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

Category: political theatre

August 24, 2010, by

Mayoral Arts Debate

June 4, 2010, by

Wrecking Ball 10

Mon June 21st @ 8pm. Theatre Centre. Queen & Dovercourt. PWYC.

Wrecking Ball #10 is on its way, and with works by artists Marjorie Chan, Melody Johnson, Bea Pizano, Schuyler (Sky) Gilbert & Roland Schimmelpfennig, you really want to be there.  Click here for more information.

December 8, 2009, by

Counsellor desks

Councillors sat at these desks to pass the sign bylaw 25 -16 before investigating how the flux capacitor had caused the warp drive to go offline

By Michael Wheeler

Yep, that’s right: Toronto has a new sign bylaw and it’s a pretty good one. A ten-year battle by public space advocates was passed by an even wider margin they hoped for. It will create more than $10 million for the City of Toronto annually. Their success will likely go down as a famous and glorious moment in grassroots political organizing in Toronto, and a good story for the kids about what you can accomplish with a huge dose of sticktoitiveness and a flawlessly executed and integrated social and mainstream media campaign.

The news for arts funding advocates was less rosy. Even though the City of Toronto staff report recommended directing the revenue to arts funding, the bylaw was passed without this stipulation and there are many assurances, but no guarantees, that some of the funds will be earmarked for art. Councillor Rob Ford stated explicitly that he believed the monies would not end up being used for arts funding.

Ford was emblematic of the virulent anti-artist bias that still exists within City Hall. Attacking artists in attendance, referring to them as “freeloaders”, he questioned their ability to simultaneously be employed and participate in democracy by attending City Hall. Councillor Minnan-Wong went as far to suggest that artists are not real people – hoping to ensure that the funds would never see any arts groups going instead to, “real people, real communities”.

Councellor Rob Ford was comfortable hurling insults at artists during the debate no problem hu

Councillor Rob Ford was comfortable hurling insults at artists during the debate.

Cheekiest moment of the debate went to Councillor Adam Vaughan for his motion that the City of Toronto congratulate Knaan for being chosen to perform in front of hundreds of millions with his 2010 World Cup song and for generally becoming a major world superstar who is still engaged with his community. Counsellor Vaughan was also quick to point out that Knaan had been the recipient of municipal arts funding when he was an emerging artist in Etobicoke – the region Rob Ford represents.

Net result: This is a great opportunity for artists to take the high road and and strengthen relationships with their allies. Clearly this bylaw would never have passed with out artists and arts-based activism. Clearly the arts should see some of this money – but what about the rest of it? After $1.4 Million of the tax is used to pay for proper enforcement of the new sign bylaws, what will the other $9 million go to? Obviously the Toronto Arts Council is a good start, all of it would double what TAC gives out in a given year, which seems unrealistic in a city with a cost-prohibitive transit system.

What are the other things that make a city beautiful?  I would go with 1) less hunger 2) more affordable housing 3) cleaner air/better cycling routes. Someone else might pick something else, but I bet most artists would be in the same ballpark. Arts activists are now in a unique position to increase their own funding and that of their allies and partners in making a truly beautiful city.

This is possibly the only way to prove ideologues like Ford and Minnan-Wong wrong: By showing we understand we are part of a grander scheme for society, one that incorporates many factors that work in tandem with one another that make our communities a better place to live. We are even capable of sharing resources amongst ourselves – because it is essential to each element that we all thrive. Real people and communities are complicated and multi-dimensional that way.

December 2, 2009, by

Come to the vote round 2

There are numerous reasons why the plan to tax billboards and use the money to fund culture is a long overdue strategy as outlined in this post by Torontoist writer Hamutal Dotan. What became clear from Tuesday’s proceedings at City Hall was that the wealthy billboard lobby ain’t goin out like that.

Amendments proposed by Councillor Norm Kelly on Tuesday pose a real danger to the initiative. Councillor Adam Vaughan pointed out (to inappropriate and thoroughly scolded applause) that the amendments amounted to cutting the proposed tax in half while more than doubling the number of billboards allowed and increasing their size.

Whether or not these amendments will become reality has a lot to do with if middle-of-the-road councillors feel the public pressure to accept the bylaw as the city’s own non-partisan staff has recommended, or whether this is something they can float under the radar on and side with the lobbyists by passing it with shady amendments.

If you show up in at City Hall tomorrow that becomes less likely. It is an election year after all…

November 5, 2009, by
1 comment

Section 98 Web Final Computer

Praxis Theatre presents Section 98: an open-source, interactive, original theatrical creation.

Section 98 dramatizes historical and current events while incorporating modern technology to explore individual and civil rights in Canada. This stage of the creation process will be developed in the context of The Progressive Arts Club, The FLQ, and the present day. The production invites the audience to participate in this experiment through their cellphone, PDA, on their computer before and after the performance, in person, or to simply observe and not interact at all!

