Share an office with us.

We're looking for an office mate in Toronto. Please feel free to spread the word.Available March 15 or April 1 Shared office in the Junction

Ame Henderson (Public Recordings) and Jacob Zimmer (Small Wooden Shoe) are seeking a like-minded spy to share our new office space at Dundas West and Keele.

We are performance makers running little companies as well as freelancing so this will be our workspace for the administration and production side of our arts practices.

We are hoping to find an office mate who is working independently in the arts and who shares our interest in creating a open concept and flexible workspace.

$250/month, includes internet info@publicrecordings.org

Upper Toronto – Torontoist

Amazing illustration by Brett Lamb

Getting to the Bottom of Upper Toronto - Torontoist.

You know how when you were a kid, sometimes you would get an idea in your head, and you wouldn't let the fact that it didn't make sense or that it didn't play by the rules of logic and physics or even that it was actually a terrible idea stop you from just imagining the shit out of it? The world could be guided by the principle of "What if...?" and the answer could be "...then everything."

Jacob Zimmer, creative director of performance company Small Wooden Shoe, is bringing something of the magical thinking of kid logic back in style. Zimmer's latest project-in-the-making asks the question "What if we took Toronto and built a new city on top of it and called it Upper Toronto and moved everybody up there?" The project is in its infancy stages, but the folks at Small Wooden Shoe think that it will take a village to raise a city to the sky, and they want your help.

Upper Toronto - Help wanted

spreading the word about Upper Toronto - a project that we're getting underway...

Upper Toronto is an ambitious performance project to design and propose to the public the building of a new Toronto above the current one: the CN restaurant might be ground level, or imagine a city sitting on top of Bay Street towers. When Upper Toronto is finished, all residents of Lower Toronto will move up and Lower Toronto transformed into some combination of intentional ruin, national park, and farmland.

This is, of course, a terrible idea. But it is a terrible idea that might let us imagine and perform possibilities and questions about what kind of world we might want if we could start fresh.

more from the Small Wooden Shoe website | Join in on our new Conversation Starters bulletin board

A working list of values:

  • the city has to be one we want to live in.
  • The city has to be diverse - economically, culturally, geographically. It can’t be a city for-and-by the downtown-highly-educated-culturally-privileged.* 4 million people don’t live the same way. Suburbs are important to think about. We need help finding the right people to talk to - please post a reply on the bulletin board, or email uppertoronto at smallwoodenshoe.org dot org
  • radical shifts from current trends are possible and probably necessary. e.g.: RFID may be all the rage, but maybe we don't want them to be in the future. Maybe we think that in 75 years we will not want the world to know where we are.
  • No techno utopias/dystopias.
  • having said the above - technology is not the enemy.
  • Infrastructure must be publicly owned. There will be no “Big Bank Highway.”
  • The city must be flexible and modifiable by the people who live there.
  • The people who live in Forest Hill will have less space. And less influence.

- - What else? - * Those folk (of which I am certainly one) are important and might make up a fair number of the teams - we are the ones with Shirky’s cognitive surplus [TEDtalk] to work on thought experiments about floating cities. But we can't be the only ones.

bureaucratic capitalism 1

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 deeply invested in and reliant on the current structures.

There are so many systemic changes required on all levels and I believe firmly in a governments role in funding the arts – but I suspect it is up to us, as artist/makers to find a better way.

I don't know what it is but here are some thoughts

- it's cheap. cheap to make, cheap to see.

- it's fast. get's made quickly, or at least is able to respond to the speed of life. (there is another kind of desperately needed work that is not at all about speed, but that's a different post)

- it's funny.

- it has songs.

- it is in relation to the publics that we are a part of. to the stories and imaginations that make it up.

- soft professional liberalism won't help.

While I am cynical and and a little burnt by the big puppet / public spectacle world - I still have curiosity. Especially around Welfare State International. This is a great bit (the whole article is worth it too...)

We joined to make playful art outside the ghetto. Not to work three years ahead in a goal-orientated corporate institution where matched funding and value-added output tick boxes destroy imaginative excess. The art business puts jobs before vocations. Overintensive risk management, child protection, alarm systems, licensing, family-friendly badges and employment laws invade with a suffocating culture of smug inertia.

via Where should British theatre go now? | Stage | The Guardian.

