Generator's Executive Director Michael Wheeler and panelists S.Bear Bergman, Michelle MacArthur, Glenn Sumi and Carly Maga talking Theatre Criticism in a digital age at Theatre Passe Muraille on Jan. 13, 2017.

Generator's Executive Director Michael Wheeler and panelists S.Bear Bergman, Michelle MacArthur, Glenn Sumi and Carly Maga talking Theatre Criticism in a digital age at Theatre Passe Muraille on Jan. 13, 2017.


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In partnership with the Toronto Fringe Festival and Next Stage Theatre Festival, we host #UrgentExchanges on important and timely issues for indie artists. To ensure we are discussing the things YOU want to talk about, we crowdsource one of the topics using the hashtag #UrgentExchange, the other we pick from artists’ concerns we keep hearing. These are free events to attend in person and everyone is invited to participate in the conversations leading up to, during and afterwards through the hashtag and via Periscope through @GeneratorTO.  Be part of the exchanges that engage artists from coast to coast debating indie arts issues!


For two weeks people are encouraged to propose topics using the hashtag #UrgentExchange.

Based on retweets and favs, we select the top three finalists which are announced at the Fringe Festival Lottery Party or Fringe Festival Opening.

People then have one week to vote for the final topic via Twitter poll. 


#URGENTEXCHANGE at Toronto Fringe's 30 Anniversary

TOPIC #1 PRECARITY+MENTAL HEALTH= :(                               JULY 10, 5:00-6:30PM

Crowdsourcing a Topic: From June 5-16th, YOU can propose topics using the hashtag #UrgentExchange. Based on retweets and favs, the top three topics become a twitter poll @GeneratorTO where you can vote for what you feel most urgently needs discussing. Poll closes June 26.

You voted! And our crowdsourced topic is all about mental health. With financial instability and short non-secure work contracts, what are the effects to our mental health as artists?

TOPIC #2 THE NEW FACES OF CRITICISM?                                  JULY 13, 5-6:30PM

Generator with NOW Magazine and the University of Toronto launched emerging critics reviewing shows at the Fringe. Join a conversation with these new voices, seasoned professionals, and the audience about the changing faces of criticism.



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As always, the last couple weeks we've crowdsourced topics and voted on the final topic YOU want to discuss at #UrgentExchangethis January in partnership with the Toronto Fringe and the Next Stage Theatre Festival. It was a very close race with the highest number of twitterpoll votes to date. Thank you all for your suggestions and votes and now without further ado, here are our two topics for January's #UrgentExchange:

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DESIRING DIVERSITY, but who can afford to work for free?

Thursday January 4, 7-9pm
Theatre Passe Muraille

The desire to do work with more diversity, inclusivity and accessibility is strong in Toronto’s independent performance community but can our communities be truly inclusive if financial obligations keep many artists out of our rehearsal halls? Who has the ability to ride the financial risk of a career in the arts? What can creators with financial privilege do to shift the systemic classism in the arts? Join us on Thursday, January 4 from 7:00-9:00 PM for a conversation with artists on class and the arts.


Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, playwright and agitator.  Recent works for the stage include Cake (New Harlem Productions), The Only Good Indian (Pandemic Theatre) and Sound of the Beast (Theatre Passe Muraille).  DM endeavours to develop a thoughtful, just and joyful practice.  Upcoming: Forbidden with composer Afarin Mansouri (Tapestry Opera).

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Jivesh Parasram
Jivesh Parasram is a multi-disciplinary artist, facilitator, and researcher of Indo-Caribbean descent. He is a founding member and Artistic Producer of Pandemic Theatre, the Associate Artistic Producer at Theatre Passe Muraille, and gigs about the country where employable. He is a two time “Harold-ee” for his contributions to the Independent Theatre Community of Toronto and a recipient of the Ken McDougal Award for directing.  


Michael Maranda
Michael Maranda is assistant curator at the Art Gallery of York University. For the past thirty years he has been engaged with the visual arts sector in Canada, as artist, organiser, administrator, curator, editor, advocate, publisher, critic, and, more recently, as quantitative researcher. His Waging Culture survey has set the mark for advocacy-based quantitative research in the sector, recognised as the go-to source for socio-economic information on Canadian visual artists.

PLUS a video instigation from theatre creator and facilitator Shaista Latif

Join to the Facebook Event for more info, background reading and updates.

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WHO IS A MONSTER? What makes a Monster? Am I a Monster? #MeToo What next?

Saturday January 6, 1-3pm
Theatre Passe Muraille

Our news feeds and social media have been flooded with how women, men and gender non-conforming folk are treated in our workplaces. New accusations, and firings, are happening almost daily. You tweet #IBelieveYou, but are you wondering if you’ve ever crossed a line? Are you unsure what to do #AfterMeToo? Is #YesAllWomen making you wonder what you aren’t seeing?

