3 non-linear phases

[Context note: Written in the summer of 2020 – early months of COVID 19 and a “racial reckoning” sparked by the murder of George Floyd in the USA and the confirmation of mass graves of children at Canadian residential schools.] Sparking, collecting, sharing. In the “shock” of the new perspective, we come to understand our […]

I don’t actually want Batman.

A day after reaction to the Summerworks Shoptalk debate from August 14. There were other triggers as well, but I think those will be integrated into later posts. There’s a fantasy about the rich guy (and sometimes his friends) with the great heart, skills and all the best toys who protects the rest of us […]

Otherwise it’s not a change.

I just returned from participating in a meeting convened by the Edmonton Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council that had fifty of us discussing the future of arts research, advocacy and topics spreading out from there. It’s the beginning of a conversation. Here are the notes I spoke from. Who has a relevant voice […]

Story Structures for Learning Creative Learning

As part of MIT’s free online course on Creative Learning that I’m taking, they assigned us to learn something and teach something to the online community. After taking a helpful Project Management 101, I decided to give a Freemind talk on Story Structures in a way that could be useful for people across a broad spectrum of backgrounds.

Adding Desire to the Viewpoints.

I’ve started regular idiosyncratic Viewpoint workshops. More hereWhat follows is some thoughts on the nature of those idiosyncrasies. Overlie included “Emotion” and Bogart took it out.1 And I’ve been missing something, in the eyes and at the fingers. In the centre and in the lips. Objective, intention and action are all words that might try to […]

The right blend: formal/informal learning

Without form, I have no space for the informal. I’m looking for a fluid space where slipping from craftsperson to hacker to philosopher to entertainer and back again is possible. Very formal structures help me avoid the anomic paralysis produced by the gap between the “infinite becoming” of what is possible and my clearly finite human nature.

Artist as Producer pt3

The problem with DIY is the singularity of “yourself.” Theatre has never been an individual pursuit for me – it’s been an excuse, a need and a generator of working with other people to get something done. This means artistic collaborators, advocates and advisors, producers, teachers, and (very important) audience. All of these people invoke […]

Other people’s podcast

After a “podluck” at the Academy of the Impossible on Thursday, I am inspired to share my podcast list – partly because I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts and sometimes people ask and so other people might be interested – and partly because I would like to know if there are any […]

Maker – Artist as Producer Pt 2

I’ve been thinking about maker culture and theatre lately. Briefly – “Maker” gets used to describe a hacker/DIY culture that values getting involved in building tech and stuff from the ground up (see: Wikipedia, CBC’s Spark.) There’s a leaning towards digital, robots and 3D printing, but I might toss in the resurgence of craft and […]

2012 Open letter…

As we prepare to sing songs from 3penny together, an event that warms my heart every year, I want to share an open letter to the collaborators and supporters of Small Wooden Shoe.It is bolder in tone and more forthright than my Cape Breton upbringing usually feels comfortable with – but it is all also honest and true.  […]

Artist as Producer Part 1

The first in a series of posts I’ve wanted to do for quite awhile – a post-internet, probably more mangled with logistical concerns, response to Walter Benjamin’s Author as ProducerSheila Heti’s Back to the World post on artists talking art is worth a read (click here), but a useful sample to start us off is: […]

Notes on “casual” performance.

Recently I was asked for some thoughts and red flags for moments of “casual” performance and audience interaction. This is a slightly edited version of what I wrote, in case it can be of use to anyone else. First, I mostly try to replace “casual” with “conversational” these days, since there’s little about casual about […]

“Contemporary theatre” and storytelling.

This is a long removed continuation of the conversation with Holger. But takes no account of the comments section which looks really good, but editing this post is more procrastination than I can afford. For the other ways I deal with theses questions: – Please join us at Koerner Hall any time (come and go) […]

To talk about depression.

I read Jacob Wren’s post on the day I woke up feeling it and wondered about writing about it. About why I don’t. I take two little pills a day and go see someone twice a week. I try to routinize my mornings and to exercise as part of that. I look for mindfulness training […]

On absolutely silly shit

One of the troubles of Dedicated to the Revolutions (and maybe many Small Wooden Shoe projects) was reconciling some of the big idea thinking with the often absurd, stupid and/or plain silly stuff that happens on stage. But in this trouble is something important to me – part of the big idea itself. A goal […]

Attention and behaviour in the theatre

Some recent (slightly cranky) thoughts on attention and good audience behaviour: Be interesting enough to take photos of and record If the person next to me taking photo is more interesting or too distracting compared to what is on stage – that’s the performances problem not the audience members. That person is a fan – […]

Playing the conditions

“The fundamental challenge remains: How can you foster both a deep and applied understanding of how things currently get done in a professional field, while also deeply questioning those standards of practice?” — Traditions of the calling – The Artful Manager Can we both “play the condition” and work to change those conditions? It’s a […]

