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

Category: The Next Stage Theatre Festival

January 9, 2014, by

Click image to read NOW cover story

Click image to read NOW cover story


By Nicolas Billon, Starring Kate Hennig, Directed by Michael Wheeler

A Praxis Theatre production at The Next Stage Theatre Festival

In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, Senora Carrar refuses to pick sides: her husband died in combat and she’s determined to keep her two sons alive and out of the conflict. But as Franco’s army marches towards their village, her resolve is challenged.

Click here for tickets

Kate Hennig and Cyrus Lane

Kate Hennig and Cyrus Lane

Dates & Times:
Wednesday, January 8th, 9:30pm
Thursday, January 9th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 11th, 2:30pm
Sunday, January 12th, 7:00pm
Monday, January 13th, 9:15pm
Wednesday, January 15th, 7:00pm
Thursday, January 16th, 5:00pm
Saturday, January 18th, 7:00pm
Sunday, January 19th, 9:30pm


Cast: Kate Hennig, Cyrus Lane, Araya Mengesha, Barbara Gordon, Hume Baugh, Philip Graeme, Zoe Sweet, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Matthew Hines
Original Composition: Beau Andrew Dixon
Set and Costume Designer: Erin Gerofsky
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Vandevelde
Stage Manager: Kat Chin

January 11, 2013, by

Click the image to read the full post on The Theatre Centre website. Photo by Han Soete via Creative Commons

Click the image to read the full post on The Theatre Centre website.

Photo by Han Soete via Creative Commons

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 live audience. It will also be a forum for attendees to participate and vote for their preferred argument.

The topics for the first four debates of the series will be suggested by YOU, the community, via a live installation on January 12 & 13 at the Next Stage Festival’s tent at Factory Theatre.

Click on the image above for all the details, and see you at the beer tent!

January 2, 2013, by


“We were barely there. Our feelings could not be hurt because they lay elsewhere, off-campus, aurora borealis. I drew pictures of it on my binder, a smudge in a heart. A smudge and me in interconnecting hearts. Me and a smudge and a half human/half-smudge baby…What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real.” – Miranda July, “Making Love in 2003”



Julia Variation Image


WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN plays at the Next Stage Theatre Festival, Jan 2nd-13th at Factory Theatre: Studio (125 Bathurst) Click here for schedule and ticket information.

Directed by Andrew Lamb, Written by Julia Lederer, Featuring Robin Archer, Julia Lederer, and Martha Ross. Click here for more information and everything you need and want to know.
Julia Lederer is a playwright and actor who enjoys playing small instruments- for example, the mini-harmonica and the ukulele. She has always been drawn to the colour purple. Since the dawn of time, probably.

December 19, 2012, by
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Photo by Han Soete via Creative Commons

In 2013 Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre launch Civil Debates.

Civil Debates is a monthly series that invites two speakers from opposite sides of an argument to debate their perspectives for 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.  We’re enthused by the intelligent and civil discourse that has developed on, particularly in the comments of posts about hot button issues.

This got us thinking – ‘Hey – as a theatre company, shouldn’t we doing this live in a space with human bodies?’

Debate Questions

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.

Debate Format

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 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 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.

January 12, 2012, by


There is a village
which sits on my shoulders
like a vulture …
Despite this
O my village
I uninvited relate with you
as you fly
within and outside of me
like a vulture

– Sukhveer Singh




Sasha Kovacs is director of The Washing Machine at The Next Stage Theatre Festival Jan 5-15th 2012.

Learn more about the show here.

Buy tickets for the show here.

Learn more about The Next Stage Festival here.

January 9, 2012, by
1 comment

Modern Love written by and starring Jessica Moss was one of 6 sold out shows on Saturday, but the only one to include a rickroll

The fifth edition of the Toronto Fringe-run festival, designed to take companies and shows that have emerged through the Fringe circuit to The Next Stage (get it?) is having a banner year for box office sales.

The first three days of tickets sales each set records. By the fourth day of the festival, six of the ten shows were sold out, including a raucous crowd that packed the Factory Theatre Mainspace to see Montreal’s Uncalled For and their Just For Laughs Comedy Award winning Hypnogogic Logic, based very loosely on the dream logic that exists while falling asleep. Oh btw. hope you have your tickets to see legendary Fringe clowns Moro And Jasp, as their entire run at the festival is sold out already

Just as important as the sheer number of theatregoers, is the much younger demographics attending The Next Stage than your average theatre production. One imagines this will be interesting to any Artistic Director or GM contemplating their non-subscription based ticket sales over the past few years of declining box office in Toronto theatre, as this type of success demonstrates a demand for theatre from a cohort that has sorely been missing.

