Michael R Caplan
Concordia University (Montreal) / Bachelor of Fine Arts, Contemporary Dance (1984–87)
York University (Toronto) / Fine Arts Studies (1982–84)
Theatre with instructors such as Philippe Gaulier & Monica Pagneaux of École Jacques Lecoq (Paris), Dean Gilmour, Thom Sokoloski & Mike Petersen (Toronto) – including improvisation, mask, clown, ensemble work, scene study, puppetry
Multi-media & performance art with Toby MacLennan (Toronto), Tom Graff (Vancouver) and Rina Fratecelli (Montreal)
Dance composition, technique & improvisation with Contraband (San Francisco), T.I.D.E., Denise Fujiwara, Dawne Carleton (Toronto), Elizabeth Langley, Lisa McLellan, Marie Chouinard, Andrew Harwood, Michael Montanaro (Montreal)
Singing with Micah Barnes (Toronto)
Other training in arts management, sales, Adobe InDesign, etc.
Always drawn to page design, Michael produced a science fiction fanzine in grade 10 (using Letraset, an IBM Selectric and a mimeograph machine) and dabbled with art-books in university. While working in theatre and dance in the early 80s, he helped create press kits and fundraising pieces, then wrote and designed marketing materials during his time with two Montreal special events companies. In 1990 he started working freelancing professionally in the field, never losing a major client in over two decades, and then in 2017 established House of ShAkE as a vehicle both for project production and client services.
A Handbook for Ecstatic Survival by David Earle (House of ShAkE, Toronto, 2017)
Design, editing, layout & typesetting for this first book published by House of ShAkE, in hardcover and paperback.
Study for "A Handbook for Ecstatic Survival” by David Earle (House of ShAkE, Toronto, 2016)
Book design, editing, layout and typesetting of this prototype, published in a limited hardcover run and sold to raise funds toward the Handbook.
Ansible Marketing (Toronto, 2016–2020)
Research, copywriting and copyediting of two monthly newsletters for the real estate industry.
ISPDI (International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority, 2014–2018)
Editing, design and layout of programs for annual conferences.
Dance Collection Danse Press/Presses (Toronto, 2004–2018)
Design and layout, as well as some minor editorial assistance, on 27 issues of the DCD Magazine, between the passing of one of the organization’s co-founders and editors, Laurence Adams, and the retirement of the other, Miriam Adams. Other projects included catalogues for this Canadian dance history archive and publisher, as well as the book David Earle: A Choreographic Biography.
David Earle: A Choreographic Biography (Toronto, 2006)
Design, layout and typesetting of book by Michele Green documenting the life and works of David Earle, founder of Toronto Dance Theatre and Dancetheatre David Earle. Described by Leland Windreich in Ballet-Dance Magazine as a “magnificent new volume” and by Michael Crabb in Dance International as “elegantly designed”, the book was selected by Susan Walker of The Toronto Star – who praised its “beautiful production”– as part of “The Complete Dance Library”, 2006.
Spring Journal & Books (New Orleans, 2008–2010)
Book design, typesetting and copyediting for Spring Journal and Books, including C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions by renowned Dakota Sioux author Vine Deloria, Jr., The Call to Create by bestselling Jungian author Linda Schierse Leonard, the play Mary of Magdala by the distinguished Portuguese writer, Armando Nascimento Rosa, C.G. Jung in the Humanities by Susan Rowland, and Psyche & the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis, edited by Thomas Singer. See the feature at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/psyche-and-the-city-a-sou_b_717744
Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie (Toronto, 2000-2015) & Bill Coleman, choreographer (to date)
Copywriting, copyediting, design and layout, including development and branding of promotional materials, press kits, grant applications, newsletters, etc.
CMAS (Childminding Monitoring Advisory & Support; Toronto, 1998-2012)
Copywriting, copyediting, design and layout for this independent consulting firm contracted to the LINC childminding program (see below), managed by Citizenship & Immigration Canada. Projects included branding, manuals, booklets, policy documents, newsletters, resources and checklists, reports, forms, posters and website development.
LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada; Toronto, 2002-2012)
Copywriting, copyediting, branding, design, layout and liaison with printers for LINC, which offers childcare and resources for families of adults attending English classes. Documents included manuals, policy documents, calendars, and all materials for Nurturing New Roots: Supporting the Newcomer Family, the Ontario LINC Childminders Professional Development Conference. Member of the 2008 Steering Committee.
