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

Category: You Should Have Stayed Home

November 17, 2013, by

On Monday Dec 18 all 308 MPs will receive this invitation.

On Monday Dec 18 all 308 Members of Parliament will receive this invitation. CLICK TO ENLARGE

After 34 acclaimed performances of You Should Have Stayed Home in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, we conclude our tour in Ottawa on November 20th. It is our hope some of our nation’s elected representatives will join us onstage on opening night.

The production will have a reception on Parliament Hill, the same day as this performance. We are extremely grateful to The Honourable Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport, for organizing this event where MPs of all stripes can meet us and discuss the opportunity.

Reception for You Should Have Stayed Home on Parliament Hill

3pm-4pm Wednesday November 20th, 2013.

Centre Block: Room 601

Winner of The SummerWorks Arts Professional Award

Reviews: NOW MagazineGeorgia Straight 

Hundreds of Canadians have already stood up for civil liberties in a safe and creative way by participating in a short scene in the middle of the show. Before each performance we’ve led a discussion about Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how it’s been significantly weakened by G20 Toronto — a period Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin called, “The most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.

We hope Members of Parliament will be inspired by this level of engagement by  ordinary citizens across Canada, and also stand up for civil liberties.

We have already confirmed participation by a few MPs, and we’re hoping for more. We’re encouraging MPs from all political parties to join us. Civil liberties are not a partisan issue. Everyone from libertarians, to socialists, to all of those in between, can find rare common ground on this subject. This important consensus can be communicated theatrically.

If you are an MP:

Please get in touch by email:

If you are not an MP, but live in Ottawa and would like to join us onstage:

Please get in touch by email:

If you are not an MP, but you would like to see your MP participate:

Please send them this post. If you tweet to them, be sure to use #G20Romp. Also, be sure to be nice.

Consider sharing this post on Facebook or whatever other social network you use.

Only through real momentum will we fully realize this goal.  We are so darn close and we need your help.

October 18, 2013, by

Tommy Taylor interviewed about You Should Have Stayed Home: A #G20Romp on The Rush

Click here to buy tickets.

Click here to buy tickets.

*50% of tickets for 2pm shows are reserved for Pay What You Can at the door.

Toronto, Ontario: Aki Theatre, 585 Dundas St. E. Phone: 416 531 1402:

Thu October 17, 2013 @ 8pm (Preview); Fri October 18, 2013 @ 8pm (Opening); Sat October 19, 2013 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun October 20, 2013 @ 2pm;

Tue October 22, 2013 @ 8pm; Wed October 23, 2013 @ 8pm; Thu October 24, 2013 @ 8pm; Fri October 25, 2013 @ 8pm; Sat October 26, 2013 @ 2pm & 8pm

October 16, 2013, by

I've created some G20 Postcards with images dropped in from Toronto's G20 on pictures of beautiful Brisbane.

I’ve created some special G20 Postcards with images from Toronto’s G20 Summit dropped into pictures of you, beautiful Brisbane. Although, looks like you’re well on your way to creating your own memories.

Hey Brisbane. So I heard the news that you are getting your own G20 Summit Meeting next November. Well, I had the G20 come to my home, Toronto, back in 2010 so I thought I’d give my fellow Commonwealthers a heads up. Particularly when I hear Queensland premier Campbell Newman say “What we don’t want is the scenes that have blighted other cities such as Toronto…” Which is a statement I agree with, but then why is he planning the Brisbane G20 in the exact same way? (I should mention now that I was unlawfully arrested, never charged, in a mass arrest during the Toronto G20).

The debate is already on about the Queensland Government’s proposed G20 Safety and Security Bill (and it won’t just affect Brisbane’s horde of Zombies). Here are some facts on how the security plans in play for you, Brisbane, worked out for us in Toronto.

(SPOILER ALERT: It ends up being “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.”)

1. Expanded Police Powers

Under the new security bill, security forces (made up of police forces from across the Commonwealth, including New Zealand and Canada) will have expanded powers during the Summit. Inside the G20 Exclusion Zone, officers can arbitrarily perform pat-downs or strip searches on anyone, hold suspected agitators in detention for the duration of the summit, ban common items such as eggs, cans and hand tools. Police will also be allowed to publish the names and photographs of anyone they decide should be prohibited from entering The Zone.

