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

Civil Debates

Photo by Han Soete via Creative Commons

Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre present
March 15, April 1, June 18 2013. Doors at 7pm; debates at 7.30pm
The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West
Admission: PWYC

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 three debates were curated via a gallery installation January 12 and 13 at The Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre.

A dual system was 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 were posted to topics like: Theatre, Politics, The City, and Whatever. There was also be the opportunity to suggest who you think would be a great debater.

The goal was to emerge with three 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 March, April and June 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.We

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.

* For #CivilDebate 3: Idle No More we opted out of the Parliamentary Model. 

The Resolutions

We collected more that 100 suggestions for debate topics at The Next Stage Festival in January

We collected more that 100 suggestions for debate topics at The Next Stage Festival in January

After receiving over 100 suggestions for debate topics as well as a slew of suggestions for debaters through our interactive installation at The Next Stage Festival, Praxis Theatre and The Theatre Centre have distilled three resolutions to be tackled at the first three Civil Debates.

Each of these topics were suggested multiple times through the installation, have already received significant online debate, and have the potential to create reasonable arguments for and against the resolution:

March 15, 2013

#1: Creative Cities

Be it resolved that the Creative Cities theories serve to reinforce dominant class structures.

April 1, 2013            

#2: Arts Boards

Be it resolved that Boards of Directors have the right and responsibility to overrule the Artistic Direction of a theatre company.

June 18, 2013

#3: Idle No More

The issues that created the Idle No More movement require extreme methods to achieve change.

2013-01-13 21.53.27de·bate, noun. /dɪˈbeɪt/

— a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.

ci·vil, adj. /ˈsɪv(ə)l, -ɪl/

— relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns.

— courteous and polite.

Oxford Dictionary

The speakers for each debate will be announced in advance on and If you would like to debate a particular topic, email with why in less than 100 words. If selected, debaters are paid a $50 honorarium.

Live tweetcasts will be available for each debate, along with blog posts and social media sharing to facilitate further discussion.  Civil Debates use the Canadian parliamentary debate model:  2 speakers on each side, strict time allotments, moderated exchange and conclude with a vote Yay or Nay. Audience members will be given the opportunity to participate, but it is not required

Collecting Debate Topics