Overview of the House
A singular company – production house/publishing house/“public house” – House of ShAkE offers a “home away from home” for independent authors and creators whose projects in print, performance, music and other media reach across conventional target-markets, audiences, perspectives, genres and forms.
Michael R. Caplan is “host” and “head of the House” – bringing to the role of Executive & Artistic Director decades of experience in all areas of the company’s activities, and a lifelong vision of the whole.
House of ShAkE …
develops, distributes and presents works distinguished by their authenticity, creative care and crossover appeal – the “House style”;
produces, co-produces, collaborates with individuals and organizations, and initiates its own projects;
has access to a network of performers, musicians and contributors for “in-House” activities;
aims to establish a permanent bricks-and-mortar venue – a “home base” for performances, gatherings, discussions, exhibitions, book and product sales and more (for which Michael’s apartment currently stands in, hosting small private events and intimate shows);
manages its income-generating activities to combine the benefits of a non-profit, charitable structure with the boldness of a for-profit approach (inspired partly by Shakespeare’s mix of patronage and popularity).
As “architect” of the House, Michael had always dreamed of a welcoming space at the crossroads of different “worlds” – a point of convergence where people could entertain ideas and each other, and a hub for the publication and dissemination of extraordinary discoveries. Now as “Renaissance Man” of the House, all Michael’s prior experiences can come into play: production and administration, theatre direction, contemporary dance, community creation, special event planning, typography and print layout, editing and writing, as well as singing.
House of ShAkE is honoured to have launched in 2017 with David Earle’s A Handbook for Ecstatic Survival, a selection of original images and writings by the choreographer and master teacher, founder of Toronto Dance Theatre and Member of the Order of Canada. Edited and designed by Michael and co-produced with Dancetheatre David Earle, the book now forms the basis of a website, a planned speaking tour and a series of offshoot projects based on its themes – Dancers, Art, Martha Graham (he was her student), Eros …
David is the first of two House of ShAkE Residents – creators involved in long-term, large-scale or multiple projects. The other is Gilles Goyette, with a book of poetry, a filmic DVD photo-essay, and an album of soundpaintings (and the honourary title of “First Supermodel” for his role in the House’s “interior remodeling”).
House of ShAkE Guests are engaged in shorter-term and smaller-scale ventures, such as world-renowned dancer/choreographer Bill Coleman with a book reflecting on his love of boxing, and recalling years of attending matches at the legendary Montreal Forum.
We do our own House Work, too: in-House projects such as Stage-A-Page (an educational and promotional resource) and Michael’s two theatre projects, Back to “Bakkhai” (…), a touring house-performance that features a gently-rehearsed Chorus of local volunteers, and Prospero’s Puppets, a “Mobile Meta-Theatrickal” for all ages.
Virtual and live “visitors” to the House can find project portals in the Residential Suites and Guest Rooms on the homepage, and attend House Showings at the “home base” or at off-site locations (House on the Road).
Musical events include House Parties with DJs and other guest performers, and shows by Michael and the House Band of ShAkE, playing “down home” music for all kinds of audiences and occasions, and spreading the company name to all kinds of potential audiences.
The House of ShAkE Players, under Michael’s direction, are a core group of creative performers for in-House productions, and for workshopping a set of techniques to facilitate the quick staging of book excerpts for Performing the Library, an in-House series that draws on materials (plays, literature, non-fiction, historical documents) from the Library of ShAkE, and that can tour to other public and private collections.
The Library of ShAkE – at the “heart of the House” – is a curated collection with a special focus on language, our collective human “house of shake”: subterranean foundations, infinite variations, always in motion! The Library is also a resource for projects, and an homage to the book as an enduring, evolving cultural form.
Finally, with House Calls, House of ShAkE offers its expert consulting, creative and production services for client publications, private and corporate celebrations, commissioned events and more.
The Name: House of ShAkE
“The word ‘house’ has always been important to me – suggesting warmth, structure, security. As a form of enterprise, the notion of a ‘publishing/production/public house’ captures my ideal mix, along with the suggestion of a ‘fashion house’ where consistency emerges from a unique sensibility carried across different lines and products.
‘Shake’ jumped out at me from a translation of the I Ching, the ancient Chinese book of divination, where it is emblematic for a time of thunderous change. And I like the word’s “Shake it!” association, and the distant hint of ‘Shakespeare.’
The words together perfectly describe my ‘mobile home’ – so I hope you’ll visit with me and my ‘company’. (The odd capitalization is another story … Though it looks a bit like a row of buildings, doesn’t it?)” – M.R.C.