In Toronto we had many similar laws in play, including a much-scorned secret law passed without proper notice. The results? Well, as the official investigation into policing at the Toronto G20 Summit found, it was goddamn terrible. Not so much because of the vandalism to cars and windows by 75-100 people (who the police were ordered not to engage with for some reason), but because of what happened to people.

With 20,000 militarized police officers in downtown Toronto there were multiple cases of excessive force used by police resulting in serious injury, and over 1,100 people arrested in Canada’s largest mass arrest (over 900 were never charged). Hundreds of people were unlawfully kettled in by riot officers, sometimes for hours in the pouring rain and many more were subjected to arbitrary stop and searches by officers. There were 334 strip searches (but only proper documentation on 281 cases). Many of the the “weapons” seized by police had nothing to do with G20 (including toys belonging to a fantasy role-player). By all measures, an utter mess.


2. Three Day Detention

Part of the bill would allow police to arrest and detain anyone they deem a threat for three days. In jail. Without bail. Items that could deem you a threat? Eggs, cans of beans, model airplanes, surfboards, and reptiles. Yes, reptiles. Some folks right there in Queensland are already trying to give you a heads up on this one. They note that innocent people will likely be arrested and Brisbane actually doesn’t have enough room to house large numbers of detainees.

Here in Toronto, similar tactics got us 1,100 people arrested and sent to a temporary detention centre built inside a movie studio. Protesters, bystanders, tourists, journalists and even a transit worker were swept up in the mass arrests. Most were held in atrocious conditions and Queer prisoners were segregated into their own cells. This stands as one of the most vile failures of the police during the Toronto G20 for a number of reasons.

3. “It’s Great for the Local Economy!”

There seems to be an ongoing campaign foretelling of the riches G20 will be bring to Brisbane. Many Brisbane shop owners are starting to grow concerned however about the shut-down and elimination of consumer foot traffic.

The cost of the Toronto G20 Summit ballooned to a ludicrous 1.1billion, a huge chunk of it being the security budget. Local Toronto businesses reported record losses and had to fight the Federal Government tooth-and-nail for partial compensation for damages and revenue lost. It was, however, a huge payday for the police who also held onto many of their new toys and surveillance cameras.


4. Aftermath

After millions of dollars and years of investigations, here is what I can tell you: Everything that is being planned for you, Brisbane, has brought misery to every city before you: London, Pittsburgh, Toronto.

Finding accountability and justice over the past 3 years for policing crimes at the Toronto G20 Summit has been a demented joke. From our Mayor rolling over, to only ONE officer being handed a criminal conviction, it’s been a farce.

Right now I’m on a cross-country tour of Canada, sharing my G20 story with my fellow Canadians. On the first stop of the tour, way up in the Yukon Territory, I read about what’s being being cooked up for you Brisbane, and felt I had to share these facts with you.

However, you may want to hear more from Queensland Council for Civil Liberties President Michael Cope, who had this to say about policing powers in Toronto for the G20: “According to the systemic review report they had the power to in effect remove anybody and search anybody without any suspicion whatsoever unlike this legislation, so they had extraordinary powers, which didn’t stop this.”

Good people of Brisbane, one final time – heads up.

October 14, 2013, by

Culture Vulture’ David C. Jones joined the show in Vancouver and talked to Tommy Taylor about the experience.

Hey Toronto,

Read an interview with J. Kelly Nestruck and Director Michael Wheeler

Click to read J. Kelly Nestruck’s interview with Director Michael Wheeler

We want you to be in our play. Every performance of You Should Have Stayed Home requires a cast to join Tommy Taylor onstage for 12 minutes when the narrative arrives at The Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

We have done this scene in many ways with over 150 participants total in Toronto (SummerWorks 2011), Whitehorse  and Vancouver. The number of participants has varied from 15 – 40 over the course of these three runs. The scene always works, but emphasizes different elements depending on who and how many people participate on a given day.

We have had old cages, young young cages, mostly female, mostly male, sometimes packed, sometimes with enough room for each participant to sculpt their positions more precisely.

Each show happens with the people from the community it performs in who have chosen to participate on a given day. It is the social justice-influenced performative chaos theory that keeps our one-man show distinctly different and alive every night. We want you to join it.

How to participate in the show:

Click to read Glenn Sumi's interview with Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor

Click to read Glenn Sumi’s interview with Playwright/Performer Tommy Taylor

To join the production, send an email to

Let us know when you are available and would like to be part of the show. Do one show or do every show. People who do more than one show get a ticket to the show. People who do more than five get two tickets. The show runs from Oct 17-26.

