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

Category: SummerWorks

August 19, 2013, by

by Michael Wheeler,


Andrew Coyne is questioned about the role of expertise in the cultural sector. Photo: Dahlia Katz

As moderator of the ‘An End To Arts Funding?‘ debate at SummerWorks, it seems unethical for me to engage in any sort of critique of the arguments presented Wednesday.

I hope to moderate more debates in the future, and I can’t have debaters wary that although I am quite pleasant in person, I’m storing their arguments for digital deconstruction post-event.

However, there have been a number of responses from people who were in attendance and have posted their thoughts online:

And of course, before the debate Nadia Ross published this ‘opening statement’ here on Praxis:


Photo: Dahlia Katz

Tangentially, a conversation came up at the debate connected to an ongoing discussion in this space: performance and memory.

Mr. Coyne conceded there was probably some role for the state to play in archiving and preserving great works, noting that mark of a great writer is their words survive themselves and their era.

As theatre artists, we can’t aspire for our work to be preserved in the same way. You were either there, or you weren’t, and you missed it. Gone forever. We can archive notes, programs, props – even scripts – but the work itself cannot be preserved (as Holger Syme also notes in his post to makes a different point) in a way that it can be reproduced  .

This is neither here nor there with regards to the substance of the debate, but it reminds me that part of what makes live performance distinct is it is ephemeral and I am cool with that.

August 15, 2013, by

Drone creative commons

Photo Credit: Kaz Vorpal via Creative Commons (click for profile)

by Maggie MacDonald

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), predator drones, or just plain drones: we’d better get to know them, as they are soon to know us.

The use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen has sparked ongoing debate in the US, and amongst policy-watchers and academics elsewhere. Artists such as filmmaker Omar Fast have been analyzing the role of the drone pilots, who deliver remote controlled strikes on targets thousands of miles away, against a hazy object that may or may not have been a threat to national security.

Journalists and political scientists alike are asking: even if an individual poses a threat, does extra-judicial killing do anything more than set a dangerous precedent, and inspire survivors to plot a counter-attack against the enemy in the sky?

A computer can already beat a human at chess; when will a computer beat a human at moral reasoning? The musical Young Drones is about two war machines who do just that. From their motherboards springs consciousness, from consciousness, conscience. The UAVs see rabbits attempting to hop across a busy highway, and feel a terrible pain at not being able to rescue the animals from certain death or mortal maiming under the wheels of oncoming cars.  Without knowing the rabbits, the drones feel a love for them, and once this love is stirred, it extends to all living things, and to each other.

Through the medium of science fiction rock opera, Young Drones breaks down an all-too-present topic into its most basic, melodic elements, in a way only pop lyrics can do. Take matter, break it down, simplify it, hold it to the light. Underneath the questions about US foreign policy, and unfolding dramas in the War on Terror epic combat theatre, the character of the predator drone is the hero of an ancient storyline about technology itself, one that began when humans first turned wood and stone into weapons in order to gain a fleeting advantage over fellow human rivals.

Image: Amy

Image: Amy Siegel

After sticks and stones came hammers and swords. Like the sword, the predator drone calls to question the notion of technological neutrality. Recent attempts to market drones as restaurant helpers, beer delivery devices, and possible pizza-man replacements are similar to the Atomic Energy Commission’s “Atoms for Peace” campaign, which proposed nuclear weapons as tools for dam building and mining. Someone even had the great idea, never realized, to use nuclear bombs to liquify the tar sands, before recent extraction techniques were developed.

Young Drones tells the story of two UAVs developed with one purpose in mind: “Protect the Oil.” That is the anthem the humans sing when launching the devices. But these drones are equipped with something scientists and engineers have long sought to create, but only science fiction writers have succeeded in producing: artificial intelligence. The humans believe that it will make the drones better at securing the landscape, since they are able to assess threat level, strike, and destroy, with minimal human input.

