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

Category: Tommy Taylor

April 24, 2012, by

by Michael Wheeler

This winter I worked with editor and activist Brigette DePape to write an article about Praxis Theatre. Titled Creating Political Theatre on The Internet, it looks at a number of projects Praxis has been up to and includes an excerpt by Tommy Taylor from his Facebook note turned theatre piece, You Should Have Stayed Home. It is published in Power of Youth, Youth and Community-Led Activism in Canada.

DePape came into the public eye as the rogue page who interrupted the first throne speech of the Harper Majority Government (elected by a minority of Canadians) with a silent protest holding a STOP HARPER sign.  Since then amongst other activities, she has been busy editing this book published by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and more recently organizing against the unsuccessful Harper-aligned Wildrose surge in Alberta.

Powe of Youth is divided into three sections STOP, SPEAK, and ACT and includes essays and interviews with young activists from across Canada on the work they are engaged in and the ideas informing these movements. The official launch of the book will take place Wednesday May 16 from 5:00-7:00pm at Under One Roof at 251 Bank Street in Ottawa and will include an informal panel about youth activism and challenges and vision for the future.

If you can’t make it to pick up a copy in person, just use the handy order form below!

August 6, 2011, by
1 comment

by Aislinn Rose

Earlier this year I had a conversation on twitter about social media, the arts, and audience development. One of the topics that came up was tweeting during actual performances. Many suggested that twitter didn’t belong in the theatre during a show, thinking it would pull the tweeters out of the performance and distract others in the audience.

When I asked a first-time theatre-goer who had been brought to the theatre via Twitter what she thought, she said tweeting would have made her feel more engaged and that she really wanted to know what other audience members were thinking throughout the show.

While some tweeters said Canadian theatre-makers were woefully behind the times when it comes to integrating social media in their work, some were adamant that tweeting during a show was a bad idea. Having already experimented with a show that incorporated live-texting throughout, I was adamant that it ought to at least be tried.

So here we are with our twitter-friendly performance of You Should Have Stayed Home at SummerWorks. We’re offering dedicated tweet seats, at the back of the audience so as not to be distracting for others, where tweeters can tweet away using our hashtag #G20Romp. All we ask is that you turn off any feature that makes a sound or vibrates, and darken your screens as much as possible – in a dark theatre you don’t really need much light.

Not sure what you’d tweet about? Our hashtag has already been in effect for some time, so here’s some of the conversation we’ve already been having.

Jonah Hundert and Praxis Theatre chat post-opening night:

Jonathan Goldsbie had a few thoughts after opening night as well:

We were pleased to have Davenport MP Andrew Cash join us for opening night and the SummerWorks opening night party after the show:

You Should Have Stayed Home performer/playwright Tommy Taylor with The Honorable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport

You Should Have Stayed Home

2:30pm at The Theatre Centre

Look for the marked tweet seats in the back rows, where you’ll also find the previously mentioned requests about turning off sounds, vibrations, and lowering lights.

Use the hashtag #G20Romp

Buy your tickets here or at the venue.

After the performance, we’ll be wanting to chat some more, both about the show and how you felt about tweeting during the show. Let us know if you met anyone new in the audience because of twitter!

Not a tweeter? Don’t feel left out.

We’re always happy to continue post-show discussions here in the comments of the blog. We welcome and look forward to your feedback.

If you’re not a tweeter but you are interested in this live-tweeting experiment, you can follow the hashtag even without a twitter account by clicking here.

July 7, 2011, by

The production is now seeking for female performers as well!

Click to enlarge

April 20, 2011, by

by Aislinn Rose

Tonight, as part of the Theatre Passe Muraille Buzz Festival, The Original Norwegian and Praxis Theatre will be presenting a 20 minute reading from our new collaboration, You Should Have Stayed Home. After tonight’s reading, the piece will be developed further with a workshop in May, and we are proud to announce that we have been offered an opportunity to present the full piece in August this year as part of the 2011 SummerWorks Festival.