Daily Rehearsals: Every time there is a show there is a ‘detainee’ rehearsal one hour before – 1pm for 2pm performances and 7pm for 8pm performances. At these rehearsals we’ll walk you through the 6 things you have to do – no acting experience required. Basically you have to be yourself if you had been swept up in a mass arrest: stand, sit, yell for water and play a volleyball type game. We have done this 25 times now. There is a safe, clear, fun system in place.

Want to see the show first? All detainee performers are welcome/encouraged to attend our dress rehearsal at The Aki Theatre on Wednesday October 16 from 7pm – 10pm. You can see the production and also learn what you have to do all in one 3-hour session.

Why participate? Every person who performs in the play is another voice that has stood up for basic Charter Rights that are in jeopardy in Canada. We think this matters, and hope you will too.

Click to read the review of You Should Have Stayed Home by Colin Thomas

Click to read the review of You Should Have Stayed Home by Colin Thomas

September 27, 2013, by

Watch the above video to hear from CCLA’s Abby Deshman Director, Public Safety Program on G20 Toronto, policing at protests and You Should Have Stayed Home.

Praxis Theatre is thrilled and honoured to be partnering with The Canadian Civil Liberties Association throughout our National Tour of You Should Have Stayed Home, written and performed by Tommy Taylor.

The CCLA has messaged members through email and social media encouraging participation in staging the play, and has partnered with us to create panel discussions on broader issues facing civil liberties in several of the cities we are travelling to.

The first of these panels will take place in Vancouver at The Firehall Arts Centre after the October 3rd 8pm performance.

Praxis will be livetweeting the discussion via the #G20Romp Hashtag: Edited Logo with text Civil Liberties, Activism and Surveillance:

Moderated by: Neworld Theatre Founding Artistic Producer Camyar Chai

About the Panelists

Micheal-Vonn-colourMicheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association since 2004.  She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics.

She is a regular guest instructor for UBC’s College of Health Disciplines Interdisciplinary Elective in HIV/AIDS Care and was honoured as a recipient of the 2010 AccolAIDS award for social and political advocacy benefitting communities affected by HIV/AIDS.  Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech.  She is an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International.

Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. She has been active in grassroots social movements for over a decade, including with No One Is Illegal, Women’s Memorial March Committee for Missing and Murdered Women, Radical Desis and more.

She was one of the many leading up to both the Anti-Olympics Convergence and the G20 Protests in 2010, facing arrests and trumped charges at both. Harsha has been named one of the most influential South Asians in BC by the Vancouver Sun and Naomi Klein has called Harsha “one of Canada’s most brilliant and effective political organizers.” Her first book Undoing Border Imperialism is forthcoming in November 2013 by AK Press. Find her @HarshaWalia.

Greg McMullenGreg McMullen is a litigation associate with Branch MacMaster. He focuses on class action work concerning privacy and access to information. Greg was one of the organizers of the BCCLA’s Legal Observer Program during the 2010 Winter Olympics, which trained more than 400 citizen-observers to record police interactions with the public (and especially with protesters) during the 2010 Games..

He is also on the Board of Directors of the BC Civil Liberties Association, and authored the BCCLA’s Electronic Devices Privacy Handbook.

IMG_2014Tommy Taylor is a theatre artist, activist and NGO fundraiser living in Toronto. Recently Tommy was assistant director/video designer on The Belle of Winnipeg (Dora Winner), adaptor/director of Dear Everybody at the CanStage Festival of Ideas and Creation and director of Kayak at The SummerWorks Festival. He is a graduate of the Centre for Cultural Management (University of Waterloo/ CCCO), The Vancouver Film School and Humber College’s Community Arts Development Program.

Tommy was arrested (but never charged) and detained during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. He has since turned his account of the experience into You Should Have Stayed Home. The show is on a cross-Canada tour for Fall 2013, playing in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

September 18, 2013, by

The #G20Romp team in Carcross Desert - the smallest desert in the world, Yukon

The #G20Romp team in Carcross Desert – the smallest desert in the world, Yukon

by Aislinn Rose

We’ve just arrived in Vancouver from Whitehorse, after an incredible week touring our #G20Romp, You Should Have Stayed Home, to The Yukon.

