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

Category: Jesus Chrysler

December 7, 2011, by

Aviva Armour-Ostroff as Dee. Set and Costumes by Scott Penner. Photo by Will O'Hare

“Jesus Chrysler is currently onstage at a re-imagined Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. It is an important Toronto story about our history. My jaw dropped and I said “wow” out loud when I entered the transformed theatre. I was immediately transported into another world and welcomed by fellow comrades. It was like a child seeing Santa’s Village at the mall for the first time.”

George Perry- Mooney on Theatre

No matter what night of the week, you can see Jesus Chrysler for $20. Only $15 for weekend matinees.

December 6, 2011, by

Check it out – Jesus Chrysler has its own video game: Save a Pinko!

Inspired by the time Eugenia “Jim” Watts’ spent as an ambulance driver during the Spanish Civil War, the game has seven levels of increasing difficulty as you pick up wounded comrades (pinkos), which earns you points while you avoid fascist soldiers, their bullets and boulders.

Save a Pinko is created by Dames Making Games co-coordinator @cecilycarver, who also created the Ride The Cyclone game.

Cecily got her start making games through The Difference Engine Initiative, which “aims to diversify what kind of videogames are made” by “introducing new gamemakers from under-represented groups”.

What is your high score? Can you finish Save a Pinko? Only Cecily has completed the game so far, so it is difficult to complete but it is possible…

December 3, 2011, by
1 comment

Margaret Evans as Jim (r) with Jeffrey Wetsch as Nate (l). Photo By Will O'Hare

With a 40-person capacity and a run that closes December 11th, Jesus Chrysler is presented in a special Sunday night performance with Pay What You Can tickets available at the door on Sunday December 4th @ 7:30 PM.

Click here to go to a map to the theatre, here to watch the trailer and here to go to Facebook event.

December 1, 2011, by

Margaret Evans as Jim. Photo by Will O'Hare

Aviva Armour-Ostroff as Dee. Photo by Will O'Hare

Praxis Theatre Presents
Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan

Directed by Michael Wheeler
Produced by Aislinn Rose
Starring Jeffrey Wetsch,
Margaret Evans and Aviva Armour-Ostroff

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto

Thursday December 1st:
Opening Night – 7:30pm

Tuesdays – Sundays

Saturday & Sunday Matinees

Closes Sunday December 11th

$15 – $30

Facebook Event
Click here

YouTube Trailer
Click here

Jeffrey Wetsch as Nate. Photo by Will O'Hare

November 28, 2011, by
1 comment

Watch the YouTube Trailer for Jesus Chrysler

by Michael Wheeler

As the artistic leaders of The Worker’s Theatre movement in Canada during The Great Depression, Dorothy Livesay (Dee) and Eugenia Watts (Jim), upon whom Tara Beagan’s new play Jesus Chrysler is based, grew up as good friends and were some of Toronto’s original radical organizers. Based out of U of T’s Hart House Theatre, the two were part of a group that staged agitprop plays that traveled throughout South-Western Ontario in Jim’s car, which they called The Jesus Chrysler.

Members of The Progressive Arts Club including Jim Watts top left. Click to enlarge.

These performances were sometimes done for a handful of interested onlookers and sometimes performed for thousands: When they performed in solidarity with mostly immigrant women cannery workers on strike in St. Catharines they were run out of town by the police. When they performed during the Stratford furniture strike at The Brooks Steam Motor plant they did so for an audience of 3,500, or twice the number that would pack a sold-out Stratford Festival Theatre today.

Eventually these artists went on to stage Eight Men Speak, widely viewed by cultural historians as a key event that motivated the release of Communist leader Tim Buck and his colleagues from the Kingston Penitentiary and signalled the end of the use of the draconian law Section 98, which could be used to jail anyone the state deemed “seditious”. Later in the 1930s, they became inspired by NYC’s Group Theatre and the works of Clifford Odets. Founding a new theatre group called Theatre of Action, they presented the Canadian premiere of Waiting for Lefty and a number of anti-fascist works.