Based on a Facebook note called “How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto, Canada”, You Should Have Stayed Home details how Tommy Taylor experienced the billion dollar G20 in Toronto in the summer of 2010, with the good times including processed cheese slices, condom balloons, and the total dismissal of his civil rights. You can read the entire Facebook note here.

For more information about tonight’s reading at the Buzz Festival, take a moment to RSVP to our Facebook Event. If you’d like more information about the team collaborating on this piece, you might be interested in an earlier Google Chat between the writer Tommy Taylor, and the director Michael Wheeler, which can be found here.

Tommy was also the subject of a 5th Estate Episode, which can be seen in its entirety here. We hope to see some of you at the Buzz Festival tonight, and look forward to receiving feedback on the work. If you can’t attend, but would like to be kept informed about the show as it is developed and presented, send us an email to

The essentials for tonight:
Theatre Passe Muraille
16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto
Come out and support the other great artists showing there work tonight as well!

February 25, 2011, by

“You Should have Stayed Home” the documentary airs tonight on CBC. The play gets workshopped this spring and presented soon after.

by Michael Wheeler

How I Got Arrested and Abused at the G20 in Toronto, is one of the first Facebook notes I can think of that practically everyone I knew had read or had at least heard about. Says a little about the circles I move in, but whatever. I had never met its author, Tommy Taylor, but I knew he was in theatre, and I remember taking a little pride in the fact that the person who had responded most scathingly and appropriately through social media to the G20 debacle was one of us.

So when Tommy contacted me to see if Praxis Theatre would like to collaborate with his company The Original Norwegian to adapt his facebook note for the stage, it only took one beer with him and collaborator Julian DeZotti to ensure we would get along, to jump at the opportunity. As a company dedicated to new works by local artists, many of which have been adaptations, this project made a lot of sense for Praxis Theatre in terms of taking what we do, and pushing it one step further by adapting a html social media document. Throw in that we have heavily leveraged our political and online engagement as a company, and it does seem like an awfully good fit.

To celebrate this new collaboration and I interviewed Tommy on GChat earlier this week.

9:10 PM

me: So what made you choose, “You Should Have Stayed Home” as the name of the piece you have chosen to make about your experience at G20 in Toronto?

9:18 PM

Tommy: The documentary on tonight’s The Fifth Estate on CBC, which I appear in, is also called “You Should Have Stayed Home.”  (So now people have commented online that the CBC is being callous, rude or that they are “a government pawn”.) So, I rung in with: “I called it that because that is what most people said to me afterward.”

The documentary explores what is wrong with that statement–it attempts to see past the sensationalizing of broken windows and burning cars to show the truth of what happened that weekend. “You Should Have Stayed Home” is not the literal or glib title you might think. I was held in detention for 24 hours and it was horrible, but what I found to be more horrifying was the way average Canadians reacted with apathy and indifference… thus “You Should Have Stayed Home”.

9:19 PM

me: When you say commented online – do you mean on your Facebook page or other places?

9:21 PM

Tommy: Oh, the Facebook. That’s where a lot of G20 talk happens. Different groups, my page, other activists’ pages, Dalton McGunity’s page…

9:22 PM

me: So, speaking of Facebook – this is how I heard about your experience. You wrote this 11,000 word Facebook note complete with video and images – want to throw out some other stats about it?

9:25 PM

Tommy: Facebook is how everyone heard about it. Since I published it on Tues. June 29 I have received about 5,000 messages from about 21 countries and it’s been translated into 7 languages by various people. I went from around 300 ‘friends’ to around 1,300.

9:26 PM

me: How long after G20 did you write it and why did you decide to?

9:27 PM

(i also love that we have to qualify statements to clarify that actions were taken by people not computers)

G20 Detention Centre

9:37 PM

Tommy: Well, after I got out of the detention centre on Sunday night around 10pm, I hadn’t slept for 40 hours, was cold, starving, dehydrated, no means to get home, no idea where my girlfriend was and running the whole thing through my mind so I wouldn’t forget. And it was raining (our apartment flooded while we were caged up – amazing end to a wonderful weekend in T.O.). Having made it home, I made phone calls to loved ones, changed my wet socks, made notes on badge numbers, names and times, and I still couldn’t sleep.