As this is the Fringe’s last Next Stage Festival with Executive Director Gideon Arthurs at the helm, hats of to him and his team for engineering this success-in-progress, and hats off to The Tarragon Theatre for snagging a GM familiar with a future audience for new Canadian theatre.

August 5, 2010, by

The Next Stage Festival is a juried uber-fringe held each January at The Factory Theatre. It offers audiences and industry programmers the chance to see both new and reworked productions by successful Fringe artists as they take the leap into the Next Stage of their careers.

Next Stage in the Factory Theatre Mainspace:

At The Sans Hotel
Created & performed by Nicola Gunn Designed by Nicola Gunn with Rebecca Etchell, Gwendolyna Holmberg-Gilchrist and Luke Paulding

In a deserted Hotel strewn with familiar remnants, a woman is marooned in a bathtub. She suggests something terrible has happened or is about to happen…

Duel of Ages
by True Edge Productions (with a cast of 21)

This anthology of duelling scenes begins in the 16th century and goes, all the way to its impact on the modern psyche in the age of cinema.

Fairy Tale Ending: The Big Bad Family Musical
Presented by Role Your Own Theatre from Toronto
Music and Lyrics by Kieren MacMillan & Jeremy Hutton

Fairy Tale Ending is a topsy-turvy yet touching tale of a young girl coming to grips with loss and the reality of growing up. NSTF’s first family show for kids and grown-ups – matinees and kids pricing TBD.

The Grace Project **World Premiere**
by Judith Thompson & the ensemble

The Grace Project features courageous young adults sharing their true, life-shaping experiences living with chronic illness.

Next Stage in the Factory Studio Theatre:

The Apology
by Darrah Teitel
Directed by Audrey Dwyer, Performed by: Brendan McMurtry-Howlett, Natasha Greenblatt, Sascha Cole and Daniel Chapman-Smith.

Teenage sexuality coupled with inspired political ideology fan the flames of this anachronistic work set in early 19th century British high society that discusses the tensions between maternity and feminism, ideology and love in an original story of sexual revelation.

Eating with Lola
Presented by Sulong Theatre
Written and performed by Catherine Hernandez, Directed by Ann Powell

Part confession, part revelation, Lola’s epic tale unravels the entire modern history of Manila from the time of the Thomasites to the second wave of Filipino migration to the United States – one spoonful at a time. A one woman (and one puppet) tour-de-force.

Swan Song of Maria (A Tragic Fairy Tale)
By Carol Cece Anderson
Directed by Mark Cassidy, Music Performed by Hilario Duran, Featuring Lili Francks, John Blackwood and Bridgett Zehr

Inspired by Swan Lake, the piece combines Afro-Cuban-Latin-Jazz, various dance styles and story to navigate a the forty year relationship.

Tom’s a-cold
By David Egan
Directed by Daryl Cloran, Featuring Shane Carty & Brendan Gall

In 1845, HMS Terror and Erebus set sail from England seeking the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Neither ship was ever seen again. Three years later, two men sit in a lifeboat.

May 10, 2010, by

Vancouver's newest theatre, The Revue Stage. Photo by David Cooper.

Vancouver's newest theatre, The Revue Stage. Photo by David Cooper.

  • There are two new Toronto theatre blogs by politically-minded companies to check out: Studio 180, The company behind Stuff Happens, The Overwhelming, and The Laramie Project (amongst others), has started up this new blog on their website. Meanwhile, Pandemic Theatre a young company with two new shows coming up, Imbalance and My Gaza Tis of Thee, has created a website that wins my heart by A) Having their blog be their homepage, B) Telling the gov’t often and articulately what they think of their regressive social policies. They’re having a fundraising kegger on Friday.
  • Do Nonprofits Embrace Social Media? Here’s an excellent online powerpoint kind of presentation that explains where we are with all of that after a survey of over 200 nonprofit execs. Two most interesting stats: 1- 88% are experimenting widely with social media. 2 – 79% are uncertain of how to demonstrate social media’s value for their organizations.
  • The Arts Club has opened yet ANOTHER venue in Vancouver. The Revue Stage looks to be an intimate space for “new and innovative works from both emerging and established artists”. Combine this with the opening of both Progress Lab (as a creation space) and The Cultch (with two more indie friendly performance spaces), and Vancouver has some much improved indie theatre infrastructure all of a sudden. Now they just need some money to make the theatre… oh, right.
  • Applications for The Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto are now available. The deadline is May 24th, 2010. If you have show you’re looking to take to The Next Stage – it’s time to get your sh*t together. Last year every show got reviewed in Eye and The Star and there’s nothing much else going on in January theatre-wise so it’s a great opportunity.
January 7, 2010, by
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To Justin: As a British person with a French name, do you find that Canadians have expectations of you? Do you meet those expectations?

