In December last year we announced a new joint initiative with The Theatre Centre called Civil Debates: an opportunity for two speakers from opposite sides of an argument to debate their perspectives for a liveaudience. It will also be a forum for attendees to participate and vote for their preferred argument.
If you run a web-influenced theatre company for 10 years, you will accumulate some ridiculous photos.
Michael co-curated FreeFall ’12 at The Theatre Centre with AD Franco Boni, and spent seven months at The Shaw Festival, where he assistant directed Ragtime, Helen’s Necklace,A Man and Some Women and directed Brecht’s Senora Carrar’s Rifles. This fall, he returned to Toronto as an assistant director with The Electric Company at Canadian Stage and Associate Artist at Theatre Passe Muraille.
Aislinn produced a two-week festival of theatre for human rights with Aluna Theatre and five shows for other companies including Modern Times Stage Company’s production of The Lesson, and the electroacoustic opera Julie Sits Waiting with Fides Krucker. She also created online content for Liza Balkan’s Out The Window, and Michael Healey’s Proud.
Throughout the year, we wrote, hosted, curated and moderated a number of essential and vigorous conversations online at praxistheatre.com. Traffic from unique visitors is up 48% from 2011, and after beginning the year as Torontoist People to Watch in 2012, we finished up as an end-of-year pick by The Grid as a 2012 Toronto Theatre MVPs for providing “informed, well-reasoned debate… for the community of independent theatre artists in Toronto and beyond”.
In 2013, we’re moving to build upon these successes with live performances directly connected to online content:
Debates Winter/Spring 2013
Civil Debates is a monthly series we are creating with The Theatre Centre that invites two speakers from opposite sides of an argument to debate their perspectives for and with a live audience.
It is also a forum for all attendees to participate and vote on who and what they agree with. We hope this will be an opportunity to extend the online community we have developed over the years in a face-to-face setting, bringing those conversations into a physical space.
The topics for the initial four debates will be curated via a gallery installation January 12 and 13 at The Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre. Debates will take place monthly at The Theatre Centre at 1095 Queen St. W (Queen and Dovercourt) in February, March, April and May 2013. The First Debate is on Thursday, February 7th. Go put it in your book or iCal etc. right now.
Praxis 10th Anniversary Party
Party Summer 2013
Yes. Praxis Theatre has been around for 10 years!
Our first production, Eugene, a modern original adaptation of the epic poem Eugene Onegin, opened at The Theatre Centre in June 2003. Since then we have created 12 original plays, built a website and started combining the two.
Come join us for a big party we are throwing at a TBD location to celebrate. If you just know us online, this is the time to come out. If you have ever been to or been in a Praxis show, we hope you’ll come too. It seems crazy. For real. A DECADE.
Some details are still pending, but the production will be performed in several Canadian cities, including a new production for Toronto.
We’re pretty excited Tommy Taylor’s original adaptation of his Facebook note is our first show to tour, after ten years as a company. The damage done to civil liberties by the G20 Summit in Canada was a failure of all three levels of government. Thanks to the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts for their support.
Other Stuff We Don’t Know/Can’t Say Yet
? – What Else – ?
The great thing about being a small company with an adaptable communications structure is that we can take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
We have something we are working on with Videofag we hope to tell you about soon, there are probably some blog posts coming up, and other live events we will be involved with. We’ll let you know, just as soon as we know what they are.
Thanks to everyone who helped make 2012 a success. We feel really lucky to be making work that excites us with great people in 2013.
Civil Debates is a monthly series that invites two speakers from opposite sides of an argument to debate their perspectives for a liveaudience. It is also a forum for all attendees to participate and vote on who and what they agree with.
We hope this will be an opportunity to extend the online community we have developed over the years in a face-to-face setting, bringing those conversations into a physical space. We’re enthused by the intelligent and civil discourse that has developed on praxistheatre.com, particularly in the commentsofpostsabouthot buttonissues.