Other clients have included Dancetheatre David Earle, the Toronto District School Board, I Furiosi Baroque Ensemble, Carol Priest Entertainment, the International Trade Club of Toronto, and other small businesses, non-profit organizations and artists.
Michael also created and produced all the promotional materials for his own projects in other areas, include “The Tempest” Trailer and all the posters for his singing shows and the packaging for the 2006 CD, Steelpan Country.
Performance / Theatre, dance
Directing public school friends in classroom shows and appearing as “Fagin” in a Grade 6 production of Oliver! led to more than four decades of study, performing and creation, including an abiding interest in the experiments of the 1960s and 70s in America and Europe.
Michael’s initial focus switched to contemporary dance in the early 1980s, though he never intending to dance professionally but rather to gain a different perspective on the live performance form. With a similar intent, he went into the related field of special event planning and coordination for major corporations, conventions and non-profit organizations, having already gained experience in teaching and administration.
He teamed up with choreographers Bill Coleman and Penny Couchie in the mid-90s to found Heartland Events, which created community celebrations in the city and in northern Ontario. Directing productions of his own through Cabbagetown Theatre Company gave him the confidence to eventually self-produce a successful adaptation of The Tempest in 2008. He “returned to dance” ” at age 52 in 2016, to study with Dawne Carleton and perform in her work, Ordinary Joy.
Ordinary Joy (Quixotic Sounds, Toronto, 2016)
Collaborator and dancer in this quartet directed by Dawne Carleton, a series of structured improvisations to live music, for the release of the album Ordinary Joy by The Cluttertones.
The “Tempest” Trailer (The Citadel, Toronto; 2008)
Directed, edited and self-produced a 60-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.
Grasslands: Where Heaven Meets Earth (Val Marie, Saskatchewan, 2004)
Assistant to director Bill Coleman on this site-specific event on the plains of southern Saskatchewan and in the town of Val Marie. Created in collaboration with over one hundred local participants and major Canadian artists such as Margie Gillis, composer Gordon Monahan, choreographer David Earle, and visual artist Edward Poitras. A five day residency was followed by a day-long series of presentations and performances, half of which took place in the village and was coordinated by Michael Caplan.
Heartland Events (Toronto & Northern Ontario, 1992-1995)
Co-Artistic Director with Bill Coleman and Penny Couchie, creating events with communities and organizations including the Ojibway of Heron Bay/Pic River (The Heron Bay Project, 1993, and Imagination Gone Wild, 1994), Pedahbun Lodge Addiction Treatment Centre, the International Trade Club of Toronto, and the Toronto People With Aids Foundation. Funded by the Laidlaw Foundation and by the Ontario and Canada Councils.
Contact Improvisation duets (Toronto, mid-90s)
Short performances with Pam Johnson and John Oswald, at Toronto venues including the Music Gallery and Artword Centre.
Shadows of Angels (Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto; 1995)
Director of two “theatre noir” shorts, for Cabbagetown Theatre Company.
Walking In Virginia (Homeworks Series, Toronto; 1995)
Singer and dancer in this solo directed by Pam Johnson.
Murderland (Toronto; 1993)
Director of this collaboratively-created, participatory surrealistic murder mystery dinner theatre with Cabbagetown Theatre Company, developed as a fundraising event for Central Neighbourhood House, Toronto.
Paradox (Toronto; 1992)
Assistant director and co-author of this production for the North York Board of Education.
Théâtre 9, Inc. (Montreal; 1988)
Administrative assistant in charge of corporate fundraising and media relations for production of Le Chemin, by Bertin St-Pierre (Théâtre de la Veillée).
Body of Possibilities (Les Foufounes Électriques and the Festival du soleil, Montreal; 1987)
Assistant event organizer, administrator and stage manager for this series of dances by five contemporary choreographers, presented at the famous underground nightclub and at the outdoors festival.
What Happened (Toronto; 1984)
Director – and creator of additional choreography and texts – for an adaptation of this dance/text piece by seminal avant-garde choreographer David Gordon, staged for performance by eight Grade 6 students and presented at York University.