3 things and a thank you

first: Dedicated to the Revolutions is at Magnetic North June 16-19second: Life Time Subscriptions to Small Wooden Shoe – limited number arenow on sale.third: A workshop that Jacob and Michael Trent are leading at Dancemakers.

and Thank you to everyone who participated, helped and joined us forLife of Galileo. It was a remarkable and moving night with 32 people on stage, over 500 people in attendance and over $4,000 raised for the Actors’ Fund. Pictures (some already here) and a recording of Laura Barrett and Matt Murphy’s beautiful song will be coming soon. [Subscribe to our blog here or become a fan on Facebook here to be alerted when we do things. I try to keep emails to a minimum (so that you know I mean it) – but if you want more Small Wooden Shoe in your life, those are the best ways.]

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1. Join us in Kitchener-Waterloo from June 16-19 as we perform Dedicated to the Revolutions as part of Magnetic North Theatre Festival. We’re honored to be part of the festival and to be performing in the dense pocket of science and technology that is K-W – home to RIM and the Perimeter Institute.The show has grown through the pleasure of returning to work after time has past, so if you saw it in Toronto, we’d be curious to hear what you thought of the difference. And if you didn’t see it the first time at Buddies, this is as close to Toronto as we’re going to get for a while. There’s a few things happening around the show and festival:

On Wednesday June 16, there is a bus that’s part of the “THE TORONTO SPECIAL”: For June 14, 15 and 16 Toronto arts practitioners can buy a one-day special for $100. It includes the bus leaving at 10 from Toronto to K-W and back late, access to the day's Industry Series programming and tickets for two shows. All reservations must be made in advance through Gayle Diguer at GDiguer@nac-cna.ca or 1-519-772-3783.

On the Thursday June 17, after the show, as a Magnetic Encounter, there will be a short and raucus debate: Whereas: String theory is not like poetry and Whereas: The Uncertainty Principal does not apply to romantic comedy plots; BE IT RESOLVED THAT: Science and Art may no longer share metaphors. Arguing for the Opposition will be Evan Webber and CBC Radio’s Bob MacDonald (Quirks and Quarks), arguing for the Affirmative will be Jacob Zimmer and a guest from the research community of K-W. Very good times.

On Friday we do a talkback after the show and Saturday we do 2 shows – so the matinee fans can get in there. On Sunday we travel home – which won’t be so fun to watch.

2. Small Wooden Shoe is offering 20 LIFE TIME SUBSCRIPTIONS. Yes – exactly what it sounds like. You can get a ticket to any Small Wooden Shoe show, anywhere in the world any time for the rest of your life. You let us know when in the run you want to come and we give you a ticket. Happen to be in Wales at the same time as us? You can get a ticket. In twenty-two years, as we celebrate 30 years of making theatre and bringing people and ideas together with a huge show – you can get a ticket. How much for this unlimited thing that also shows your support and belief in the work we do? $500. Click here to buy using Paypal. We will send you a nice card, individually numbered, that you can use for the rest of your life. If you buy before Monday June 14 – your subscription includes Magnetic North.

3. A workshop with Jacob and Michael Trent at Dancemakers.As part of Dancemakers Emerging Dance Artists Project, I'll be joining Michael Trent (Dancemakers Artistic Director and resident choreographer) in leading a six day workshop July 19-24. It will be for theatre and dance practitioners wherein everyone is invited to train, perform and generate. Six days of doing and talking about the intersection, conversation, overlap and difference between disciplines without relying on slashes or hyphens. Mostly physical, occasionally heady but never boring. Strategies in composition and creation including Viewpoints, debating and other improvisation tactics as well as writing and lots of moving will be used. Led by Trent and Zimmer and informed by the participants’ contributions, the workshop is $400 and spots can be reserved by emailing edap@dancemakers.org

What some one else was thinking

Tim Etchell's blog at the Guardian continues to be very good:

It's watching this small fraction of inspired improvisations (maybe 3% would be more accurate) that reminds me how lucky I am to work with performers who can do this – this very strange combination of tuning and turning, doing and waiting, acting and not acting, pretending, playing, inventing, insisting, listening and taking chances. It might be an odd thing for a sometime writer like me to say, but watching this kind of rehearsal, when the group is on a roll, and being lucky enough to nudge it into shape a bit, reconfirms so many of my doubts about the singularity of authorship that many plays demand. I really do prefer the making by doing, the group effort, its multiple directions and endless live negotiations. Even the cold of the bunker, and the ever-present threat of an eight-hour circular discussion, can't keep me away.