I have to admit we were all a bit nervous about whether we would find enough detainees from the Whitehorse population to join Tommy in his cage during a pivotal scene in the show. I’m happy to report we had am amazing turnout of over 50 participants over the course of 4 shows, many of whom participated in several, or even all of our performances at The Yukon Arts Centre. With daily rehearsals before each performance, we were able to incorporate new participants for each show, including audience members who felt compelled to take part after hearing Tommy’s story.

Many thanks to the participants of Whitehorse:

Kim Hawkins, Josh Regnier, Zoe Verhees. Liza, Donald Watt, Lianne Maitland, Mallory Pigage, Jeccyka Brown, Mathew Guimond, Brian Fidler, Luc Laferte, Jim Gilpin, Simon Lacombe, Hazel Venzon, Jeff Nordlund, Jennifer Solomon, Katherine Alexander, Linda Leon, Jess Macdaniel, Simon, Maureen Conway, Mary Simon, Shauna Jones, Sarah Johnston, Kate Andre, Lee Ash, Mayuko, Kim Beggs, Ryan McCallion, Marlene Walde, Todd Vanderlinden, Moira Sauer, Conrad Bishop, Sally Wright, JP Pinard, Tracy Allard, The Wheeler family from Dawson City, Matt Guimond, Bianca Martin, Carly & Ashley, David Skelton, Colleen Segriff, and the students from the Music, Art & Drama (M.A.D) program: Danielle, Kat, Sana, Megan, Kestral, Mary, Tory, Kylee, Loughlan, Claire, Caitlyn, and Brooke, and anyone else we may have missed.

Big thanks to our Toronto-based participant coordinator Scott Dermody for helping to make all this happen.

A major thank you is also owed to YAC Artistic Director Eric Epstein and Associate Artist Erin Corbett of the Yukon Arts Centre, who were incredible hosts and truly went above and beyond to make the show a success.

Having demonstrated many superhero skills over the week, Erin even looked after the children of some of our detainees one night to ensure the Wheelers of Dawson City could participate in the show. We were also thrilled to have Eric join the show as a detainee not once, but twice during the run. This tour would not have been possible without our first invitation from Eric Epstein after he saw our original production at SummerWorks in 2011.

Of course, while we were in The Yukon, it was a mix of work, rehearsals, performances, travel, and planning for the other stops on our tour. We each took photos as we made our way, and we’d like to share some of our favourites with you here:

We’re looking forward to our weeks ahead in Vancouver at The Firehall Arts Centre, before we head back for a Toronto run and then Montreal and Ottawa. We can still use your help to make this entire tour possible. Check out our Indie Go Go campaign here to make a $10 donation. Every $10 helps!

Click here for tickets in Vancouver.

September 3, 2013, by


Click to Enlarge

Praxis Theatre is thrilled to announce their upcoming presentations of You Should Have Stayed Home, the staged adaptation of Tommy Taylor’s viral Facebook note, How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto. The show is a one-man piece of storytelling in the tradition of Spalding Gray, as Taylor recounts 48 hours in his life as a citizen on the streets and eventually caged in the detention centre.


Part-way through the narrative, there is a scene that incorporates up to 25 participants that can be played by actors and non-actors when the action arrives at a cell in the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

In order to incorporate each community on every leg of the tour, Praxis is proud to be working with the support of the Canadian Civil Liberties AssociationCouncil of Canadians and Amnesty International Canada’s Community Groups, Action Circles and Youth Activism branches, who are putting calls out for participants in each of the cities we visit.

Participants only need to attend one or two short rehearsals and as many performances as can be accommodated by their schedules.

JOIN THE SHOW: Email for more information.

YSHSH-WEBPosterv2You Should Have Stayed Home is a play about Tommy Taylor’s experience over 48 hours at the 2010 G20 in Toronto. While trying to return home from his first ever protest as a law-abiding citizen at the “Free Speech Zone” at Queen’s Park, Taylor was swept up in a mass arrest, caged with 40 other people in a ten foot by twenty foot cage and denied drinking water until he passed out from dehydration.

Taylor’s Facebook note, How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto went viral in 2010 and has since been translated into seven languages and appeared in twenty-one countries – a detailed, frightening and often funny account of the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Tommy’s story has been covered by national and international media, including a Gemini-nominated CBC documentary named after the production.

After winning the largest cash award at the 2011 SummerWorks Festival, and becoming one of the festival’s highest grossing shows, Praxis Theatre is about to embark on its largest project ever: a cross-Canada tour to Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.