I got on the computer very early Monday morning and started typing until I was finished Tuesday morning at 11:07am. And why Facebook? I was never a huge fan of Facebook outside of using it for marketing/promotion theatre-wise, but I just wanted to get this out there as fast as possible and to as many people as possible. I also wanted it to get to people who knew me and would take the time to read it. I was afraid that everyone was just seeing the Yonge street mess and missing the important stories from G20.

9:38 PM

me: Kerouack would like this creative process.

9:40 PM

Tommy: Toronto earthquake to signal the start of G20, a flood to end it. Eat that pathetic fallacy King Lear.

me: So, now you have decided to get your theatre company The Last Norweigan, together with Praxis Theatre to make a play based on your note? Why make a play?

Tommy with wristband and evidence bag wearing a T shirt fraught with irony

Tommy:The Original Norwegian….



9:41 PM

me: I wonder if i will leave that in or not…

9:42 PM

Tommy: Sounds like a Scandinavian take on the Last of the Mohicans

9:43 PM

me: I would rather it was a Scandinavian take on The Last Starfighter

Tommy: Or a Scandavian take on The Last Unicorn.

9:44 PM

That brings us back to the play I think.

9:58 PM

Tommy and Kate went to get slushies and got home a little later than they anticipated.

Tommy: It’s going to be a funny show. After I got out I was angry. Very angry. I did the classic movie angry-guy-punching-a-wall, I was a wee bit broken coming out of there. Then I began to write, began to react in a way that I know how: creating and using humour – that’s how I work through things. Which sounds like lame artsy talk I know, but too bad because it’s true.

Creating a show about the experience was rattling in my head as well, but I needed to write about it first. At the time I wrote that note my friend and theatre cohort Julian DeZotti was away at 1,000 Islands Playhouse. When he finally read about it he got an email to me stating “We’re going to turn this into show! This is outrageous!” and other words of encouragement. Other people said similar things to me about “you gotta make this a play” and in my mind I was saying “I know! I will!”

Then came activism and educating myself on what made G20 possible. There is such a never-ending stream of important causes and information that I got very swept up. It took me about 6 months to react to this as an artist. Which for me, is nuts. I always have my artist hat on for every experience, it’s all fuel for creation – but this got to me on a whole new level. I want to share the insanity of that weekend, why it’s changed me and all the insanity that’s come afterward. A lot of it still makes me laugh. And cry. Laugh-Cry.

me: And so now there is this CBC doc coming out about G20 that you appear prominently in and is named after the piece of theatre you have chosen to make about it. This is pretty good press for a show that hasn’t been made yet when and where can people check it out?

10:17 PM

Tommy: The CBC doc is Fri. Feb 25th at 9pm. The Facebook note went viral and my story appeared a lot of places (online, print, TV). I wound up speaking at a number of rallies (in fact, I got engaged to my beautiful girlfriend and fellow detainee Kate on the Canada Day Rally the week after G20) and I kind of became popular in the world of G20 Toronto.

Lets get engaged!

(Quick note – the CBC website for the doc already has 23 comments and it hasn’t even aired. Here’s a user comment: “as of now it is well established beyond any doubt that all those so called protesters were ‘Bandits In Disguise’ out to achieve their sole objective of creating mayhem and spreading chaos”)

10:19 PM

me: Oh yeah – you and your fiancee Kate got engaged right after this all went down. So really this both is a comedy and a love story then.

10:21 PM

Tommy: Aren’t all love stories comedies, Michael?

me: Fair. Would you take a pic of yourself with your computer for the top of the post?

This spring we will be holding a 3-day workshop of You Should Have Stayed Home, culminating in a public reading of some sort on the final evening. Stay tuned to this website and here for more details.

We hope to see you there and get feedback on what the heck should and should not be in this piece of theatre. We are going to move fast on this one as a three-year workshop process isn’t going to be useful to anyone.