Unconference updates

Right Here, Right Now, the the Unconference on the Future(s) of Toronto Performance, takes place this Saturday, June 20, from 10 am to 6:00 pm, at the Berkely Street Theatre.Here's the original post.

Here's where you register

The event is shaping up to be an important, helpful meeting of people who care a great deal about theatre, dance and performance in Toronto, and who, having met, have the ability to really get something done.

We look forward to your contribution. Here’s a few new details about the event.

*** Saturday , June 20 10:00 – 6:00. All-day

The Un-conference is a full-day event, on Saturday, June 20. Registered participants are expected to take part for the whole day.

We’ll be serving coffee, tea, and snacks, and registering participants starting at 9:30 am. Please show up at the Berkeley Street Theatre no later than 10:00 so we can start on time. As well, Lunch is included in your Registration fee, which you can pay at the door if you haven’t already (only $10).

*** Can’t make it? Need to miss part of it? Let us know.

We’ve assembled a great collection of people for this event, and we’re counting on your participation. If for any reason you can’t make it to the event, or might need to miss part of the day, please let us know as soon as possible.

***Come prepared to participate

Right Here Right Now is a fully participatory event. The event will be facilitated in way where most of the agenda is created by participants. You’ll spend most of your time in discussion with other people.

You don’t have to do anything to prepare. But if you like, you might want to think a bit about this: Is there a specific problem or challenge you face, that you think other people at this conference might be able to help you with? We’re going to structure the event so that people can really share expertise, and help each other with real, practical issues.

*** After the event

The event will go till around 6:00. The bar will be open for a while after for those who want to continue the conversation, and people who want to have dinner together after the conference can meet at Betty’s (240 King St East), where we’ve reserved a room.

*** More information

The event is at The Canadian Stage Company – Berkeley Street Theatre – 26 Berkeley Street.

We’ll be providing lunch for all participants, around mid-day

To minimize our use of disposable cups, we encourage you to bring your own coffee mug and water bottle.

You can read the full announcement of the event here.

Looking forward to seeing you Saturday!

Sincerely,

Misha Glouberman, Jacob Zimmer, Ravi Jain and Natasha Mytnowych

Unconference June 20

On Saturday June 20, from 10am - 6 pm, I think something can start.For few years I've imagined a big meeting of people involved in performance in Toronto. I imagined this meeting because I don't really know many of you (no matter what Facebook says), and I especially don't know what problems you have that I might be able to help with and which problems of mine you solved years ago or at least might have some words of advice for me. Or what good times we might have if we spent some time together. I want to get out of the silos that I too frequently find myself in – I imagined a meeting because I suspected I wasn't alone in feeling this.

And I'm tired of panels and professional meetings that, while important and useful, don't feel nearly as lively as the people attending them.

So it is with great pleasure and hope that I'm writing to invite you to the first Un-Conference on the Future(s) of Toronto Performance

This is a chance for theatre, dance and performance-based artists, administrators and supporters to set the agenda and have the conversations that matter most to you. A chance to meet, in a meaningful way, new people and actually talk with the people you might see all the time but never actually sit down with.

It is a potential space for something special to happen – to get together and meet. And meeting helps.

Space is limited so please RSVP to festival@canstage.com.

Below the fold is some more writing on the event.

Also – if you forward this post to the people you also think should be there – that would be great. There are people I don't know, who you do, and I'd like to meet them and hear what they, and you, have to say about the future(s) of Toronto performance.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments

Right Here, Right Now: an Un-Conference on The Future(s) of Toronto Performance

Saturday, June 20, 2009, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., $10 including lunch - Reception to Follow

A one day meeting of Toronto's groundbreaking professional artists, arts workers and arts leaders to talk about the future(s) of performance practice and our city's stages. Facilitated by Trampoline Hall's Misha Glouberman using techniques drawing from open-space technology and world cafes (the "Un-" denotes a conference with no panels, guest-speakers or pre-determined outcomes), the agenda is crafted by participants and the issues on the table are the ones you want to talk about. All who have stake in the evolution of performance are encouraged to attend to strategize, explore and identify what we can do right now to address our most challenging and exciting opportunities.