In science fiction film and television, cyborgs like the Terminator are depicted as the zenith of human achievement: killing machines… with a cause. Robocop, T2, the “good” Cylons of the new Battlestar Galactica. Even when the androids do the right thing, they do it by killing the bad guys. Where are the conscientious objector robots? With Young Drones, we propose that if humans created something more intelligent and stronger than our species, that creation would do better than our species. Once in love, the Young Drones refuse to kill.

The androids, robots, cyborgs, and autonomous agents of cinema reflect our self-myths of superman and homo economicus. Greed, the tragedy of the commons, these are stories we tell, though usually with bigger budgets and less special effects than the hits of James Cameron, and Damon Lindelhof (call it denial, but I won’t drag Ridley Scott into this– that’s a fun example cognitive dissonance for you.)

In “Happy Birthday, David” a “viral clip” created to promote the blockbuster Prometheus (the latest in the Aliens franchise), the interviewer asks killer cyborg David, “What makes you sad?” At minute 1:25, he answers, “War, poverty, cruelty, unnecessary violence. I understand human emotions, although I do not feel them myself… This allows me to be more efficient and capable…”

The notion that rationality (and related economic idea “rational self-interest”) is divorced from emotion, empathy, sensitivity, and a feeling of mutual responsibility, has been turned on its head by advances in neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science. Yet this myth persists, against the evidence, and it is reflected in the cyborg films that audiences flock to see, where killer robots are born of a confluence of bad ideas from eugenics, to neoliberal economics. The only things our “Young Drones” are willing to destroy are these bad ideas. And the humans cannot order them otherwise.

The drones in our musical are young; like most teenagers, they defy the human parents who create them, to design their own future. It’s never too late to rewrite your program, and aim to be better than the myths of your species.

Image: Amy Siegel

Image: Amy Siegel

Young Drones

Music: The Bicyles and John Southworth, Writer: Maggie MacDonald, Director: Stephanie Markowitz, Visuals: Amy Siegel

Showing August 15th at Summerworks, Black Box Theatre, 1087 Queen Street West, Doors 9pm

August 14, 2013, by

by Michael Wheeler

Civil Debates image 1This week SummerWorks Artistic Director Michael Rubenfeld asked me to moderate today’s debate on the question: An End to Arts Funding? Of course I agreed.

It looks to be an exciting discussion, and I look forward to facilitating a fair and rigorous debate on the future of public investment in the arts.


PRO:  Andrew Coyne

CON:  Nadia Ross                                                                                                          

Moderator:  Michael Wheeler                                                                                               

Andrew Coyne

Andrew Coyne



Bios and Format introduced by Moderator


Opening statements   7 minutes


Asks any clarifying questions  3 minutes


Opening statements    7 minutes


Asks any clarifying questions  3 minutes


Responds to CON arguments and/or connects to their own  7 minutes

Nadia Ross

Nadia Ross


Responds to PRO arguments and/or connects to their own  7 minutes           


Closing Statement  5 minutes                                                                                  

Closing Statement   5 minutes                                                                             

5 x Questions From Audience:

2 minutes max per question, 3 minutes max to respond.  20-ish minutes

SummerWorks 2013 Debate. Lower Ossington Theatre, August 14, 2013 @ 5pm

August 8, 2013, by

by Michael Wheeler

The Summerworks Festival has begins today here in Toronto. Already, I am definitely not going to be able to make it to everything I want to see. The lineup of “crazy-ass shit” is pretty phenomenal.

To aid you in your picks, here’s some trailers by companies that are really on top of their marketing and producing, and thus have created short exciting video trailers for their productions:

Camilla’s Bones

Enough Rope

girls! girls! girls!

How Can I Forget? A Multimedia Dream


The Art of Building a Bunker or Paddling the Canoe of My Self Down the River of Inclusivity and Into the Ass of the World

for me?