Join #UrgentExchange on Saturday, January 6 from 1:00-3:30 PM for an afternoon of learning and unlearning about Toronto’s live performance workplace through different models for change. Come to be heard or to listen. Together we will come up with solutions and strategies for transforming how we make work together and the spaces where art happens.




Container-Building: Facilitating Accountable Creative Spaces
Nikki Shaffeeullah
Producers, directors, arts managers, and others: we design the safety of the creative spaces we inhabit - either by intention or by omission. Most often, 'Monsters' cause harm (sexual violence and otherwise) because their surroundings allow them too. Nikki Shaffeeullah, Artistic Director of The AMY Project, speaks about structures that inhibit safety in our industry, and about purposeful practices that artistic leaders can employ to shift their work spaces into ones that enable greater safety, accessibility, accountability, and creativity. 


How to learn better ways of relating before the big damage happens
Brook Thorndycraft

How can we take a preventative approach to the issue of sexual harassment, bullying and assault in the arts and theatre community? To build equitable and inclusive workplaces and communities, it’s essential for all of us to develop our capacity to accept feedback that helps us learn from and shift our attitudes and behaviours before they lead us to a crisis. Led by Brook Thorndycraft, a mediator, coach and facilitator working in the field of conflict transformation. 


Violence in Theatre: Staging Triggering Material
The JONNO team

As artists, we want to shine a light on challenging issues. But where do we draw the line between being empowering and exploitative? We understand that there is value in discomfort, but how do we avoid harming our audiences? Producer Mirka Loiselle, director Paul Van Dyck, and actor Erica Anderson reflect on these questions while discussing their experience with JONNO, a show at the Next Stage Theatre Festival that aggressively tackles the issue of sexual assault.

Sharing the power, sharing the freedom.
Thalia Kane

In the midst of our current climate and the cultural shift occurring, what is our responsibility? What can we do? In the entertainment industry, unions and associations are stepping up. Ecuadorian-Canadian artist Thalia Kane speaks about ‘Not In OUR Space’, a new initiative from Equity. The time for change is now and it is the responsibility of everyone. 

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Intimacy for the Stage
Scott Emerson Moyle

This discipline, developed by Oklahoma-based movement professional Tonia Sina, creates a safe space in the rehearsal room for staging content involving romantic or sexual intimacy. Trained intimacy directors guide artists through potentially challenging content with exercises and practises that centre communication, choreography, and - above all - consent. Led by director, producer, actor and intimacy coach Scott Emerson Moyle.


Bystander Intervention
Sedina Fiati

One person in one moment with one action can make a difference. Maybe you didn’t act in the past when you wanted to. Forgive yourself. It’s time for a new paradigm. Time to learn the skills to go from bystander to professional intervener. Take a breath. Asses the situation and act. We need you and we need each other.

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Conflict resolution processes and strategies for healthy work environments
Pippa Feinstein BA (Hons), JD.

Pippa will introduce and discuss different types of conflict resolution processes and how they work. She will also address how they can be applied to performance-art environments to better ensure healthy and appropriate workplace behaviour. The subsequent break out session will include an opportunity to practice specific strategies in role-playing scenarios.

Counsellor on site: Alexia Dyer.

Alexia Dyer is a therapist at East End Therapy where she offers individual and couples counselling. She began her career as a sexual assault trauma counsellor in Winnipeg and has worked for many years in Toronto as a counsellor, mediator, educator and facilitator. Her career path has reflected her capacity to be empathic and non-judgmental while working to further social change. Alexia uses she/her pronouns and identifies as a queer, white settler.



THERE’S MORE! Bystander Intervention (with Sedina Fiati) and Container Building (with Nikki Shaffeeullah).  

Join to the Facebook Event for more info, background reading and updates. 

#UrgentExchange are free events in partnership with Toronto Fringe and hosted by Theatre Passe Muraille. 


Entrance: Double doors with ramp (not to code); there is no automatic button.

Washrooms: Gendered washrooms with an accessible washroom in each one (no automatic button).

Mainspace: Can accommodate people with mobility devices.

Assistive Devices: You are welcome to bring your own assistive devices (canes, wheelchairs, walkers, etc.) to the theatre. Our team will help with the storage and retrieval of your equipment. Please speak to any member of the Generator or TPM Front of House staff for more information when you are on-site.

Elevator/Escalator: There are no elevators or escalators at this theatre.

THURSDAY at #DesiringDiversity: Chairs will be set up lecture-style and mobility devices will be accommodated. There will be a live video stream via Periscope. Speakers will be miked.

SATURDAY at #WhoIsAMonster: The first portion of the event will have chairs set up lecture-style; mobility devices will be accommodated. There will be a live video stream via Periscope and speakers will be miked. For the next portion (approx. 30 minutes), people will be circulating throughout various locations in the space. Some of these locations require stairs. If you have any concerns, please contact us and we will make sure that what is of interest to you is set up in an accessible location.

