The Playgoer: Toronto's "Wrecking Ball"

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Toronto's "Wrecking Ball"

Just when we were bemoaning the state of political theatre in New York, even our lucky Canadian brethren aren't happy. Here's the story of one troupe claiming Toronto's just as "timid."

In some ways this is an interesting model for a political company:

With its motto of bringing the headlines into the theatre, The Wrecking Ball asks Canadian playwrights to write short plays following two rules:

1) The plays must be based on current world events -- right here, right now; and

2) They must be written in one week, then rehearsed briefly and thrown raw before a hungry audience.

But do they have to insist on one week? Yes, we want plays current and raw. But still worked on. And good. No point in putting up first drafts that aren't ready so audiences can decry unfinished scripts as flimsy "agitrprop." How about 4 weeks?

Likewise I'm suspect of the growing interest in "24-hour plays" and similar stunts when playwrights are given an overnight deadline to write on commission for a group of actors and occasion. (Like this.) Fine for the occasional fundraiser or exercise. But such constraints are so arbitrary and not necessarily connected to good work. (As we shall have to see with Suzan-Lori Parks' "365 Plays.")

Still, something to be said for theatre being current again. We need that even more than "timeless" plays now.

And it sure beats years of "development hell."


parabasis said...

Hey Playgoer,

What's funny about this, is that I run a group that does the same thing here in New York City. We're called The Rapid Response Team. We do new short plays, sketches and songs based on the news. It's all made in a week. We do it once a month. If people are interested in checking it out, we will soon be announcing our fall dates and they can check our website at

I don't mean to comment spam you. In this case it actually seemed kind of relevant. If you want, I'd love to discuss what the difficulties/ramifications of doing this kind of work are. In other words, if you have any questions about it, feel free to contact me. Hell, we can even do a cross blog thing about it.

Playgoer said...

Well I'm sure glad it's not limited to Toronto!

I will definitely check out your site, Isaac, and encourage all to do the same.