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

Category: Harbourfront Centre

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).

June 15, 2012, by

HATCH 2013 Guest Curator Trevor Schwellnus

The HATCH performing arts residency at Harbourfront Centre is going into its 9th year as a program designed to incubate and foster invention and innovation in the local performance scene for Toronto artists in theatre, music, dance and performance. It culminates in a week in the Studio Theatre with one public presentation of the work in progress. 

Trevor Schwellnus is the Guest Curator for the 2013 season. He recently spoke with HATCH coordinator (and frequent Praxis collaborator) Margaret Evans about the program and the call for submissions, due Wednesday June 20, 2102.

HATCH submissions are due in 5 days- What advice do you have for those applying?

On an artistic level: Be honest and be curious. If you’re doing it for the art, you have your way in. For this stuff, it’s all about knowing what interests you and having an idea that you want to play with. I feel that HATCH offers two things at once: a chance to move a project forward, and a chance to give an artist breathing room / an incentive to develop their own practice.  So my advice is: know what you need to work next, and use that as the basis of your proposal.

On a practical level: You will want to apply for a development grant (or three) this summer to pay yourself and your collaborators.  This application is a great first step in getting your plan together – budgets, schedules, and how you think you might use your time – for the bigger applications.  Think about moving the whole thing, and how this is a step on the way.  Use the deadline as motivation.  Also: talk to your collaborators right away!  You don’t have to make big promises to anyone – we all know that an application is just an application, and next April things might have changed – but invite them to the table now to get your dream team in the application.

HATCH Coordinator Margaret Evans

What was your first HATCH project and how did you learn about the program?

My first encounter with HATCH project was the first project in the program, Matt MacFadzean’s richardthesecond.  Things were pretty open back then, and at the time HATCH (whatever the intentions were for the program) worked as a kind of opportunity for indie companies to mount their stuff for a week. I was TD for that show, and we were developing it as a possible piece for touring to schools

You might hold the record for participation in HATCH projects, I’ve also seen you in the audience for many others. How do you feel the program has evolved?

I think the indie participants quickly learned that a week isn’t a lot of time to put up and mount a work in progress, so the “road house” aspect of HATCH was less useful to a young company than the opportunity to work out issues with the tech support.  So companies started coming in with proposals that were in development, and tended to present a single showing at the end.

It feels like a very natural evolution: the stress of tech and presentation doesn’t really allow you, in a week, to do anything exploratory – there isn’t much room to push limits and test things in a week if you are trying to sell a bunch of shows that week as well.  It really came through for me that way the year Laura Nanni took on the curator’s job – she made that approach much more the focus of the program, allowing the artists involved to take real risks, and I think that’s when it took on a new life.

What do you think you will bring to the role of guest curator?

I like to think I bring a good sense of what it means to work collaboratively on stage, an eagerness to see what other people can do with it, how they reflect the world back to us through new media and much older practices. And on a practical level, an appreciation of the resources and ambitions of independent performance-makers who have to produce their own work.

Can someone put a HATCH application together in 5 days?

For sure – the key to any proposal is the strength of the idea that an artist is interested in, and having a sense of how to make it happen.  Don’t bullshit – if you feel you’re saying things for effect, or saying the same thing over and over in your application, you might need more time to clarify your ideas.

But I find that putting an application together is actually the first step in making your project happen – otherwise it’s just a bunch of ideas that live in your head until you forget about them. Which sucks.  So if you have a thought, put it down, get it out.  Even if you don’t get into HATCH, you’ve started something.

For more information on the HATCH performing arts residency at Harbourfront Centre, visit  this link, email or call 416-973-4237.

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.
November 7, 2011, by

Click to enlarge

by Shira Leuchter

Last month I was able to spend an afternoon with Frank Cox-O’Connell and Evan Webber (and Christopher Stanton on the sound board) as they worked on their piece Ajax.

This intimate piece will be staged alongside Little Iliad this spring. I was able to watch them work through two sequences – the beginning and the end – of the piece. The show will only accommodate a very small audience so I’d urge you to book tickets really early – all of the tickets for this year’s World Stage season have just gone on sale on November 1st.

Materials: Vellum, Tape

About the show: Ajax & Little Iliad will play from April 4-8, 2012 as part of this year’s World Stage season at Harbourfront Centre.

Shira Leuchter makes performance stuff and other art stuff. She recently worked with UnSpun Theatre on a new piece that was performed as part of Harbourfront’s HATCH program.

Her website is here and she collects all of her shallowest thoughts here.