Difference if not Contention

In Toronto Theatre: Five Points of Contention Holger Syme raises a lot of good questions and makes his arguments in a clear way. There are things I agree with and things I don’t — but thanks so much to Holger for bringing them out in a non-hysterical mode that allows for generous disagreement. Below I go […]

Talking about Generation

Working on Antigone – I’m aware that generation divides have a long history in the western world and in the theatre. [Patti Smith Video] That children desperately want distance and difference from their parents is so engrained in modern western thought as to be cliché when spoken aloud. The field of psychoanalysis is built around […]

“When they call us snobs…”

“…they’re not wrong” Funny, Catchy and Not Too Challenging, or “At some point, you’re just an elitist f*ck.”: “…Which got me thinking about snobbery […] I’ve got to say that, for me, those middlebrow shows form a disturbingly large portion of my early memorable theatrical experiences—42nd Street, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables. If I had to […]

On Anonymity on stage

“The problem is not, fundamentally, to get people to slow down, or to move without being toxic to their environment. The problem is to make people aware that anonymity is as toxic to the ecology of heart as hydrocarbons are toxic to the atmosphere. The problem is how to restore intimacy, curiosity, trust, and play […]

Bogart on Storytelling

The fear is that it is “natural conservatism of age.” But I am certainly thinking along similar lines: Anne Bogart: “As a theater director and a child of postmodernism, during most of my career I avoided the charge of storytelling.  I was more interested in subverting stories, turning them on their head, reversing them, twisting […]

Better Questions on Populism

I had the honour of being the first Toronto Fringe Festival Research Chair – part of the amazing work that Gideon and the people at the Fringe are doing to support the theatre scene year round in the city, including the new and exciting Creation Lab (I’ll be at the Open Jam tomorrow – maybe […]

Some thoughts on Realism

Brendan Gall during rehearsals for Galileo. thanks to Sky Gilbert for prompting me to write this by thinking I had written it before. It is something I’ve been thinking about performing again in Perhaps in a Hundred Years. *** “Realism” in theatre is often used to mean “realistic portrayal” – a style of acting in […]

To talk about genres

I like genre pieces. which shouldn’t be surprising. I learned to read and imagine in the worlds of pulp fantasy and slightly better science fiction. Even now, when I read fiction, it is usually some clear genre – sci-fi and fantasy have been joined by mysteries (the harder boiled the better), spy novels and historical […]

We get to choose what to talk about.

There are more interesting things to talk about. Part of the problem with the side bar to the article on Peggy Baker that people are talking about, is that it deflects from some of the very important and difficult things about gender and dance production that Baker raises. Baker made a point in her speech […]

5. Good fun is worth leaving the house for.

part of a series (never said it was going to be in order.) 5_There is good and bad fun. Good fun is essential. To get it out of the way: Bad fun includes (but may not be limited to): fun that re-enforces, re-enacts or otherwise supports existing oppressive, mean and otherwise shitty power dynamics. Good […]

“Why would someone want to work with you?”

Mission Paradox is rolling out a bunch of big questions. Out of appreciation of that kind of thing, I’m going to try and answer Adam’s questions. I will probably fall behind.First question (abridged): Why would someone want to work with you? (Whole thing here) A while ago, I was thinking a lot about the community […]

Art is all the parts.

Mission Paradox has these to very good posts – the first on the sports to church to theatre analogies (those Bears examples still hurt – redemption on Monday?) and then followed it up with Not nearly enough “The implication is this: Art isn’t enough. If you want a career as an artist, or a strong […]

Resisting bureaucratic capitalism

A question that’s been poking at me for a while now. That I need (and maybe I’m not alone) a way to make performances quickly and outside of the structures laid down by the current status quo. To be clear: the status quo, to me (now, here) includes most “working artists” – since we are […]

The value of doing something fast

This seems true. And something I’m trying to figure it out in the theatre. (Galileo, What Keeps Mankind Alive) Beyond the excitement and buzz factor, what’s the value of doing this project so fast? Magazines don’t have money to pay anyone anymore. A lot of people are expected to invest a lot of time to […]

As opposed to irony

We mean what we say, we also mean other things.I’ve been having a problem with irony lately – especially here in Toronto. I want to keep working on it, since I used to like it a lot and felt like it could do some useful things. But recently I’ve been seeing it as a defensive […]

Galileo – Not at all verbatim.

These days (or maybe in the days just passing) there is a desire for truth and/or authenticity that gets worked out in verbatim theatre (also dance) – at the same time as these claims there’s backlash when we find out someone was lying and historical accuracy seems important. David Hare has written a nice piece […]

Audience and Performer – Who needs who

More from 99 – this time as a guest at Parabasis it puts into my mind a bigger question: is there a difference between writing to an audience, writing for an audience and writing about an audience, particularly if you’re engaged in anything at all activist in your work? And should there be only one […]