To attend: download and fill out the registration form HERE and email it to festival@canstage.com.  Space is limited. Sign up today.

Want to know more? What is an Un-Conference anyway?

This is what it is:

A one day “un-conference” to talk about the future(s) (as many as we want).

On a first name basis, with an agenda proposed and finalized when we arrive, anything anyone cares enough about will be up for discussion in groups large and small, records will be kept and distributed, lunch and maybe a drink or two will be had. It will all be facilitated by the wonderful Misha Glouberman, using “un-Conference” methods and approaches that are changing the way people gather and make change in the technology sector and, now, far beyond.

On this day, we will gather to speak as individuals and artists who care and take responsibility for the forms we work in, without the pressure of representing the organizations we may work for or work with. To speak in order to help each other solve problems.  Big problems (the ethics of contemporary performance) or smaller problems (best place to buy good cheap paint.)

To look at big problems by solving small ones.  Not to complain about the things we spend so much time complaining about but taking a proactive approach to conversation that focuses on what we can do right here, right now.

Where and when? Saturday June 20, 2009 10 am - 6 pm (with evening celebrations) $10 (lunch included) The Canadian Stage Company - Berkeley Street Theatre -26 Berkeley Street Part of the Canadian Stage Company’s Festival of Ideas and Creation< In association with Dancemakers and Small Wooden Shoe.

Who? You. Those who care about the future(s) of Toronto performance.  Artists, Arts Workers, Arts Advocates.

We want this to be big and broad. To move past lip service to the diversity of Toronto’s performance scene. To be in a room and look around and be rocked by the meeting of difference.

The agenda is set by those who are present, by the people who care and take responsibility. So its really important that YOU are in the room.

As well – tell us who should we make sure is there, or invite them yourself by forwarding this email!

Why the future? By focusing on the future we look to what we, in the room, can change. What is possible next, if we do something different now. Where might we want to go – as artists, as people who care about performance.  What questions can we ask, and answer when we’re all in the same room. What problems can we solve by talking together.

It’s perhaps too easy to get caught in old separations or past perceived indiscretions. And they are important to acknowledge – to discuss so that they don’t happen again in the future. But it is the future we look to.

Why performance? Performance is a broad term. And that’s important. It’s important to know that for all our needed and valuable differences, there are some things that could get better if we talked, some things we might have to learn from each other.  Things that performance artists have to talk about with theatre folk and stuff they both want to chat about with dancers.

And because, with the economic crisis and etc etc, it’s rare that we get to meet and talk about performance itself, and the creative decisions, structures and opportunities we have to expand our practice and our methods.  And that meeting and talking could be very important.

Why Toronto? Toronto is a big city. This is so obvious as not to need to be said. Except it does. Because we think it’s a small world.

Especially for those of us who make performances of any kind.< It is a very very small world. And yet it’s a big city. And so, in a small world in a big city, We don’t meet each other.

We find ourselves, despite ourselves, in silos.* And it’s not malevolent or even intentional. Toronto is a big city. And it’s a busy city.

But perhaps this is not the way to look forward. Looking forward might need many people in one room talking about the things they care most about. So it would be good to meet. Good to take one day to come together. And talk about the futures of performance, as a form, not an industry, in Toronto. To try and help and be helped by sharing space and time.

Why a meeting? Meeting each other and talking can be an end in and of itself. We need to meet those we don’t yet know, and talk again with those we think we know well.  To break assumptions and find what we can offer each other. We meet to bring together communities that don’t often share space, despite sharing so many concerns. The potential for creative chemistry is vast when people come together in the same room to share curiosity, passion and responsibility. And by looking at problems we are striving to solve, we think we will find new perspectives and new solutions.  And, at the very least – you’ll know more about what’s going on in the places you are sometimes to busy to go to, or perhaps have never really been to at all.

*”Since, for example, I work mostly through Buddies, Theatre Passe Muraille and the Theatre Centre, I don’t know what’s going on at Factory, fu-gen, Soulpepper, Obsidian and on and on. Since I work at Dancemakers, I don’t know Pro Arte Danza.  And I don’t think I’m alone in this.”  says Jacob Zimmer.  And we think he is right.