By 1937, Jim had left for Spain where a civil war raged and she hosted a radio show, wrote articles for a progressive newspaper and drove an ambulance. Dee went on to become a major poet after the war, winning two Governor General awards and eventually becoming an officer of The Order of Canada.

Jesus Chrysler explores the complex relationship between these women and focuses on an imagined episode in and around the founding of the Theatre of Action.

Click on the image to buy tickets

Click here to go to the Facebook event page

November 18, 2011, by

Margaret Evans (l) Plays Jim Watts, Aviva Armour-Ostroff (r) plays Dorothy Livesay in Jesus Chrysler ~ Photo by Will O’Hare


Written by: Tara Beagan & Directed by: Michael Wheeler
Starring: Margaret Evans*, Aviva Armour-Ostroff* and Jeffrey Wetsch*
Produced by: Aislinn Rose
Costumes & Set Design by: Scott Penner
Sound Design by: Verne Good
Lighting Design by: David DeGrow
Stage Managed by: Dini Conte*
Assistant Director: Laura Nordin
Movement Coach: Leora Morris
*Appearing courtesy of CAEA

Legendary activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts and poet Dorothy Livesay are embroiled in a mix of socialist organizing, sexual relationships, theatre rehearsals, and personal betrayal…

A world premiere by Dora-Award winning playwright Tara Beagan, Jesus Chrysler is an immersive production that revolves around Toronto activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts and poet Dorothy Livesay. An unsung icon of 1930s Toronto theatre, Jim had her work banned by a Prime Minister before enlisting in The Spanish Civil War, becoming its sole female ambulance driver. Livesay went on to become a two-time Governor General Award winner for poetry and an Officer of The Order of Canada. Jesus Chrysler invites you to explore their complex relationship in a show that engages with and questions the intersection of art and politics.

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto ON

Click here to buy tickets

Tuesday November 29th & Wednesday November 30th:
Previews – 7:30pm
Thursday December 1st: Opening Night – 7:30pm
Tuesdays through Sundays – 7:30pm
Saturday & Sunday Matinees – 2pm
Closes Sunday December 11th – 7:30pm

Tickets available though Arts Box Office
$15 – $30

*Due to the immersive nature of this production, seating in the Backspace is limited*

Do you enjoy

We need your help.

Click here to donate & receive a charitable receipt

This is an exciting time for Praxis Theatre. It’s our first production as part of the season of an established Toronto theatre, and the first time we have employed our artists as signatories to the Canadian Theatre Agreement.

All of this costs money and we couldn’t do it without the support of our donors. We are so close to reaching our goal, but we need your help to get us there… so we’re calling on our friends across Canada to help this indie company out.

For a short time, you can donate to Praxis Theatre via Theatre Passe Muraille and receive a charitable receipt. We promise, after Jesus Chrysler, we can leave you alone for a while!

Hope to see you at the theatre.


Jesus Chrysler has been generously supported by:

February 18, 2011, by

There is a group of young ladies from Notre Dame High School that would like to have their say about the production Jesus Chrysler, and how it has impacted them.

Christine Horne (r) plays poet Dorothy Livesay in Jesus Chrysler. She is mentoring an all-women teen theatre collective through the Paprika Festival who attended Praxis Theatre rehearsals last week.

That is us, an all-women cast with no one over the age of eighteen. We are participating in the Paprika festival for youth under 21, and it’s fairly safe to say our experience in theatre is limited to the classroom. In fact, the production we submitted came out of an exam six of us wrote and performed about oppression last year. It would be a fair assessment to say our progress has branched off from an oppression themed production, and we are currently collaboratively mounting something more to do with generation gaps and perceptions.

