Posts tagged ‘Theatre Passe Muraille’

May 29, 2013

Why This Video is Awesome – TPM’s Big Red Doors

New fundraising video hit my inbox yesterday – Theatre Passe Muraille‘s campaign to replace the big red doors. Here you go – why it’s awesome is below the clip.

The doors at Passe Muraille are extremely well known –  well –  they are the doors and the entrance. However I’d venture to say the signage over the years advising people which door to use or not use is equally well-known.

Why is this video funny? Because anyone who has worked or volunteered at Passe Muraille knows those signs. And amazement never ceases at people blithely ignoring the STOP or DO NOT USE signs and barging back out through that door.

Barge – BANG! – click/push – flip to re-set the doors to be properly closed. I worked at Passe Muraille six years ago and I will still fix the doors after someone has barged through.

This video hits people in the memory – intellectual, physical, emotional. And in case you don’t remember seeing or feeling it – there’s a demo. It’s exaggerated for effect, patrons don’t get yelled at for using that door (but man, you really wished you could…).  So it adds humour as well.

Why else is it awesome? The CEO is in it. Andy is the Artistic Director – the face of the company who is well-known, respected and one of the most likeable people I know.

The doors aren’t being fixed for fun – they’re being fixed because a) they’re broken but also because b) new doors allow for greater patron accessibility.

And we’re cautioned that it’s going to cost money – money that is not lying around in a new doors slush fund.  Why so expensive? “Heritage building”. And most people, even if they don’t know all that owning a heritage building entails, know there are serious rules and regs about fixing them. So the reason for the cost is explained too.

Finally – posted on Youtube, easily shared through social media and completely accessible to all.

Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi coined a term years ago – lovemarks. He  suggested the following are the key ingredients to create lovemarks:

Mystery: Great stories: past, present and future; taps into dreams, myths and icons; and inspiration
Sensuality:  Sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste
Intimacy: Commitment, empathy, and passion
This video makes me smile. Am lovemarked. Excellent job, TPM.
March 21, 2013

More Guest Speaking, On Flexibility and The Whipping Man Opens Tonight!

Yesterday was Day Two of guest speaking at Mowat. A different class, again some new face and again some I’d met at the Harbourfront field trip. Smaller group and fewer questions about meeting Harry Styles – not a judgement call, just different.

Interesting to note that the focus didn’t seem to be as much money although there were still two questions about the most money they could make in social media as a career. More questions this time about being happy. What should a job bring to you – what made a good job was being happy in it.  Still a couple of questions about whether or not a degree was absolutely necessary, were contacts more important. Competitiveness and cut-throat also made the cut. We had some good conversations, and when I say conversations I mean genuine back and forth which is something I much prefer as a guest speaker – I always prefer to guest-converse.

A favourite question of mine  – “what exactly do you do?’ – somedays I wonder myself. And this one was incredibly thoughtful, and one we should all remember: “What can I do to help balance happiness and stress in the future?” Excellent question and we all need to ask ourselves that every so often, changing future to NOW.

On the same sort of note, a great blog post from Andy McKim over at Passe Muraille – Are we flexible enough in the arts sector?  which stems from an article in the Guardian: Flexible working: why the arts and culture sector doesn’t get it yet

“Culture jobs are advertised as either full-time or part-time, but rarely as flexible. We define “work” in terms of hours and days worked rather than tasks completed. Even in senior positions, there is often a contractual reference to hours per week and weeks per year. What would happen if we didn’t measure jobs in terms of days worked but in terms of tasks completed? What would happen if we gave people completely free reign to deliver those tasks in a location and time of their choosing?
Some food for thought.

Thomas Olajide, Sterling Jarvis, Brett Donahue Whipping Man phot Keith Barker
The Whipping Man opens tonight, we’ve gotten some great pre-press and I’m looking forward to the show.  Fantastic first person article from Philip Akin for the Charlebois Post – take a read and hope to see you at one of the performances. That’s number 5/5 in the shows opening marathon I’ve been participating in since February 7th – am delighted with the results from them.


February 21, 2013

Video Thursday

My lord it’s cold out. It’s getting to that time of year where we start actively disliking our heavy winter boots, and being annoyed by the amount of time it simply takes to dress to go somewhere.

I was out in it anyway for a meeting with Cahoots Theatre Company and it seems we will be working together in the next few months and I look forward to it.

Man, it’s cold out – videos for you to watch!

First up is Andy McKim – Andy is the AD of Theatre Passe Muraille and they have gotten super good at audience engagement. In this video he says, “we need a sea change in institutional culture if we are to have any impact on issues of engagement.” I completely agree. You should bookmark this and watch it in pieces. Think about it, make notes, take notes, make changes, come up with ideas.