To attend: download and fill out the registration form HERE and email it to festival@canstage.com Space is limited. Sign up today

Misha Glouberman is a facilitator and designer of highly participatory events. He’s hosted panels, discussions, and events with health care workers, transit activists, professional dancers, homeless parents, Open Source software advocates, graffiti artists, Copyright experts, and Star Trek fans, to name just a few.

His approach to conference design draws especially on Open Space Technology, and the UnConference approach, both methods of conference design meant to get people talking to each other and sharing ideas quickly and effectively, in a highly decentralized model. His working style combines analytic rigour (he worked for many years as a database designer, and has a degree in philosophy from Harvard College) with a creative people-centered approach (he has taught classes in improvised music and theatre for many years).

Misha’s interest in how people connect with each other also extends into work he does as a performer and artist. He hosts “The Trampoline Hall Lectures”, an interactive show popular with the arts and literary set in Toronto and New York, as well as “Terrible Noises for Beautiful People”, a series of participatory sound events for non-musicians, among other projects. He believes himself to be Canada’s foremost charades instructor, a claim which has thus far gone unchallenged.

New mandate / company description

In post Dedicated mode (thanks everyone who came) we've been writing some material, including re-jigging the way we talk about the company. I would love to hear thoughts on it:SMALL WOODEN SHOE

sabotage , noun, French, from sabot – ... 3b : deliberate subversion sabot - French, noun - a small wooden shoe.

Artistic Director: Jacob Zimmer Artistic Producer: Erika Hennebury

Founded in 2001 by Jacob Zimmer in Halifax, Small Wooden Shoe is a theatre company now based in Toronto.

Small Wooden Shoe engages with the world around us in a curiously critical manner while maintaining the need to perform – to step up and to entertain. By being direct, honest and genial we hope to ease or transform the possible alienation between performers and audience. We do this in an attempt to find ways to ease or transform the possible alienation of contemporary living.

We believe theatre is a useful tool to think-through, feel-out and change-up important social, historical, political and other everyday issues.

Believing that developing a sound artistic practice shouldn’t limit us to one performance style or genre, we have made political agit-prop (Delayed Knee Jerk Reactions, 2001), hard-boiled live-to-air radio (The Mysterious Death of WB, 2002), Chekhov adaptations (The Orchard, 2002), multi-media solo shows (No Secrets, 2003) and durational task based performances (Mostly Just Doing the Saturday Crossword, 2006). We have also created on-line think tanks, public meetings, teaching workshops, keynote lectures and publications, all of which we consider to be part of the same larger project that is Small Wooden Shoe.

Small Wooden Shoe performances are created in collaboration, led by Jacob Zimmer. Jacob brings the conceptual framework and starting points to the collaborators and the show is the result of the responses to his propositions and his response to those responses. This creative feedback-loop expands the work beyond the possibilities of a single maker, with all participants having a personal investment in the work, while maintaining a distinct and rigorous artistic vision that identifies the work as a Small Wooden Shoe production.

We envision a local, national and international conversation about the world and about performance. Our participation is maintained through travelling and meeting: essential ways of extending the reach of the company and our projects work while also engendering vital feedback and inspiration.

Small Wooden Shoe is a company in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille

So we started a SWS blog

There’s a few reasons for that.The first is because I want to be able to write about what we’re doing, about performance and about other things I’m curious about. And while I already post on the Dancemakers blog, it might be important to keep these things a little separate to allow for more (or less) focus.

We also wanted a way for people to follow our work between events, to be able to subscribe (RSS) and get updates even if they don’t use Facebook.

And I want there to be a discussion - I’ve always have been interested in a feedback loop between myself and others - it’s why I make work the way I do and why I get excited about the potential of this interweb thing. I’m not always great at generating online (any clues would be welcome.)

So some values for the blog - (I’m writing these for myself as much as for anyone else)

It will mostly be about art questions. I’m sure there will be some stuff about producing (because they are related) but the focus will be on the art.

Marketing is not the point of the blog. Sharing ideas and practices is. There will be some marketing though.

Posts will be as long or short as needed. That’s part of the promise of the form. And some ideas need a sentence to start, some need pages.

Ok, that seems like a good start.

Anything I forgot?

jz