We work strongly together, primarily because we have been classmates for almost four years, and after working together for several months, Paprika decided to give us a mentor. Enter stage right, Christine Horne, our mentor and outside eye. She continues to work with us, and recently gave us the opportunity to watch one of the rehearsals for the show, Jesus Chrysler.

As a group of eight teenage women presenting their first production, we were grateful that the people of Jesus Chrysler let us sit in for one of their rehearsals. We had no idea what to expect as we walked into Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, we thought there would be some fierce director with a megaphone and a prima donna that always needed water. Those hoping Jesus Chrysler would have those two elements would have been severely disappointed.

When we entered, we entered a very calm atmosphere. After we were introduced to the team, they began their rehearsal, starting with notes and then beginning a full dress run through. They told each of us to move to different areas of the audience positions so they would know if they were being heard. If a line was getting lost we let Michael, the director, know. We watched Christine in action, working with Margaret Evans and Keith Barker, and noticed the cooperation between the actors and the director.

Any notes the director gave were listened to, but if the actors had any notes, they were heard as well. Someone that also really impressed us was Rebecca Powell, their stage manager, who seemed always focused. The way they worked with one another was a prelude to the actual show itself, it was clear they all had a common goal: tell the story.

Stage Manager Becky Powell, pictured here in tech,

We came in not really sure about what the play was about, or the story. None of us knew who Eugenia ‘Jim’ Watts was until they showed us, on stage. We were greeted with an intriguing personality, and had no idea this was a character born from someone with a strong history in Toronto until that time. After we left, we all checked in with each other to find out what we were all feeling.

There was this resonance towards the show, even if most of us didn’t know the story, simply because we could see that they all wanted to tell her story, and tell it well. This is something we weren’t doing for our own production, because we didn’t have a clear idea as to what story we were telling. They’re presenting a show about a woman that you want to know about. We got to an all girls Catholic school, focused on women’s empowerment, and we have never heard of the name Eugenia ‘Jim’ Watts. This is a woman we should know about, especially if we’re even remotely focused on the topic of empowerment.

There’s more to this play than the woman, but what we took away from the rehearsal was realizing the power of wanting to tell a story and realizing the importance of a story.

We hope the last two nights went well, and we are excited to come see it on Saturday. Thank you Jesus Chrysler.

Images by Will O’Hare Photography

Jesus Chrysler runs for two more nights at the Buddies in Bad Times Rhubarb Festival. Rumour has it that Saturday night is selling out, so if you want to avoid disappointment tonight could be your best bet. Click here for tickets and more information.

February 16, 2011, by

Margaret Evans as Jim Watts in Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan

Jesus Chrysler

Wednesday February 16 – Saturday February 19 @ 9pm in the Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Click here to read a preview of the The Rhubarb Festival and Jesus Chrysler in The Toronto Star.

Image  by Will O’Hare Photography

January 26, 2011, by

Margaret Evans as Jim Watts. Photo by Julien Lafleur courtesy of LabCab


Jesus Chrysler

by Tara Beagan

February 16 -19 2011 @ 9pm

at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as part of the 32nd Rhubarb Festival

performed by Margaret Evans, Christine Horne and Keith Barker

directed by Michael Wheeler

produced by Aislinn Rose

sound and lighting design by Verne Good

costume design by Scott Penner

asst. directed by Laura Nordin

stage management by Rebecca Powell

Jesus Chrysler at Rhubarb is the fourth stage of development of an evolving work centered on legendary Toronto activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts.

Click here to learn about our earlier iterations of this project at The Toronto Fringe, HATCH: emerging performance projects and LabCab.

December 10, 2010, by

"Im not a Pinko, I'm a Red" - Eugenia "Jim Watts" played by Margaret Evans in Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan at Lab  Cab 2010

"I’m no pinko: I’m a Red." - Eugenia 'Jim' Watts played by Margaret Evans in Jesus Chrysler by Tara Beagan at Lab Cab 2010

Photo by Julien Lafleur courtesy of Lab Cab.