This got us thinking – ‘Hey – as a theatre company, shouldn’t we doing this live in a space with human bodies?’
The topics for the initial four debates will be curated via a gallery installation January 12 and 13 at The Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre.
A dual system will be used in facilitating participation: Both sticky notes and a laptop will be available to post issues and ideas that people believe would benefit from more debate. These can be posted to topics like: Theatre, Politics, The City, and Whatever. There will also be the opportunity to suggest who you think would be a great debater.
The goal is to emerge with four questions that will inspire compelling debaters to participate in an event that has genuine community interest.
Debates will take place monthly at The Theatre Centre at 1095 Queen St. W (Queen and Dovercourt) in February, March, April and May 2013.
Debate format will be based on the Canadian Parliamentary model with two speakers for either side. Just like the best acting, each debater should have a responsibility to hear the arguments that come before them and respond – not just deliver a prepared statement.
Each debate will have a moderator whose job will be to ensure debaters obey the general rules as well as the speaking format. The formal debate will last around 40 minutes.
At the end of the debate, the floor will be opened to other participants, each of whom can speak for a period of two minutes. All participants, speaking and non, will be provided the opportunity to register their vote on the topic at the conclusion of the evening. These results will be posted back here on praxistheatre.com where further debate and conversation, as always, is encouraged.
Join the Debate
If you are interested in being a debater or moderator, drop us a line via email@example.com.Tell us why critical, respectful debate is important in 150 words or less.
Hope to see you in the tent during the final weekend of The Next Stage Festival. This series begins when we get our topics from you.
The hands of live artists Lorena Torres during Aluna Theatre's critically acclaimed Nohayquiensepa
Video artist Lorena Torres will be creating live projected imagery throughout the evening.
As guests arrive they’ll be greeted by the steel-string folk & blues stylings of Praxis friend Ian Rennie. Later in the evening, Local 164, made up of Gordan Bolan, Jenny Young, Jason O’Brien and Dave Chan, will play from their set of Americana/Roots songs. You can also check them out at the Evergreen Brickworks on the June 16th.
Tommy Taylor - You Should Have Stayed Home
Tommy Taylor will be on hand to perform a short piece from our award-winning SummerWorks hit, You Should Have Stayed Home, co-produced by The Original Norwegian.
This is just a selection of some of the gourmet morsels we’ll be serving
with dill, lemon zest, and chives, garnished with yoghurt cream and served on a beet root chip.
with red chili, shallots, mango, cilantro, and citrus juice, served on a plantain chip.
Watermelon, feta, and mint bite
Watermelon cubes stuffed with fresh mint and feta salad.
Wine provided by Reif Estate Winery
Garnished with yoghurt cream and fresh peas
Praxis Gourmet Sliders
1. Fresh all beef patty with roasted tomato jam, homemade garlic pickles, radicchio
2 Fresh pork sausage patty with orange marmalade mustard and grape salsa
3. Mushroom, sweet onion aioli, aged cheddar
Coconut lime ice cream
Mini meringue cups filled with orange and rhubarb compote garnished with whipped cream and toasted almonds
Assorted ice cream and sorbets
1. Coconut lime ice cream garnished with toasted coconut
2. Strawberry ice cream with graham cracker and pecan streusel
We hope you can make the party. If you are unavailable to attend, donations of any size will be gratefully accepted at:
iPhone photo of a recent Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Theo Moudakis
1 – Play Games With Us
“Do you need my bag of miniatures?”
Toronto Fringe Exec. Director Gideon Arthurs
Ever since we started talking about our site-specific Dungeons & Dragons project at this year’s Fringe Festival, theatre people from every part of the industry have been coming out of the closet as former players of the game, with some even revealing they still regularly get together with friends to play.
