By Tommy Taylor. Directed by Michael Wheeler. A Praxis Theatre production in association with the Original Norwegian. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Friday, September 27. Continues until October 5
I left the theatre furious. That’s a good thing.
Writer and performer Tommy Taylor was one of the more than 1,000 people who were detained during the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. A 2012 report from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director called the treatment of those arrested the “most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.”
In You Should Have Stayed Home: A G20 Romp!, Taylor mostly sits behind a desk and delivers his story à la Spalding Gray. Having a humble personal witness spit out the details is compelling.
Taylor, who had attended the first protest of his life earlier on the day of his arrest, got swept up in another peaceful protest on his way home. Police surrounded the small group, provided no way for them to exit, and arrested everybody, including people who happened to be going to restaurants in the neighbourhood. Taylor was handcuffed and held in a 200-square-foot cage with 40 other bound men. There was so little food and water that, before he was released almost 24 hours later, he passed out from dehydration. At no point was he allowed access to a lawyer or even a phone.
This production, which was directed by Michael Wheeler, includes simple and effective theatrics. Thomas Ryder Payne’s sound design is appropriately ominous and includes impactful details: Taylor smacks his hands on his desk and the clang that reverberates evokes the chill of living in a police state.
Outrageously, there have been no significant and public repercussions for any of the top cops who were responsible for the abuses. And of course our prime minister, Stephen Harper, declined to launch a federal inquiry.
But there’s something essentially optimistic about You Should Have Stayed Home. It’s a huge relief that this show is talking about Canadian politics and Canadian lives—unlike the Arts Club’s Other Desert Cities, for instance. And, for this Canadian citizen at least, there’s hope in sharing anger that’s directed at the powerful who are dismantling our democracy.