’t imagine that this will be in any way a REALISTIC portrayal of what it was like to be detained and deprived of your Charter rights that weekend, but we do think it is something theatre should try to look at.

When I trained as a director at The Tarragon Theatre under Artistic Director Richard Rose we discussed at length the notion that at the end of the day, theatre is people moving through space and time. This is the actual number of bodies, in a good approximation of the space, for about 12 minutes of our hour-long show.

There is an interesting mix of family, friends, and theatre community members joining the cast for one night to contribute to this theatrical experiment. I’m even going in the cage myself. It seems important.

Yesterday’s ruling by a Toronto judge that the police acted as aggressors against peaceful protestors at G20, shows that as a community and a democracy, demanding accountability from our institutions and law enforcement agencies is more urgent than ever. I’m not sure if a piece of theatre can achieve that, but we have decided to try.

“The only organized or collective physical aggression at that location that evening was perpetrated by police each time they advanced on demonstrators… The zealous exercise of police arrest powers in the context of political demonstrations risks distorting the necessary if delicate balance between law enforcement concerns for public safety and order, on the one hand, and individual rights and freedoms, on the other”

Justice Melvyn Green – in a 29-page ruling released yesterday