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.

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.]


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

Life of Galileo – May 30 – Convocation Hall

Small Wooden Shoe stages a reading of Brecht’s Life of Galileo

7pmSunday, May 30thConvocation Hall

By donation to The Actors’ Fund of Canada Tickets will be available at the door starting at 6pm Doors open by 6:30pm

A staged reading of a great play in a great hall with a great cast and with the humblest of thanks.

35 or so of Toronto’s theatre, music and film community come together to read a new translation of Brecht’s Life of Galileo – an ever-relevant story about the complicated relationships between power, history, individuals and freedom of thought.

This night, this reading, is thanks to Tracy Wright. In more way than I can express, she is what makes it possible – what brings us together to do this crazy thing. And people who make crazy things possible are always in need of thanks. Tracy has made many crazy, beautiful things possible.

**********UPDATED****************************** Tracy Wright passed away June 22, 2010. A letter Don wrote can be read here. I miss you Tracy, and am thankful you were in my life. **************************************************

This one’s for her.

Fiona Highet will read the part of Galileo.

Joining her in this landmark event are Andrea Davis, Andrea Donaldson, Ann-Marie MacDonald, BrendanGall, Cara Gee, Caroline Gillis, Clinton Walker, Daniel MacIvor, Darren O'Donnell, David Fox, Earl Pastko, Erin Shields, Evan Webber, Frank Cox-O’Connell, Gregory Prest, Guillermo Verdecchia, Kirsten Johnson, Lyon Smith, Matt Baram, Michelle Polak, Nadia Ross, Naomi Sniekus, Ravi Jain, Richard Allen Campbell, Robin Fulford, Sky Gilbert, Tony Nappo and more. This group of collaborators spans several generations of great Toronto independent and contemporary theatre makers coming together for one night only.

Toronto musicians Laura Barrett and Matt Murphy provide the live soundtrack to this momentous event.

We thank you for your support and hope to see you on the 30th

- Jacob Zimmer

All proceeds will go to The Actors’ Fund of Canada. With over 10,000 professional members, The Actors’ Fund provides emergency financial aid to assist cultural workers in recovering from an illness, injury or other circumstances causing severe economic and personal hardship.

Made possible with the support of the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council And the assistance of Canadian Stage's Festival of Ideas and Creation and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Life of Galileo Directed by Jacob Zimmer with Brendan Healy Translated by Birgit Schreyer Duarte with Jacob Zimmer 16mm film: Mark Loeser Artistic Producer: Erika Hennebury Associate Producer: Leora Morris Stage Managed by Maria Popoff Photograph of Tracy Wright: Guntar Kravis Portrait of Tracy Wright: Kirsten Johnson Lots of help: Naomi Campbell, Richard Feren, Jennifer Jimenez, Sherrie Johnson, Chris Lorway, Maureen O’Donnell, JP Robichaud, Trevor Schwellnus