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

Category: indie caucus

September 18, 2009, by

The Ontario all candidates meeting is this Sunday September 20th, 7pm @ the newly helmed Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto. Don’t take advice from the Indie Caucus. If you are a member of CAEA in good standing, go and learn for yourself who will best advocate for the type of theatre and practices you would like to see develop in Canada.

Chris Hanratty


Hanratty Minotaur

I’ve been a CAEA member since 2004, and in that time I’ve worked under almost all of the contracts that Equity prescribes. Having worked primarily within the independent theatre community – and therefore under the ITA, the Indie, the Co-op Policy and the Fringe waiver – I am particularly attuned to the needs of artists who are making and producing independent performance work. Independent theatre is the driving force behind a strong sense of theatre community and is the starting point for many theatre artists, but the needs of this community are under-served and under explored by Equity.

As a CAEA Ontario Council member, I would like to help artists spend less time on the business side of being an artist and more time being an artist, by reviewing and revising the process, protocols and agreements to better reflect our needs. I would work with Equity and the independent theatre community to build and foster a stronger, more cohesive, relationship. The recent closing of Equity Showcase Theatre and the near-closing of the Western Office also strengthened my resolve to ensure that the voices of independent theatre artists are clearly a part of the decision making process. On Council, I would strive to put the Association back into the hands of its members.

Richard Lee



My name is Richard Lee and I am an actor, fight director, sound designer and independent theatre producer. I’ve been an Equity member since 2001.

The things I’d like to see improved in our association is the way in which we deal with artists from diverse backgrounds. I’d like to find positive active ways to promote and encourage the casting of diverse artists. Canada is a multicultural society and I think it would be great to see the stages of our theatres reflecting our country’s diversity in full.

Having worked as a producer of independent theatre, I would like to see our association keep up with the various diverse practices of creating theatre. Many independent companies are evolving the way they create theatre and I feel that we, as an association, need to grow the ways in which we engage these companies. By doing so, we continue to ensure and foster safe working conditions within these unique models of practice.

I am also interested in seeing better encouragement from our association in member driven projects. Supportive understanding of the spirit of creation within our membership encourages the growth of our industry, and thereby leading to more awareness of theatre in the community at large and more opportunities for members in the long run.

The world is ever evolving and changing, and we as an association must be aware of these changes and be proactive in our approach when working with all of Equity’ s partners. I am looking forward to serving on council, to be one of the voices of our association and to work together on all fronts to find ways to engage our audience and to raise awareness of the great theatre that is being made in Canada.

September 17, 2009, by

Mark Brownell



My reason for running for the Equity’s Ontario CPAG is this: A few years ago a decision was made by Equity to withdraw funds from Equity Showcase. As most independent theatre people in Toronto know, Showcase was a vital rehearsal resource to Equity artists in this city. That incident, as well as concerns about the handling of indie contracts by the staff and current council at Equity, was a wake-up call for me. I was forced to consider a more proactive involvement with Equity. I believe member/creators risk losing a voice at our Association if we succumb to apathy when important decisions are being made on our behalf. I am going to fight for Equity member/creators in the GTA to receive equal and fair treatment by our Association.

Vinetta Strombergs



I am running for the Ontario CPAG as a result of attending the AGM where the large turnout was primarily due to a pressing issue affecting members who are trying to create original theatre in tough economic times. I have served previously on Council and the National Executive and also chaired the Directors and Choreographers Committee. I believe my experience and perspective will be useful in ongoing discussions related to developing new agreements that do not undermine our existing collective agreements but also recognize our need to practice our artform and create theatre that reflects our individual passions and talent. Creating theatre is as important to our artistic development as taking classes to improve our skills. We are not just actors, directors and stage managers, some us are also creaters and therefore become producers. We need to examine the distinctions Equity makes when dealing with its own members in this regard. Even though Equity is a national organization, I think we can take into account regional differences in the same way that we recognize opera and ballet agreements are different from theatre and Stratford is different from Shaw. I would also like to explore new ways of cutting down excessive paperwork without jeopardizing security and accountability.

Aaron Willis



I am an actor, director, and Equity member since 2003. As a member who creates and produces theatre at the independent level, I am running for Ontario CPAG to help represent the voices of artists who, in order to bring their work to the stage, often take on a multitude of production responsibilities over and above the creation of their art.

Independent theatre artists who are members of CAEA and who attempt to create and mount our own work often find ourselves in an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with our own Association. If we are to continue generating new work, nurturing the development of new and diverse artists on our stages, and ensuring the viability of young theatre companies, it is essential that all members of CAEA who have a vested interest in these things make their voices heard, or risk decisions being made on our behalf without our input. We must be transparent about the frustrations and obstacles that we face, and we must continue to recommend and advocate for new models of engagement that more accurately & adequately reflect the evolving needs of the artists. These models of engagement must be as innovative as the work being created.

As your CPAG representative I intend to stand for the voices of those CAEA members who, despite the countless obstacles, bravely continue to create and produce their own work when no one else will. These member-creators not only provide constant work opportunities for other Equity members, they are the life-force of independent theatre in this city, and across the country.

September 14, 2009, by

This week we turn over our website to The Indie Caucus (IC), which Praxis Theatre is a member of. The IC (as no one has ever referred to it) is a TAPA committee formally announced at the 2007 AGM for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). It was created to provide a forum for companies to work together through the many challenges that face indie theatre in Toronto.

There is no formal membership to the IC. It is open to any TAPA member who self-identifies as an “indie” company. The IC makes decisions based on a consensus model that is inclusive to the desires of all who regularly attend meetings, and to date we have held three public town hall sessions to receive as much feedback as possible from the community about our proposals.

Unfortunately, the IC has been bogged down in 3 years of what can only be described as stonewalling by CAEA. Our attempts to come up with solutions to the problems posed by the myriad of problems the antiquated agreements they require us to use have sucked up a massive amount of volunteer hours thus far. The IC was supposed to be about working together to find to solutions to all sorts of theatre producing things: marketing, ticketing, outreach, budgeting, etc.

We’re really bored with this situation and are excited to move on to working through other challenges. A full chronology of our incredibly frustrating journey is available on the Facebook group created to communicate with likeminded artists on this topic: Artists for a New CAEA Agreement.

We definitely hit a wall when a 96-1 vote at CAEA’s last AGM to support our proposals was widely ignored by the organization. (They can do that?) Reform from the inside seems the only hope at this point as the desires of CAEA membership seems to be having little discernable effect on policy.

This week, ballots for Equity elections will be mailed to all members in good standing. Don’t throw that ballot in the garbage! Since there was only a 28% voter response from the general membership in the last Council election your vote can definitely make a difference.

The Indie Theatre Caucus at TAPA would like to independently endorse the following candidates for Ontario Council and CPAG:

Ontario Equity Councillor:

Chris Hanratty & Richard Lee

Ontario CPAG

Mark Brownell, Aaron Willis & Vinetta Strombergs

These are all Equity member/creators who have actively participated in Indie Caucus activities over the past three years. All understand and are publicly supportive of the issues surrounding small independent theatre in this country. We also recommend that all members from across the country check out all of the candidate statements in your region on the Equity site by clicking here:

It is quite apparent from many of these statements which candidates support indie issues and which do not. Later this week: We hear from the Indie Caucus candidates on why they deserve your vote!