Holy Mothers


January 8, 2013, by

The Carlaw will be home to a new theatre being put together by Crows Theatre

The Carlaw will be home to a new theatre being put together by Crow’s Theatre

A new year has brought some new developments to Toronto theatre:

The Wrecking Ball has a new Facebook page.

Outside The March has a new website.

Hannah Moscovitch has a new mini-festival of her plays.

SummerWorks is accepting applications for shows in the festival of mostly new works.

Red One Theatre Collective is starting a new storefront theatre in Toronto’s west end.

Crow’s Theatre is building a new theatre in Toronto’s east end.

What’s left?

When will Factory Theatre and Necessary Angel have new Artistic Directors?

August 20, 2012, by

The cast and creative team of Iceland walked away with 2.5 Summerworks awards: the NOW Audience Choice Award, Outstanding New Performance Text and an honorable mention for producer Renna Reddie for the Arts Professional Award.

The NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award ($3000):


SummerWorks Prize for Outstanding Production (free trip back to the festival next year):

Terminus, Outside The March

Contra Guys Award for Outstanding New Performance Text ($1,000):

Iceland, Nicolas Billon

National Theatre School Award for Set or Costume Design ($750):

When It Rains, 2B Theatre Company

Buddies in Bad Times Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation ($500):

Cliff Cardinal, Huff; Honorable Mention:  Kitchenband, Petrachor

Canadian Stage Award for Direction ($500):

Tanner Harvey, Big Plans

The Spotlight Award (VIP access to next year’s festival):

Ron Pederson, Extinction Song; Tamsin KelseyPietà; Terrence Bryant, Terre Haute

The Theatre Centre Emerging Artist Award ($500):

Jeremy Taylor, Playwright: Big Plans; Director: My Pregnant Brother

RBC Arts Professional Award ($1,000):

Motion Live Presents in association with Cric Crac Collective, Aneemah’s Spot; Honorable Mention: Aislinn Rose: Fierce Monsters, France or, The Niqab; Renna Reddie: Iceland

August 18, 2012, by

Summerworks 2012 Special- Philip Akin

Greta talks to Philip Akin, the Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre,  about Summerworks and how being a martial arts expert helps him run a theatre company.

Philip Akin is the director of Violent be Violet currently playing at Summerworks. Next Shows: Fri August 17 at 3:00 pm ansd Sunday, August 19 at 10pm.  For tickets and info CLICK HERE.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She performs and teaches throughout Ontario and Quebec. Greta loves the theatre and hopes to share some of her love with you through 2 Minutes With Greta Papageorgiu.

August 16, 2012, by

Summerworks 2012 Special- Amy Nostbakken

Greta learns about a not to be missed tourist attraction in Niagara Falls from Barrel Crank’s Amy Nostbakken.

Barrel Crank is the latest creation from Suitcase in Point productions. It is currently playing as part of the Summerworks Festival.  For more information about showtimes and tickets click here.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She performs and teaches throughout Ontario and Quebec. Greta loves the theatre and hopes to share some of her love with you through 2 Minutes With Greta Papageorgiu.

August 15, 2012, by

Summerworks 2012 Special – Beatriz Yuste

Greta chats with Bea Yuste about the practical side of wearing a niqab.

FRANCE (or, The Niqab) runs until Sunday, August 19th at the Summerworks Festival.  For showtimes and ticket info click here.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She performs and teaches throughout Ontario and Quebec. Greta loves the theatre and hopes to share some of her love with you through 2 Minutes With Greta Papageorgiu.

August 14, 2012, by
1 comment

SummerWorks 2012 Special- Margaret Evans and Laura Nordin

Greta gets some tips on how to handle firearms from the leading ladies of Fierce Monters. She goes a little overtime…but it’s worth it.

Fierce Monsters is the latest production from The Pop Group. For information on showtimes and to purchase tickets click here.

Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, writer, teacher and director. She performs and teaches throughout Ontario and Quebec. Greta loves the theatre and hopes to share some of her love with you through 2 Minutes With Greta Papageorgiu.