Here in Canada people often expect me to be able to speak french because of my name – an expectation i never maintain past “Bonjour. Je m’appelle Justin Sage-Passant……parlez vous anglais?”

In England the expectation is that I’m really posh and went to a private school. An expectation i’ve never met. The whole reason I have the name I have is all due to the murky past of my Grandmother and the stubbornness of my Father to not get along with his step dad.

To Chris: As a British person with a British name, do you find that Canadians have expectations of you? Do you meet those expectations?

People assume that I will care about football, or “soccer”, as I believe it’s called, that I will be pro-royal family, and that I will not be able to light a fire or do any kind of practical work. They also assume that I know about theatre, grammar and history.

To Justin: ‘Quite Frankly’ is the story of a man whose life is a constant struggle to overcome people’s low opinions about him. I have a high opinion of you. Am I wrong?

My ego is so in need of positive affirmation that i would never say that someone is wrong when they tell me they have a high opinion of me. However struggling to overcome others low opinion of me is an experience i have lived and breathed for many years. Perhaps it is my relentless efforts in the face of the cold hard truth that you have a high opinion of?

To Chris: In a fight who would win – Chris Gibbs the street performer or Chris Gibbs the one man stage show performer?

Chris Gibbs the street performer was fitter, but Chris Gibbs the one man stage show performer is older and wilier. Plus Chris Gibbs the one man stage performer could use technical tricks to disorientate his opponent, like turning the lights off or locking the theatre doors. However, Chris Gibbs the street performer is more likely to have a sock full of coins, so he’d win.

To Justin: You worked in a four man group, then a three-man – then two, and now you do one-man shows. What’s next?

We (the original four founders of Screwed & Clued) always said that we would reform to tour our first fringe show from 1998 (Shooting Up Shakespeare) across the Canadian fringe circuit again – but this time on motorbikes with sidecars. However, four young, single lads are now four thirty somethings with, collectively, four small children, 3 partners, one dog and two cats. Perhaps we should do a stage version of the Adams Family?

To Chris: I’ve heard someone comment that your show at Next Stage is your most personal one. Does this mean we get to see the real Chris Gibbs on stage?

It’s as close to it as any show I’ve ever done, except when I was playing David Suzuki in An Inconvenient Musical. That was the real me.

To Justin: What advice would you give to a British actor wanting to get work in Toronto; someone who has a history of performing one-man shows in the fringe festivals but is as yet not constantly employed in high-paying work that he doesn’t have to write himself. If there was anyone like that?

This sounds like an incredibly unlikely scenario. Should such a person exist my advice would be to create moments in their self written shows that showcase all their abilities to the Toronto-theatre-community – like being able to do back flips……or doing a convincing Canadian accent.

To Chris: As a British born comedian who now resides in Canada I would value your opinion on…Who’s funnier – Shakespeare or Shatner?

Aaaaah, the eternal question. But based on the mistaken assumption that they are two different people. Let’s be honest, TJ Hooker was obviously based on Richard the Third. He just put the hump on the front.

To Both: Is one actually the loneliest number?

J: Yes – although I’ve heard it said that in theatre less is often more.

C: Yes. Especially if that one is in the audience.

To Both: I say Fringe Festival. You say…

J: Try it…you might like it. I did.

C: More!

Chris Gibbs is the writer and director of Like Father Like Son? Sorry.

Justin Sage-Passant is the writer and performer of Quite Frankly.

Both shows are currently playing at The Next Stage Festival, currently running at The Factory Theatre. Click the picture below to learn all about the festival, showtimes, and all other relevant info.