We’re looking for players for our 6 hour marathon sessions in the basement of Snakes & Lattes, so let us know if you play, or used to play, and if you’re free on July 10th or July 16th. We’ll also be playing a trial game in advance of the fringe to experiment with our live sound and lighting designers, so even if you can make it to a Fringe game, there is the possibility of using you as a guinea pig whilst we quest to save our enchanted donkey. (This is not a joke – we lost our Donkey in the first trial game and we still plan on getting it back.)
2 – Get Locked in a Cage With Us
“Don’t worry – I promise we won’t get arrested.” You Should Have Stayed Home writer and performer Tommy Taylor
We have been rehearsing our 2011 Summerworks show You Should Have Stayed home off-and-on ever since we presented part of it at Buzz in April. Recently, we decided to include a scene that explores the conditions in the g20 detention centre on Eastern Ave. that requires 40 performers. No – that is not a typo: four zero. If you are A) Male and B) want to be in Summerworks – this is your chance.
You don’t need to be an actor, but you do need to be available for 4 rehearsals over evenings and weekends at the end of July, as well as all 6 performance dates (which are also mostly evenings and weekends). We will do some improvisational exercises to get a sense of each other, and Tommy and other detainees will give some presentations about their experiences. Then we will create a 10 minute scene that will be integrated with Tommy’s story. Mostly your job will be to act like someone surprised at and exhausted by being locked in a cage.
In either case all you have to do is send us an email to get the ball rolling to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to play games make the Subject: D&D Player. Tell us in 150 words or less what your connection to the game is, what you do now, and why you want to play.
If you want to experiment with what it is like to be locked in a 10 x 20 ft cage in a safe theatrical setting make the Subject: G20 Detainee. Tell us in 150 words what you do with your time on this planet and why you’d like top be involved.
Well we have been busy bees here at Praxis, writing drafts, making proposals, cutting deals, and generally hustling the way that a company must in an era where not much is going to come for free to a small indie company with no operating funding, office space, or corporate sponsors (although we’re not against having the right ones).
The end result is that we have 3 different productions at 3 different stages of development that we invite you to attend and engage with between now and the end of the year.
So we are using “season” in a new way with this announcement.
Usually, it denotes a series of final products. This model doesn’t work for a small company that often integrates presentations and performances into our development process. So our season has one show we are doing the initial exploration on, one that will be mid-development, and one that is in fact our final product.
Each show has its own relationship to how it will interact with its audience through this site and we invite you to participate in whatever way interests you:
Maybe you just like to go to the shows and read the posts; maybe something about a show infuriated you and you need to interact with us about it; maybe you will send us your thoughts or ideas when we ask for them (or when we don’t). Or maybe something else we haven’t thought of that the internet is about to invent will present itself as a possibility.
Read below to see what we’re up to.
Thanks for involving yourself with our work and communications as you see fit!
Dungeons & Dragons, (not) The Musical @ The Toronto Fringe Festival
Created by Aislinn Rose
Stage One – Just looking into it
Praxis Theatre will be playing host to three Dungeons & Dragons tournaments, where audience members can come and go throughout each adventure or stay for the full 6-hour marathon.
Part performance experiment, part research project, the events will feature some of Toronto’s favourite actors, directors and comedians at their nerdiest. While drama nerds and D&D geeks go head to head, live sound & lighting artists will create a unique atmosphere for each tournament.
Snakes & Lattes in the heart of the Annex has kindly offered their space for our shenanigans, so audience members will be able to enjoy coffee, yummy treats, and an authentic D&D in the basement experience.
July 10th, 4pm to 10pm , July 14th, 7pm to 1am, July 16th, 5pm to 11pm Venue:
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
After being translated into seven languages, attracting a concerned following around the globe, and forming the basis for a The Fifth Estate documentary, this Facebook note is a major artifact documenting the deterioration of Canadian civil rights in the 21st Century. We look forward to working with Tommy to continue this important discussion through a live performance based on his experience that is integrated with online media.
