A letter from the 3penny

Small Wooden Shoe Show: 3penny Variety Show.

We’ve been working and laughing – oh god is there a lot of laughing – on 3penny, which, like the art I love most, changes meaning all the time. This is a different event now than it was in April. Even when we don’t change the words, the meaning has changed. And it’s a blessing to be in the room with smart, talented superstars who can deal with all that and more, like sing songs that are dark and great and darker for their greatness.

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from 2004: All Statements Are Insecure Questions

There are eight words I return to. They are words I heard and haven’t been able to stop hearing. For the past three years, while I have been director of Small Wooden Shoe Theatre Co. in Halifax, they have been touchstones. I see them in the work I did with sabotage group before I heard them; I see them in all my plans and hopes for the future. So, eight words toward a theatre …

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TBT: Post-Disciplinary Manifesto - draft 3

Originally posted September 2005


Most manifestos or labels define a positive rule. To call work “Interdisciplinary” implies that all work will contain a mix of disciplines. That this disciplinary mixing will be a considered assumption of every project. Post-disciplinary make no such assumptions. Having worked though “multi” and “inter,” “post” argues that disciplinary assumptions are no longer useful. That art work and artists no longer require of themselves a primary distinction.

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Towards a Mangle of Practice

Welcome to this new space for writing about the things that I, and the shimmering group of regulars and irregulars around Small Wooden Shoe, care about.

Exploring and linking of these cared-for areas makes up what I consider my practice.

And I would like that practice to involve more writing and thinking in public.

It's going to start with Field Notes from Montreal and the Festival Transamériques and OFFTA then from Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Ottawa and maybe even Luminato in Toronto.

I'm writing a series articles about the experience of attending the festivals, more holistic than show specific. Those will come out between this summer and next.

In the mean time I'm going to keep more immediate and show focused Field Notes here. Daily mangled contributions to writing on performance and context.

Andrew Pickering - The Mangle of Practice (xi)

Working on Dedicated to the Revolutions, a vaudevillian lecture-demo-performance about scientific progress, I listened to David Cayley's "How to think about science" series for CBC's Ideas.

The most very sticky metaphor has been "the mangle of practice" articulated (in this episode) by UK sociologist and historian of science Andrew Pickering:

"Practice as modelling, I thus realized, has an important real-time structure, with the contours of cultural extension being determined by the emergence in time of resistances, and by the success or failure of "accommodations" to resistance.

"This temporal structuring of practice as a dialectic of resistance and accommodation is, in the first instance, what I have come to call the mangle of practice." - Pickering (xi)

A "mangle", beyond gruesome imagination, is an old fashioned washing machine.


Not this: 

Though maybe sometimes that too.

I'm drawn to wringing, expanding and entangling a variety of practices and ideas - and I have been dissatisfied with the metaphors like "mixing" and "balancing."

The "mangle" has some of the discomfort, mischief and violence along with the historic usefulness that I want from my metaphors.

So I'm going to go with that.