This Is Not a Review

For all the emerging artists out there…

Posted on by Luke

In case you’re having one of those “I don’t know that I can do this” days, here’s an awesome 20 minutes from the Philadelphia University of the Arts, and the ever-incredible Neil Gaiman. To sum up:

Make Good Art.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Theatre

Posted on by Susan

Some of you are hoping tonight that the rarest of things will happen: that someone is actually going to tell the truth.That’s rare. That’s hen’s teeth.

You should know better.

And so should I. Because that’s what I’m looking for—every time I come back to this place, and all the places like it. Looking for the truth: that rare, random descent, like a feather across the back of your hand.”

Mike Daisey, from How Theater Failed America

“I also find any assertion that any piece of art (theatre ) is “true” or “completely factual” to be suspect. As soon as we call something theatre (prefixes such as “docu” or “agi-prop” are simply codifiers for marketing) we are moving into the realm of artifice and lies.”

–  David Ferry, on the Praxis Theatre blog post Pushing up Daisey: iChanges in iChina

“Do you think these people are mentally ill? Do you think it is possible that they are making all this up?”

Mike Daisey’s translator Cathy, wondering about the accuracy of FoxConn workers’ claims

This past weekend I finally got to see the Toronto production (and adaptation) of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, produced by Outside the March in association with Theatre Passe Muraille. The  history of Daisey’s work is by now infamous: a worshiper at the cult of Mac, he got curious about how Apple products are actually made, went to China, wrote a play about his experience, punched up some details and presented it as a true account, did a lot of media, went on a journalistic radio program claiming it was the truth, and then was publicly humiliated when his fabrications were exposed.

Daisey has chosen to release his play into the wild under a Creative Commons license, so that anybody who wanted to could use it as a tool to proselytize against the evils of Apple. Daisey hadn’t been working from a script, exactly – each performance he tells his story afresh – so he developed a script from transcripts of the actual performances. He encourages people to make any adaptations they see fit; an invitation that feels a little different in the light of the scandal. The Outside the March production curated by Mitchell Cushman and David Ferry, properly titled The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (and the Repudiation and Redemption of Mike Daisey), uses much of the text of Daisey’s play, but supplements it with information about the scandal.

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Artist Training: 2012 Volcano Conservatory

Posted on by Luke

Training opportunities like this are few and far between. There are lots of workshops, classes, and training sessions in the city, but I can’t recommend the Volcano Conservatory more highly. Having taken a class way back “in the day” with them, specifically training in Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints, I can honestly say that it’s influenced a huge amount of the work that I’m doing now. In fact, we’re using Viewpoints as a working mechanism right now for our creation of the TTC show.

Training is one of those things that keeps me going when a show isn’t around the corner. There is no substitute for rehearsals and performance  – it’s what theatre people are bred to love, and conditioned through school to expect every day when you get up in the morning, but the real world just isn’t like that. And so consistent training helps to maintain the level of performance that we hope to have while we wait for the next gig (or in many cases, create that next gig ourselves).

So, with all that in mind, and the knowledge that constant training is necessary to be a flexible actor – check out the offerings of this year’s Conservatory by clicking on the image below. There are discount rates for CAEA, ADA and CADA, as well as for those who take more than one class. Sign up soon – it’s well worth it.

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Truthiness: Dos and Don’ts in Reality-Based Theatre

Posted on by Susan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (as have a lot of people) about the relationship between the theatre and the truth. Partly in view of the upcoming Glasswater project, and partly from the fallout from Mike Daisey’s genre transgressions with The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I’ve been thinking about how theatre artists grapple with facts to uncover the truth.I don’t really want to talk about Daisey’s work right now – many, many people have already said things worth reading on it, and frankly, I haven’t seen it (although Outside the March will be bringing it to Toronto in May, and I certainly intend to see it then!). In case you haven’t been on the Internet lately: Daisey’s work has, shall we say, a problematic relationship with facts: it was billed as “not a work of fiction”, despite having some fictive elements. Once the proverbial shit hit the fan in Daisey’s project, it was hard not to wonder about the massive grey area between total Fact and total Fiction on the stage. In this bizarre climate, I saw two productions in Toronto based to a greater or lesser degree in reality, each grappling in its own way. By revealing their limitations to the audience, their truthiness was less of a problem.

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