January 12, 2009, by
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Before becoming a Supervisor with Special Events (Cultural Division) for the City of Toronto, Bridget MacIntosh was the Producer of the Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival, and Founding Producer of The Next Stage Festival. This made Bridget the ideal person to sit down with Gideon Arthurs, newly minted Executive Director of The Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival, to have some beers and hear what’s new with The Fringe.

BRIDGET: So I hear January is the new July Gid. Tell me what what’s up?

GIDEON: Everything. I mean everything. I have a new life-affirming/hopelessness-inducing task management system that reminds me that there is simply just no more time for anything. Mostly, that list is filled with the final details and prep for the Next Stage Theatre Festival (Jan 7-18!!!!) There are also one or two notes about the impending final gasping collapse of the world economy and the ensuing disappearance of arts’ funding in Canada and what extreme contingencies we’ll have to roll out if/when that happens. Also, I need to polish my boots before the festival starts and buy brown sugar.

BRIDGET: I made some brown sugar fudge over the holidays. Always good to have brown sugar nearby… but really I can’t believe it’s already time for Next Stage. I still have these moments where I think back and am like, “Wow! Did that really happen?” As the second instalment of Next Stage begins, just what kind of festival do you think you’ve inherited with Next Stage?

GIDEON: A fresh, full of potential, important festival. A festival that is a new, but deeply pure and true, incarnation of the Fringe’s principles. A brave, crazy one too – mid-January, a tent, no lottery… what the hell were you thinking? On a personal level, I’ve felt that NSTF has also afforded me the greatest sense of possession since I started at the Fringe almost a year ago. It’s been harder to understand and personally affect the massive beast that is our summer festival. With 20 years of institutional structure behind it, I sometimes wonder who the hell I am to try and improve it… But with NSTF being so young, and so full of potential for growth and creative input, I have a real view about what this festival can become, and how our team can make that view a reality.

BRIDGET: I know you know my thoughts on this but how do you think the Next Stage fits into the overall role of the Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival?

GIDEON: I think it fits perfectly – more than an extension of what we do, it’s an evolution that makes sense. After 20 years, the Fringe is really in a place to claim its leadership role and continue to represent our constituents in new and innovative ways. Sometimes, talk like this frustrates me, but I find myself saying over and over again “Why don’t they know!? We’re at 58,000+ in attendance, we’ve given out $4 million over twenty years to thousands of artists, we employ over 100 people a year, we’re spread out to 30 different venues, we were the launching pad for the two most successful productions in Canadian Theatre… why aren’t you taking us seriously!!??” With Next Stage I honestly believe we’ve shown that we’re responsive and capable of growth, and therefore more “serious”, more confident, more capable. My hope over the next few years is to see the Fringe become THE voice for emerging and independent arts, a nexus of creative voices that cumulatively are stronger and louder than when alone, and who’s ranks include artists AND patrons as advocates for culture in our city.


In Naval terms, Next Stage is the Cruiser to the Fringe’s Battleship.

BRIDGET: Or in bad 80’s movie terms, the Goose to the Fringe’s Maverick?

GIDEON: (silence)

BRIDGET: (silence)

BRIDGET: Next Stage is such a huge step in the evolution of the Fringe. With such a dynamic festival so you have any particular hopes or goals for the Next Stage over the next few years?

GIDEON: I’m trying hard in this yuletide season to only make qualitative goals, but I can’t help getting a little quantitative right now. Goal 1 – more people, more people watching plays, more plays made successes, more art-time for artists, more money for artists, more acclaim for the festival and participants, more patrons who can’t stop talking about the festival. More. Goal 2 – better operations, better funding, better understanding of what goes into making art by commenters on newspaper websites, better opportunities for our artists . . . better.

BRIDGET: Hey, you’re also coming up on your first year anniversary at the Fringe and we’ve still been playing tag with meeting up for steak. Although having beers and talking about theatre are great, just when is this meet for steak thing going to happen?

GIDEON: 2016

BRIDGET: (silence)

GIDEON: You know, my Mum’s flank steak was always my favourite, but it takes too long to marinate so I never make it.

BRIDGET: Any other challenges you’d like to talk about?