You Should Have Stayed Home Web Image



September 12 to 15, 2013


September 24 to October 5, 2013


October 16 to 26, 2013


October 30 to November 2, 2013


November 20 to 23, 2013

July 13, 2012, by

ANTIGONE - Photo by Scarlet O'Neill

by Sarah Thorpe

It’s been interesting being involved in two separate productions that both dealt with Toronto’s G20 Summit. In You Should Have Stayed Home (Praxis Theatre and The Original Norwegian, Summerworks 2011), the production focused on the experience of the innocent victims – just some of the nearly 1000 people arrested & detained that weekend. In ANTIGONE (Soup Can Theatre, Toronto Fringe 2012), the Greek drama now set in Toronto during that summer of 2010, two sides of the conflict are explored: the authority figure trying to maintain order and civil obedience, and those who rebel for the sake of honour.

You Should Have Stayed Home gave the audience a glimpse into how those who were arrested and detained were brutally treated by the police, and how appalling the detainment centres were – unsanitary, cramped, and horribly disorganized; all of this coming from Tommy Taylor’s first hand account. Tommy had been standing near the protestors at the Novotel Hotel, and was swept up in the mass arrests and thrown into a cage overflowing with other men. While many police officers yelled at and mocked their ‘prisoners’, others were very sympathetic and knew how wrong this was, detaining people for several hours in makeshift jails with barely any food and water.

Sarah behind & left of Tommy as a G20 detainee - Photo by Will O'Hare

Soup Can’s production of ANTIGONE ties Sophocles’ tragedy with Toronto’s political climate during the G20. The story centres on Antigone, a young Theban woman determined to bury and honour her two brothers, both slain fighting on opposite sides of a senseless war. This act, in violation of an edict put forth by Creon, the iron-willed King of Thebes, forces her to both confront and defy his authority in the name of principle – a brave and noble choice with costly consequences.

Searing images of both the G20 and the Occupy movement are infused into the production, like the Chorus in combat positions, wearing gas masks and brandishing batons, and a chain link fence that serves as a place for protestors to hang their homemade signs, and also as a divide between Antigone and the outside world after she is arrested. Director Scott Dermody’s inspiration for a G20-infused production of the play came to him when he read a newspaper article about a pair of brothers, one a police officer, and the other a G20 protestor, reminding him of Antigone’s two brothers.

Being involved in both YSHSH and ANTIGONE has provided me with an opportunity to explore three different points of view: the bystander, the protestor, and the authority figure. There is still much more that needs to be explored about the G20. A recent Toronto Star article titled “The G20 Summit: Where Are We Now?” (written by staff reporters Jennifer Yang and Jayme Poisson, published June 29th 2012) states that the “Canadian Civil Liberties Association has consistently maintained that only a public inquiry can make sense of the G20 summit and its complex security operation … Instead, Canadians have been given a hodgepodge of disparate reports, reviews and inquiries … Taken as a whole, the reports provide snapshots of the G20 story, but no wide-angle view of the overall picture.”

The G20 will continue to fascinate and anger while more reports and reviews are written, and as investigations develop, I hope to see more artistic pieces develop that explore different facets of the G20 in all their complexities while we hope to eventually get “the overall picture’.

Sarah Thorpe is the Co-Producer of  ANTIGONE at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, and the Artistic Director of Soup Can Theatre. Click here for dates & times of the final three performances of ANTIGONE.

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!

September 13, 2011, by

by Michael Wheeler

“The rich people have their lobbyists and the poor people have their feet.”

Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of Canadian Civil Liberties Association speaking at a post-show panel at after You Should Have Stayed Home at The 2011 SummerWorks Festival.

This summer I directed You Should Have Stayed Home, a play about theatre artist Tommy Taylor’s experience over 48 hours of the G20 weekend in Toronto presented at the 2011 SummerWorks Festival. While trying to return home from his first ever protest as a law-abiding citizen at the “Free Speech Zone” at Queen’s Park, Taylor was swept up in a mass arrest, caged with 40 other people in a 10ft by 20ft cage and denied drinking water until he passed out from dehydration.

Taylor contacted me in February to talk about collaborating on a piece of theatre adapted from his Facebook note, How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto. Having read the post, I knew the story presented an excellent opportunity to dramatize and address the deterioration of civil rights in Canada.

Click the logo to read the rest of the article on