April 15, 2011, by


He kissed the girl
in the ballerina skirt.
It was a long one –
like the kiss –
drenching her sneakers
in tulle.



One Block examines how each of us is shaped by our physical environments, by the people who have surrounded us, and by the histories that swell under our feet. Unspun Theatre imagines an investigative romp that explores a convergence of ideas about landscape and story. Part of the Harbourfront Centre HATCH season.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

8:00PM Studio Theatre

York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West

Click here for tickets.

March 13, 2010, by

Dave Tompa on how he scored the juicy role of an NDP Member of Parliament in Praxis Theatre’s Section 98

Praxis Theatre’s one-night-only workshop presentation of Section 98 is finally here.  Do you have your tickets yet?  Last night we had an invite-only dress rehearsal, and we learned a lot.  In particular, after all these years of audiences being told to turn their cell phones off, we’re finding it a bit of a challenge to encourage you not only to leave them on, but to actually put them to use during the show.  So we’re hoping to see you and your cell phones at the Harbourfront Centre tonight at 8pm.

Check out Praxis Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director Michael Wheeler talking to Harbourfront about our “Open Source” show, and why you need to bring your phones.  See you tonight!

Harbourfront Centre’s Upfront talks “Open Source Theatre” with Praxis Co-Artistic Director, Michael Wheeler

March 12, 2010, by

Tell us what you’re thinking as you’re thinking it!  We want to hear what you think of our show…

January 28, 2010, by

theatre glow

Okay so you know you want to make theatre and you know it will be cool and awesome like nothing anyone's ever seen. Now what?

by Michael Wheeler

Theatre Centre Managing Director Cathy Gordon and I are speaking at University of Toronto tomorrow. There is an official post about it on the University College website (note the not-so-subtle use of ivy in their web identity), and a facebook event page as well.

Ostensibly we are talking about how to approach public funding for theatre projects and companies. We have some handouts and concrete ideas about that part. What arts councils, what granting programs, what deadlines, etc.

The real story – as most Canadian arts practitioners will tell you – is not one of knowing how to fill out the right form, at the right time, with the right words. It’s my theory (having never been on a granting jury) that the single biggest factor in the success of a grant application is whether or not the applicant had demonstrated a history of excellence. Are you someone who has a history of making compelling art?

So the most immediate question for all of these soon-to-be-graduates is how to approach these sorts of questions: How can you establish a track record and a good one? Should you start a theatre company? How do you pay for things without grants in the beginning? What sorts of projects should you pursue? Are you doing it to leverage your identity as a performer or to create a cohesive ensemble? Why?!?

I’m pretty sure coming up with good answers to these sorts of questions is what leads to grant applications eventually being successful. There aren’t any singular right answers to any of them, but they all require conscious and considered answers.

What do you think readership? What other questions should fresh graduates be asking themselves as they prepare to embark on a theatre career in 2010? Also, please tell me if you think I’m wrong about the excellence thing. What else is important to consider?

Image by Lionoche under a Creative Commons license

November 26, 2009, by


Harbourfront Centre and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre invite you to participate in a FREE, three-day workshop with Glasgow-based artist Adrian Howells, delving into the process and considerations related to autobiographical, confessional and intimate performance.

Howells has been a performance artist for the past 20 years. He creates work that promotes intimacy and genuine exchange with the audience in one-to-one, autobiographical and confessional contexts, in a range of non-traditional performance spaces. He has developed work investigating sexuality, social taboo and social conventions in public space and private situations. Howells is a recognized artists and performance professor at the University of Glasgow, with extensive experience in workshop facilitation and lecturing for high school and university students, professional artists and community groups.

HATCHLab is a peer-to-peer learning opportunity presented as part of our HATCH: emerging performance projects and World Stage programmes. The mandate of HATCHLab is to link the local performance community with international peers and practices. Past HATCHLabs have been facilitated by New York’s The TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment), Australia’s Back to Back Theatre and UK’s Stan’s Cafe.

Space is limited. If you are interested in taking part contact: for more information.

March 30, 2009, by

This is the first time we’ve ever posted a job opening, but Harbourfront Centre is accepting applications for a position that seems ideally suited to regular readers of this blog:

“Currently an employment opportunity exists in our Design Communications Department for a contract Social Media Specialist. Reporting to the Web Site Content Administrator, this position will be responsible for the execution of all social media strategies for Harbourfront Centre and its programmes to enable further interaction and engagement with our diverse audiences and increase brand awareness and website traffic.”

Click here to read the full posting.

May the most savvy social media/arts and culture integration expert win!