No coals to the castle, this was a really good keynote – you’ll see why I have so much respect for Andy.

Next up! This one has indeed gone viral and once you watch it you’ll see why – it’s mesmerizing, painful in its beauty and very very true. I know sometimes we start watching a video online and then start doing other things as well, but this seven minutes is not the time to multi-task. Attention must be paid.


Got Five? This one might cost you seventy-five cents. Call directory assistance from your provider – cell phone, landline etc and try to get the number for your organization, asking for your company name as people know it/refer to it. Can you get the number?

Check your website on your smart phone – iPhone, Blackberries, Androids, all of them – see if your contact number is immediately visible on your main page, and bonus points if it’s set to dial/connect when you click it.

This has been a PSA for anyone standing in the cold a block from your organization (where they are supposed to be right now) and trying to get a hold of your company by phone.

February 8, 2013

Snow Day!!!

snowstormQuick post today as who knows how many of you are trapped somewhere in the snow.

Was at Theatre Passe Muraille last night for the opening of Shakespeare’s Nigga. I like a show where I walk in and the first thing I say is, “Oh my God, look at the set!!” Trevor Schwellnus has done it again.

Bit of background on this work – it was originally meant to be produced the same year I was working at Passe Muraille and, as happens sometimes, it didn’t happen. Sad, as I was really looking forward to it. So essentially I’ve been waiting for –  six? seven? years to see it. Joe is a great writer, I still use the example of his Born Ready as a play that touched the audience at the time and still gives me chills.

Loved this piece. Loved it. Utterly satisfying work. Brilliant stuff happening on that stage. Congrats to Obsidian Theatre and Passe Muraille and all involved. You need to go see it. Get a ticket.

Also, this is kind of cool: Call for Submissions: Seeking Independent Theatre Companies to Partner and Produce Season

918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education ( and Apuka Theatre ( are accepting proposals from Toronto-based independent theatre companies to help form a new ‘loose association’ of companies based out of 918 Bathurst that will facilitate the development and production of works and enliven the Centre. Read more…

A reminder that I’m teaching in March/April : Arts and Entertainment Administration CDAM 101 at the Chang School!  If you work in the cultural sector as an individual or as a group, Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education can help you develop entrepreneurial skills to support your creative work through a new three-course series in Arts and Entertainment Administration. The course series will provide learners with a blend of practical and theoretical instruction in a format that arts managers, potential arts managers, and individual artists will find suitable for their experience. A key aspect of instruction will be to address issues for both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

Okay get out there – or stay in, whichever and have a good Friday!


October 8, 2012

Cool Stuff Over and Under the Ground

Seems like there’s always a posting about something cool happening artistically in Europe. Here are three cool things happening at and under the street right here at home. Watch for them.

The Songbook Series – Theatre Passe Muraille
The Songbook Series is part of After Hours @ TPM, a late-night cabaret series to compliment the season at Theatre Passe Muraille. Each evening, they celebrate the work of a single artist, group, era or style that has had a significant impact on our collective musical history. Then they invite a variety of musicians from all disciplines to re-imagine that music in their own way. Re-imagination is key— they are NOT looking for a simple acoustic cover. Last season, they featured the music of Elton John, Madonna and The Beach Boys.


Beneath the Surface – October 2012

Celebrating WORKMAN ARTS 25th Anniversary and World Mental Health DayBeneath the Surface is a collection of artist projects exploring what is hidden, sublimated, or just out of reach, to mark World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.
In the very public milieu of the subway platform, visual stories created by 6 Toronto-based artists will play every 10 minutes on the network of Pattison Onestop’s TTC subway platform screens throughout Toronto from October 6 to October 14, 2012. (Image by Catherine Jones: The Red Shoes)
On Oct. 11 the Theatre Centre, now operating out of pop-up space at 1095 Queen Street West, will begin construction to retrofit the historic Carnegie Library at 1115 Queen Street West to create a new, assessable and community oriented arts hub.
All of this is alarmingly appropriate to be thankful for.


July 13, 2012

Final Weekend of Fringe!

