A welcome to The Room

A great company web site.

Somewhere on it you’ll find a set of posted rules.

The first rule is:

In the room, things are being made.

The fourth rule is:

In The Room no one can say for sure what these things will be until they are done, because making things is a kind of magic, and magic can’t always be controlled.

I like the sound of this already.

Congratulations to Brendan, Christopher, Geoffrey, Natasha and Ian. Welcome to the world. We’ll be watching for your uncontrollable magic from the left side of the country.

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Crazy Kansas homophobe vs. Toronto theatre: and the winner is…

Photo by Roger Cullman

Do we even have to say it? Despite the fact that the actual Pastor Phelps was turned back at the Canadian border, Toronto anti-protesters turned out in magnificent force to show support for The Pastor Phelps Project, a play up in the Summerworks Festival right now. Blog TO has got the article and some capital-G Great pics of the good citizens that showed up to disparage the crazy redneck sect from St. Topeka, Kansas. And the real winner? The play itself, which sold out handily, turning people away from its opening night performance.

There ya go, conflict marketing at work. What lessons can we take from this?

H/T to the divine Ms. Mooney.

Highlights from today’s Canadian theatrosphere

Hot day on the Great White North theatre blog tundra today (it’s…alive!), a day worthy of a round-up. Check out these great posts:

Pitch-hitting blogger Evan Webber over at Chris Dupuis’ Time and Space sums up his TO Fringe experience. Heading into the festival with a mission to determine the answer to the question “what do people like” from their indie theatre, Evan comes out the other end with some great observations.

“From this angle, what people like (and what I like too) are performances in which the ambition to communicate is desperate and huge, shows that ask a lot.”

Read on for more of that…

Marketer/blog master Ian Mackenzie has sourced out a video that takes 18 minutes to address 87% of the discussion on the theatrenets. Author Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, The Tipping Point) discusses the origin of diverse consumer product choice and the importance of a varied market, and Ian grafts it onto theatre. Brilliant.

“What theatre can learn from spaghetti sauce”…

And over at Michael Rubenfeld’s Summerworks blog, a bona fide brouhaha erupts in the comments section of a festival promotional video that brings out Toronto theatre’s serious side. And they call us No-Fun City.

Click for a lesson in how to get internet conversations about theatre started…

Independents the Future of Canadian Theatre?

The Canadian Stage Company, which has a stated aim to create and produce the best in Canadian theatre, will not produce any Canadian work on its mainstage next season, industry sources say.” – From the Toronto Star.

Yet another questionable decision by “Canada’s largest not-for-profit contemporary theatre company”. Not only is there no indication of any Canadian plays being produced next season, but they fired the staffer responsible for new play development. And their director of audience development and education. Looks like someone else is going to have to write new plays and develop and educate new audiences in this country, I guess. Anyone for keeping it real?

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Controversy in Canadian Theatre. No, Seriously.

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Near the beginning of last year a big ol’ Toronto theatre organization, The Canadian Stage Company (billed as Canada’s largest not-for-profit contemporary theatre co.) gave a “political” play called My Name is Rachel Corrie some no-such-thing-as-bad publicity by canceling its planned production in their 07/08 season. Artistic Producer Martin Bragg dropped it from the line-up for one of two possible reasons: a.) members of CanStage’s board indicated that they thought the play may offend people, specifically Jewish people, or b.) Mr. Bragg attended an off-Broadway staging of it that was so bad that he declared that he didn’t like it any more. “It didn’t seem as powerful on the stage as it did on the page” declared Mr. Bragg. Really? Charges of antisemitism have dogged the play, in addition to CanStage the original New York company and a Miami company canceled planned mountings. Meanwhile, Canadian theatre had a bona-fide controversy on its hands.

As if that in itself isn’t awesome enough, a Vancouver grassroots theatre company is mounting MNiRC at the Havana starting tonight and running to Feb. 9. Neworld Theatre, in a co-production with Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre, isn’t shrinking from any potential backlash to this play here, neither is the Havana itself, despite negative reaction which included an email that read: “Too bad Havana restaurant and theatre has decided to get involved in a political play that has no artistic interests but the fact that it serves to expose pro-Palestinian propaganda.” The emailer further promised to boycott the theatre and the restaurant that it resides in. Oh, snap.

No artistic interests? It’s a play, weirdo. Yeesh. Rachel Corrie was a young American peace activist and writer who went to the Gaza Strip to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished, and in 2003 at the age of 23 was crushed beneath an Israeli bulldozer that was advancing on the home of a Palestinian doctor. The play is a one-woman show adapted from her own writing in journals and emails home from Rafah by Alan Rickman (cooler they do not come) and Guardian journalist Katherine Viner. It is selections from the personal writings of this woman on her experience, so how can it be judged propagandist? Do these people really believe theatre-goers to be unable to anatomize art and formulate our own opinions? Isn’t that the very definition of art? Try and keep me from seeing this play.

Meanwhile, back over in the T-dot, Theatre Panik mounts the Toronto premier of My Name is Rachel Corrie in May. Some of those shows are already sold out.