Dates: Aug 4th @5pm, Aug 6th @ 2:30pm, Aug 7th @ 10pm, Aug 10th @ 7:30pm, Aug 12th @ midnight, Aug 13th @10pm
Jesus Chrysler produced in association with Theatre Passe Muraille
Written by Tara Beagan. Directed by Michael Wheeler. Starring Margaret Evans
Stage 3 – This is it. We spent a long time making it – now we’ll put it on for you.
Jesus Chrysler revolves around 1930s activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts and the work of progressive Toronto-based theatre artists of the 1930s.
An intimate, immersive production at the centre of which is legendary Toronto activist and director Eugenia “Jim” Watts. 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. Jesus Chrysler invites a select audience to explore Jim’s life and loves along with her, in a show that engages with and questions the intersection of art and politics.
Dates: Nov 29 to Dec 11th Location: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, just north of Queen St. West, east of Bathurst Street.
In this piece, Chris Wilkinson expands upon our December 3rd post about whether the internet is facilitating a new form of theatre through websites like Xtranormal that allow text-to-movie story creation for free through your internet browser. Included in the article is a great video created using text created by Britain’s longest-serving theatre critic Michael Billington, whom no one likely imagined being mentioned in the same breath as Praxis Theatre this time last week.
Steve Fisher goes into all the ways public funding for the arts in Toronto is important and necessary, and all the ways 2010 has been a bad year for government support for the arts nonetheless. Praxis get cited at the end, as a link to observations made in this space on November 30th that our new ‘Arts Czar’ seems to be unwilling to advocate for the value of public funding for the arts, while running a world-class organization that receives 40% of its revenue from the government.
Someone, I guess we’ll never know who, renamed and reposted Ruth Madoc Jones’ December 8th Letter to Don Cherry to the social news website reddit.com – turning it into an overnight sensation. The post generated thousands of hits and additional 74 comments on reddit.com, adding to the 45 comments the post inspired in this space, making it the first post on praxistheatre.com to became a trending topic on Twitter.
Praxis also came second in the country in the Culture and Literature Category. Congrats to both Brain Droppings who took first place in the division and fellow theatre bloggers at ATP Insider who took third.
Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for praxistheatre.com!
Margaret Evans plays Eugenia "Jim" Watts in Section 98
by Simon Rice and Michael Wheeler
Like any good tyrannical minority government gearing up for a fall election, Praxis is shaking it up! Nothing beats a cabinet shuffle to temporarily boost polling numbers for an independent theatre company.
Kidding… Sort of. We are making some changes at Praxis and they are lateral, but you know in the theatre world lateral means diagonal.
We wouldn’t have the wiggle room to be so obtuse if Margaret Evans, Maggie as we all know her, had not been General Manager of Praxis for the last 2 1/2 years.
Under Maggie’s tenure Praxis produced four shows, the scope of which were our largest thus far, both creatively and budget-wise. She also oversaw the creation of our board of directors, and was steward of the most successful fundraising campaigns in the history of the company.
Despite these skills and accomplishments, her greatest asset is actually as a performer. Margaret will be retiring from her role as GM of Praxis and will be taking a more front and central role as an actor/creator in our production of Section 98, continuing her work playing Eugenia “Jim” Watts, the legendary 1930s political artist and Spanish Civil War ambulance driver and radio host.
Aislinn Rose - Praxis' new Artistic Producer
Continuing in the diagonal tradition, Aislinn Rose will be rewriting the books as Artistic Producer at Praxis. Over the past year she has acted as Script Supervisor on our 2009 Toronto Fringe production of Tim Buck 2, as well as Director of the Open Source Theatre Project for Section 98, presented as part of Harbourfront Centre’s 2010 HATCH season. As Artistic Producer she will be handling Praxis’ day to day operations as well as developing a new creative project… More on this soon.
We should also mention that she has a non-Praxis show running right now, Amy Zuch’s Key to Key, which she directs for this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival at the Royal St. George venue until Saturday July 1o.
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”