The suspension of rights has been a contentious issue throughout Canadian history. Section 98 uses theatre and technology to enable everyone to debate and discuss these issues in 2010. A single presentation of this work-in-progress presentation of this work will occur on will take place at Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre on March 13th 2010 at 8pm.

As an “open source” theatrical project we aim to keep our artistic process open, available and interesting through the use of this website. This production is a collective collaborative creation with all members of the creative team contributing to the process. That being said, we all have specific roles:

Director: Michael Wheeler
Assistant Director: Laura Nordin
Online/Script Coordinator: Aislinn Rose
Dramaturg: Alex Fallis
Sound and Lighting Design: Verne Good
Stage Management: Brittney Filek-Gibson
Performers: Margaret Evans, Jody Hewston, Melissa Hood, Greta Papageorgiu and Ben Sanders.

Click the image below to learn more about Section 98 and Open Source Theatre.
*Photography by Meredith Hanafi

Section 98 I Phone wtext small


November 3, 2009, by

Sun Nov 9 @ 8pm. Theatre Centre. Queen and Dovercourt. PWYC.

Sun Nov 8 @ 8pm. Theatre Centre. Queen and Dovercourt. Toronto. PWYC.

Wrecking Balls are going on across the country this November. Not in Toronto? Check the website for the Wrecking Ball in Canada nearest you.

Following on the heels of the National Wrecking Ball 7 during the 08 federal election it’s pretty clear this has morphed into a national political theatre phenomenon.

June 30, 2009, by

6 Shows Only:

Thu July, 2 6:15 PM 
 Sat July, 4 2:30 PM 
 Sun July, 5 7:45 PM 

Wed July, 8 6:00 PM 
 Fri July, 10 4:15 PM 
 Sun July, 12 2:30 PM


Click here for map to the theatre and fringe advance box office (Same convenient location)

Click here to buy tickets online at

Click here to learn more about the show

November 26, 2008, by

Tamsin Greig and Jessica Raine in David Hare’s Gethsemane at the National Theatre Cottesloe 
(Photo: Catherine Ashmore)

Our recent post about the content of content on blogs, sparked a conversation that became both antagonistic and circular before this post by director Christine Bacon came up.

The piece discusses her work with London England-based and human rights-focused theatre company iceandfire and their outreach initiative, Actors for Human Rights. Their method is a “rapid response” that uses churches, pubs and everything in between “rushing the urgent news to audiences who need to hear it now”. 

Her post is a direct response to a critique of the new David Hare play Gethsemane published in The Telegraph. In it, critic Dominic Cavendish, founding editor of, argues that political theatre is too slow a medium as a producing model to respond quickly enough to current events. He expands his critique of English political theatre further:

“But to many of us, idealism has been precisely the problem. There has been too much cavalier self-belief, too much succumbing to the messianic credo of “social justice”. Many of my generation, not Sir David’s, want less fervour and more common sense – and want fiercer material from our playwrights to puncture the complacency of those baby boomers at the top of the tree.”

Does the time it takes to fundraise for and produce theatre make political theatre obsolete? Is there a developing generational split in terms of what what and how political theatre should critique? What’s different about the relationship between politics and theatre in Canada?

November 16, 2007, by
1 comment

Good news
Praxis Theatre Co-Artistic Director Simon Rice has resurrected his widely beloved U.S. politics journal The Rice Report.

A Rice Report primer
The Rice Report started back in 2004 – a reaction to Simons growing distress with the state of American politics and its questionable foreign policies. His Rice Report newsletter series used the 2004 U.S. presidential election as a springboard to foster rigorous (and informed) discussion of an increasingly compromised democratic process.

His weekly reports became wildly popular among a small group of followers – and included a live play-by-play “performance” of the controversial Kerry-Bush showdown on election night: Tuesday, November 11, 2004.

A new blog
We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Rice to the blogosphere and announce the return of The Rice Report. Among the topics hes promising will be in the cards:

Who’s running? From Hilary to Huckabee, the A-Z on 2008!
2004 Aftermath Was the general election stolen?
The Hidden History of 9/11 A weekly crash course for beginners and/or skeptics.

And if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with theatre, check Simon’s response to one of our 10 questions:

6) How has your interest in American politics influenced your ideas about theatre?
American politics have all the great elements of drama – farce, tragedy, absurdity, heroes, villains, clowns – the stakes are always high and although much focus has been put on the circus-like atmosphere of modern American politics, we all want to know what the next Act will bring. The Bush administration has felt like the usurping power in one of Shakespeare’s histories. With Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld emerging as chief rhetorician, uttering such poetic lines as, “The absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence,” when no WMDs were found in Iraq. That’s a beautiful line!

I guess what I’m saying is that my passion for American politics deepens my understanding of theatre, and vice-versa.

Click here to get to The Rice Report, then hit Bookmark” on your browser. You’ll be glad you did.