Here are your Patrons’ Picks

Rare: Sunday, July 15th at 9:15pm – Tarragon Mainspace
Mahmoud: Sunday, July 15th at 9:15pm – Tarragon Extraspace
Tinfoil Dinosaur: Sunday, July 15th at 7:30pm – Solo Room
One In A Million (a micromusical): Sunday, July 15th at 9:15pm – Randolph Theatre
A Funeral for Clowns: Sunday, July 15th at 9:45pm – Annex Theatre
Help Yourself: Sunday, July 15th at 9:30pm – George Ignatieff Theatre
The Other Three Sisters: Sunday, July 15th at 6:45pm – St. Vlad’s Theatre
Medicine: Sunday, July 15th at 9:15pm – Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
21 Days: Sunday, July 15th at 6:45pm – Robert Gill Theatre
pomme is french for apple: Sunday, July 15th at 6:45pm – Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
With Love and A Major Organ: Sunday, July 15th at 7:30pm – Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
The Dinner: Sunday, July 15th at 9:15pm – Factory Theatre Mainspace

Tickets go on SALE starting at noon on Friday, July 13th.

I myself think you should go see Dirty Butterfly, Ladies In Waiting, The Gravity Hour, and in my very own Fringe-Lottery-within-a-Fringe-Lottery pick – Release the Stars.

Swing by Artists Alley and get yourself a Fringe 2012 necklace, with a dollar from each going to the Fringe. have something to eat, something to drink, catch a tent talk and enjoy yourself – it’s the weekend and it’s FRINGE!

March 13, 2012

A Double PSA Tuesday

A two-fold PSA today – one for Passe Muraille who’re having a rough week with the unfortunate cancellation of Mary Walsh‘s show. I hope she makes a full recovery soon. Never down, TPM has something in the works – see PSA #9 for info from the press release.

Part two is part of the same – a reading of Michael Healey’s Proud, part of the Dancing Without Mary fundraiser for Passe Muraille. Proud will be fully produced in the fall of 2012 – Info and fundraising links for the world premiere of Proud, are here – have a like on Facebook, and click here to donate to support the production of this important work – no donation too great or small!

Couple of media links as well – the Star and CBC.


October 25, 2011

Let’s Not Talk About Branding, Let’s Make Art Instead

Yesterday in Entrepreneuse School we did a unit on branding which was excellent and determined our value proposition as a business.

A value proposition is, in short terms, the reason someone should hire your company instead of one that does similar things.

And we talked about branding, and honestly I am tired of talking about branding. Why? Because I did a google search and it yielded  128,000,000 results  in 0.30 seconds. Lots of people are talking about branding. Lots of people are writing about branding. I don’t need to right now. It’s something I’d rather have a conversation about (in person, not via Facebook – online there’s always someone who’s learned the latest buzzword and starts referring to you as a “conversion” as opposed to a “person”.

I will say one thing that I have always stood by and it’s a simple explanation I learned from Neil Archer Roan:

Your brand is your promise that you make to your customers.

Moving on. Let’s talk about making art.

Call for Submissions: Fall/Winter Artist Residencies at Gibraltar Point Toronto Island, Artscape

I’ve spent time in the Writer’s Wing  at Artscape Lodge and it truly is a magical inspirational place. It is a wonderful getaway to get some work done, a retreat in the truest sense and if you need to make some are and a place to do it surrounded by other people making art, I highly recommend it. The manager Lisa Cristinzo is a true kindred spirit.

Open year-round, the Artscape Lodge program at Artscape Gibraltar Point provides professional artists and arts administrators with a distraction-free environment and the opportunity to focus exclusively on their work.

Cosy up in a furnished private studio and private bedroom, and enjoy amenities such as a fully equipped common kitchen, shared bathrooms, laundry facilities and wireless internet access.

Short-term studio and accommodation rentals are now available at weekly and monthly seasonal rates. Custom and group bookings are also available.

Treat yourself to an island escape of the non-tropical variety and book today! Call 416-392-7834 or email for available dates and details.


Ever been to a show and thought after, “I wish the playwright had asked my opinion“? Wonder no more, for Buzz is Back at Theatre Passe Muraille. I love going to Buzz, I don’t make it as often as I want to, but I’ll try for at least once this fall and  here’s the scoop:

Artistic Director  Andy McKim believes plays cannot develop in isolation. A playwright may think the joke is funny in the privacy of her living room, but the joke in front of a live audience is a different animal. Buzz lets playwrights learn what works before opening night, by soliciting specific audience feedback. After a scene or slice or segment of the play presented, the audience gets time to write down their answers to the questions the playwright has asked. By gaining insight into what is working and what needs clarification, playwrights and companies can create and develop their work in collaboration with an audience.

Each Buzz night includes 2-5 pieces in development, each piece ranging from 10-30 minutes. Included in your Buzz experience is live music, snacks (really good cheese) and a free beverage. The bar is open. Buzz starts at 7:30 each night and runs November 1st – 5th, 2011. Entrance is by donation. A schedule will be on the TPM website:

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