More info: http://passemuraille.ca/access-at-tpm. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


MID-CAREER CRISIS: Can you get your mojo back?*

Monday, July 10, 5-6:30pm at Neville's Nook Tent @ The Fringe Club

*AS PICKED BY YOU! Hannes Schwandt, a researcher with Princeton University states that "Mid-career crises are, in fact, a widespread regularity, rather than the misfortune of a few individuals." If satisfaction is indeed a U-shaped curve what can we learn from those who have gone before and how can we create new opportunities in our practice and in our lives? Join the respected panelists David Yee (Artistic Director at fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company),  Deanna Fleyser (Fringe artist, Butt Kapinski), Elenna Mosof (CEO of The Mission Business & Life Coach) and moderator Kristina Lemieux as we delve into ups and downs of mid-career. #UrgentExchange

MISSED THE CONVERSATION? We captured all the tweets in a coherent thread with Storify. Read it on our vlog. 


Thursday, July 13, 5-6:30pm at the Neville's Nook Tent @ The Fringe Club

How can we balance what we do for love vs. what we do to live and is there room for overlap? Is it possible to find work that inspires you artistically and pays the bills? 

Let’s collect our experiences and share our strategies on balancing the beast of living in Toronto with being inspired as artists. You might be the novice or you might be the expert at this #UrgentExchange.

MISSED THE CONVERSATION? We captured all the tweets in a coherent thread with Storify. Read it on our vlog. 

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Thursday Jan 12th, 20177:00pm-8:30pm
Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave

*Twitter sourced topic* When reviews can be crowdsourced and galvanized with a click of a button, what does that mean for theatre criticism? Generator's Executive Director Michael Wheeler leads a discussion on the on criticism in a self-publishing digital age. Are there new parameters to determining merit and informing audiences? Do critics require qualifications? What IS a review? Join the panel to discuss if we should we embrace all opinions as equal or leave theatre criticism to the experts.


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S.Bear Bergman is a storyteller, a theater artist, an instigator, a gender-jammer, and a good example of what happens when you overeducate a contrarian.  He has great faith in the power of theatre to make change, and has been putting his money where his mouth is on that one for some time. A writer, performer, and lecturer, Bear works full time as an artist and cultural worker and is a Senior Writer for Mooney on Theatre.


Carly Maga is a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, and has covered Toronto theatre since 2010. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University and a Master's in Theatre and Performance Studies from York University.



Michelle MacArthur is Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor's School of Dramatic Art. She is editor-in-chief of alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage and co-editor of the Fall 2016 issue of Canadian Theatre Review on Theatre Criticism. Her research on theatre criticism in the digital age has been published in Theatre Research in Canada, CTR, and the edited collection, Theatre Criticism: Changing Landscapes (2016).



Glenn Sumi is the associate entertainment editor (stage/film) at Toronto’s NOW Magazine where he’s written about theatre, film, dance and comedy for over 15 years. He’s written for several newspapers and magazines, has been a pop culture correspondent for CBC Radio and, for three years, was a weekly arts contributor to CTV NewsChannel’s weekend show.

 Group shot of the brave participants wanting to tackle challenges with hiring practices in Canadian theatre at  The White Guy Shuffle  on Jan 15, 2017.

Group shot of the brave participants wanting to tackle challenges with hiring practices in Canadian theatre at The White Guy Shuffle on Jan 15, 2017.


Check out our vlog post with responses to this #UrgentExchange! (click to go to the vlog)

Sunday Jan 15th 2017.  2:00pm-3:30pm
Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave

This past year over half a dozen Artistic Director jobs were up for grabs across Canada. While many were excited at the chance to finally diversify the leadership of some of our country's most recognizable institutions, all of the positions were filled by white men. How can we influence boards and hiring committees to change homogenous hiring practices? Come participate in a community conversation that will examine the mechanics of how these decisions are made and strategize how the community can be of influence. 

Some background reading to prepare for the discussion (links in the article title):


Monday January 11th, 2016 @ 7:30pm
The Hoxton, 69 Bathurst Street

With the surge of storefront theatres in Toronto, indie artists are moving away from studio theatres in favour of more transient locations. Is this a sustainable model or simply the latest fad? Many wonder if it is truly helpful in developing audiences. Join our esteemed panel as we discuss the future of the storefront movement.

Panelists: Claire Burns, Diana Bentley and Cole Alvis


Tuesday January 12th, 2016 @ 7:30pm
The Hoxton, 69 Bathurst Street

A candid and informative discussion on the ever elusive career in professional theatre. Is there enough work available in Canada to expect regular employment? Can you sustain a decent lifestyle on your artistic earnings? Our panelists will speak from their own personal experience, offering thoughts on the challenges of raising a family as an artist, preserving mental health amidst multiple projects, and sustaining passion for your art.

Panelists: Marjorie Chan, Richard Rose and Nigel Shawn Williams


Sunday, January 17, 2016 @ 7:30pm
The Hoxton, 69 Bathurst Street