GIDEON: This job has truly been the challenge of a lifetime. In my four year plan, year 1 is labelled “Survival”. One of the major issues, that I think many of us in the arts face, is that there is infinite work to do. There is no ceiling, no control, and achievements are intangible – it’s that old “bringing back a 96% on a test and your parents asking you where the other 4% went”. No matter how many people come to the festival, no matter how much money we raise, there’s always more. No matter how many new programs we implement, we could implement more of them or make them bigger…The only limit is the exhaustion line, and when my wife tells me to come home. The first 48 hours of the ’08 Festival were possibly the worst 48 hours of my life. I was in so far above my head, I can’t even really remember what happened after we discovered that our ticketing software had crashed opening morning and none of our walkie-talkies worked.

BRIDGET: I once burned myself on a faulty festival cell phone.

GIDEON: (silence)

BRIDGET: I’m a *bit* biased here but I’ve always felt that the Fringe senior staff have been, and I’m sure continue to be, one of the finest festival staffs you can find. Graciousness aside, now, between you and me….if your entire Fringe senior staff were a street gang, how would you describe their individual fighting styles and who would come out on top if pitted against one another in a death match? I’m just saying, it’s like I’ve though about this before or anything.

GIDEON: We tried to arrange this one fight once with SummerWorks but we would have had to lend them our weapons and several of our staff, so it didn’t seem worthwhile. I see my staff/gang as more of a post-apocalypse urban gang than dance flick or 80’s gang. Paula “Silent and Violent” Forst, our Producer, is definitely the muscle – I’d say she’d do well with two giant mallets for some crashing and smashing. Adam “Grasshopper” Kirkham, our fundraiser, is quick on his feet and packs a wallop with a sock full of dimes. Lindsey “Voluntold” Clark, doing our volunteer coordinating, doesn’t engage in hand to hand herself but commandeers a legion of blood-thirsty volunteers to do her fighting for her. And then there’s the techs and box office staff, who to be honest will do anything for beer…They’re the group that shows up just when it looks like we’re outmuscled in a fight… the cavalry if you will. When push comes to shove though I’d have to say I would win in a fight against all of them, only because I’m an expert at driving people into a blind rage that allows me to take advantage of their weaknesses.

BRIDGET: Nicely played there buddy.

GIDEON: That blind rage stuff though. It’s true.

BRIDGET: Hey since we’re not doing the steak thing for a while, might as well tell me what you’re doing in the meantime. I hear that there are some new activities afoot? Do tell.

GIDEON: I’m incredibly excited about what we’re calling our new “initiatives”. We’re hoping to make official announcements soon, but they go as follows:

The Fringe Evolution Fund – to encourage remounts of successful Fringe shows, we’ll be giving out grants to help cover production costs for Fringe shows re-produced by the original company within five years of first appearing at the Toronto Fringe. We’re hoping to be able to give out as much as $10,000 within three years.

The Charrettes – inspired by design salons of the 19th century, this is a series of five meetings with relevant stakeholders to propose solutions to problems facing the performance community. Our first Charrette, about the shortage of rehearsal and performance space for small companies was a great success. Our next one is about adapting fundraising techniques for larger institutions to suit small companies… stay tuned for details.

Office Residencies -we have all the resources in place to welcome small into our offices during our down periods, to help bring their producing out of their kitchens and into a creative hub with other arts administrators.
OTICs (Online Ticketing for Independent Companies) – we’re offering subsidized access to our new online ticketing systems for small companies.

The Fringe/Paprika Festival Partnership – we’ll be working with the Paprika festival to make sure their youth get out to the Fringe as well as inviting one production to perform at the Fringe in 2009

BRIDGET: Love it. I think its important to get he word out about programs like these. To that end, this will eventually end up on a theatre blog. Any random thoughts on theatre blogs?

GIDEON: Isn’t the internet going to save theatre? Sometimes, I think we want to think that because the internet’s cheaper than everything else and is all we have… Now excuse me, I have to check my Facebook… for professional reasons.

BRIDGET: Oh yeah, sure no problem.


BRIDGET: Poked a lot?

GIDEON: (silence)

BRIDGET: Well Gid, thanks for the chat. Any words of wisdom to end off on? Any overall posits in the state of the performing arts?

GIDEON: I keep on trying to come up with different ways of saying this that don’t make me sound like I’m commoditising the creative process, but I give in. Money. Money is the challenge of the moment, not because money makes good art, and certainly not because we make art for money, but because without funding we are forced into impossible, un-artistic situations. I’m very afraid of what sort of art will be made when what seems to be brewing in arts funding comes to pass…