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.  […]

A big list of things I did in 2012

January Dancemakers development for The Adpatation Project Antigone Dead People planning and plotting. Upper Toronto planning and plotting. February JZ travels to the PuSh Festival to pitch Antigone Dead People and see some shows. Upper Toronto at Parkdale Arts and Recreation Centre. JZ attends EMERGENCE: A Symposium on Community Arts Practice Boys who say no […]

2012 Big list of thanks

Along with choir singing (ours, where we sing 3penny Opera, is on Sunday the 30th – click here)It’s the time of year for lists, including lists of people – so I thought I’d make one of the people I’ve been blessed to collaborate with at Small Wooden Shoe this year. More or less in chronological […]

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 […]

Factory: Unthrowing my name

[Background] I am revoking / not going to submit my application for the position of Artistic Director of Factory Theatre. There are some very practical reasons.[1] but more than those – My application was made in an effort to have a conversation. This hasn’t materialized. I’ve had some interesting private chats with people I run […]

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 – […]

Factory: Public Application

On the day that the situation is back in the news, Here is a draft of my Letter of Experience for the position of Artistic Director of Factory Theatre. I’ve broken it, for the purposes of the blog, into three posts plus the older cover letter Lots of people have asked if I expect that […]

Public Application Part 3: @Factory

@Factory Theatre [In which I talk about what imagine for a space like Factory. This is the first stage of the application and I haven’t seen any numbers or talked with staff, so there is an aspirational tone without the specifics, but I believe in collaborating based on aspirations and then working hard on the […]

Future thinking (from the past)

I just did a little survey that Eventbrite asked me to, and there were a couple interesting things for theatre: … over the next 12 months, how important do you think information from social networks will become in identifying the best attendees for events you plan to organize?” [emphasis mine] Not any attendee, not “new” […]

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 […]

Stand up for Justice

A song for your long weekend listening, from me and Sedition, or “Kindness Makes Me Cry Like Nothing Else”:the JB McLachlan Story Click through and play on the site. From the Summerworks page (look for the face) “This story I tell you is true, my friend / This story of a miner, a man they […]

Jacob’s nerd omnibus #1

NEEDS UPDATING Something completely different for the day of finishing grants. In case you didn’t know – I’m a bit of a geek – Mac and iOS specifically. And I am always, perhaps obsessively, trying to figure out best ways of working in this world of dispersed working and laptops, tablets and phones. We’re also […]

Factory: Theatre without ruling

Some thoughts spurred from a few Michaels comments. I’m not looking to run an arts service or research organization – I’m a theatre director. I believe in leadership. I believe in curation and position taking. I’m not looking to run an “open-source theatre”, or a broadly defined “shared stake holder” art space [1]. Nor am […]

Pro and Am – Running back and forth

On the verge of starting our first workshop for non-identifying artists –  I’ve been thinking, and really beginning to work towards, the ability to move between professional and amateur.This appeared in my inbox today (Via You’ve Cott Mail) “Among the consequences of our fetishism of professional status, it strikes me that we have relegated ourselves […]

Recreational Theatre

I’ve been thinking a lot about recreational contemporary theatre, and am about to start a pilot program. I’m leading a workshop / rehearsal process for people who have little or no experience with acting and little or no desire to become professional actors. We will be working on Brecht’s Saint Joan of the Stockyards over […]

“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 […]

Letter to my Councillor

Below is a letter I sent Monday to my city councillor. He’s both on the Executive Council and not quite a Fordist hard-liner.On Thursday some of the cuts, including to the arts, were pulled off the table [read about it.] Which is better. I am grateful for the people who wrote and called their councillors, […]

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 […]

A responsibility (and a privilege)

Another thing that I particularly like about the Pomegranate Center is that they clearly see community improvement as their mission. Their work then flows from that belief. I would argue that any 501(c)(3) organization has that view as a responsibility (and a privilege). How is the work of the arts altered or adjusted if that […]

PHY: More kind words from the past

6 years ago when we first made Perhaps in a Hundred Years we certainly weren’t getting reviewed, so we asked some friends and friends of friends to write about the show. Which they kindly did. This one is from Darren O’Donnell – director of Mammalian Diving Reflex. There are two kinds of performance: the kind that sucks […]

Small Wooden Shoe – Where does the name come from?

This requires some back story. Right after university I founded a “collective” called sabotage group with a bunch of friends who did things other than theatre: a film-maker, a few writers, a geography PhD candidate, a few musicians (many of these people over lapped these descriptors.) “Collective” requires the quotes because really, it was a […]