Stories for J’s B-day (Montreal; 1985)
Original solo performance in various spaces in his own apartment in Montreal, using storytelling, paper puppets, breaking dishes and kitchen polkas.
Starring … (Toronto; 1981)
Assistant director and co-author of this original youth theatre production with a cast of 65.
Endgame (Theatre Centre, Toronto; 1981)
Apprentice to director Thom Sokoloski for this Theatre Autumn Leaf production of the play by Samuel Beckett.
Michael has taught classes for youth, for adults of all ages, for teachers and, in Montreal, for clients of psychiatric community centres. Workshop subjects included movement, Contact Improvisation and multimedia arts creation through organizations including Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Theatre, the North York Board of Education, Young People’s Theatre and more.
Carol Priest Entertainment (Toronto; 1997-2002)
Event creation and artist bookings for corporate clients.
McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario, 1997)
Special Events Coordinator for corporate clients of the world-renowned gallery and grounds, helping develop and coordinate opening parties, corporate functions and the major annual fund-raiser for this renowned institution founded on the works of Canada’s Group of Seven.
Innovations Plus, Inc. (Montreal; 1989-91)
Event creation and coordination for corporate, non-profit and private clients, including devising and executing thematic and participatory celebrations for groups of 10 to 2,000. Clients included O’Keefe Breweries, Wrigley Canada, Loto-Québec, Bendix Avelex Aerospace, IBM and the Montreal Board of Trade.
A singer of popular favourites and obscure oldies from “the great North American songbook” – classic country, blues, bluegrass, folk, rockabilly, R&B and standards – Michael rocked his first house in 2004. It was the Val Marie Hotel in Saskatchewan, just north of the Montana border, for the closing of Grasslands, the community event on which he’d assisted director Bill Coleman. Going on for a couple of songs, the audience wouldn’t let him stop until they closed the bar at 2am…
He’d been singing with friends since 1990 but only in public once, as part of Walking In Virginia, a dance/music solo created for him by Pam Johnson (Homeworks, Toronto, 1995). But after this experience – his ideal debut: for a mix of cowboy ranchers and modern dancers! – he went on to bring his singular style to all kinds of venues and to diverse audiences of all backgrounds.
Ogopogo Life (Toronto, 2019)
Opened this family-friendly daytime EDM rave with a set of country songs, put on by Michael Catania’s Ogopogo Life Association.
Tunesmith (Imperial Pub Backroom, Toronto; 2018)
One of three performers sharing the evening in this regular series organized by Mike Thorner.
White Rabbit (Freiburg, Germany; 2013)
Solo set at this underground (literally) German music club – the first country act they’d had, and a big hit with the audience.
Market Hall (Peterborough, ON; 2011)
Sang with Bill Coleman tap-dancing as part of the event announcing the naming of a dance floor in honour of Public Energy director and local “arts champion” Bill Kimball.
Local venues (Toronto; 2011-2014)
Solo gigs, as well as guest spots with The Slocan Ramblers and Whitney Rose (earlier in the Toronto careers of these now-rising stars), at venues including the Winchester Bar (where Billie Holiday sang!), the Underdown Pub, Cloak & Dagger and the Local GEST. Also organized shows featuring guest performers such Bill Coleman, Whitney Rose and members of The Slocan Ramblers, and local blues harmonica legend “Cabbagetown Steve” Grant.
Brother, can you spare a dime? (Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto; 2009)
Singing the old union song, “Which Side Are You On?” a cappella, in a duet with dancer Tanya Crowder as part of this evening of works by independent choreographer Pam Johnson.
LGBTQ Pride Day (Toronto, 2009-2011)
Performed in the Free Zone for three years running (in 2009 with Wayne Cass on electric guitar, and with Ben Rough on guitar and harmonica in 2010).
NDH Aria (Regina, SK; 2008)
Performed two songs by invitation of the founder and director of New Dance Horizons, Robin Poitras (who’d heard him perform in Grasslands and at a party in Toronto), during this performance art fashion show to celebrate Regina artists and fundraise for NDH.
“The Power of Ideas: Celebrating the Work of James Hillman” (Pittsburgh, PA; 2008)
Sang as part of this conference for renowned cultural psychologist James Hillman, including a duet with Bill Coleman tap-dancing (and Bill taught James, amateur tapper, a step or two after the performance).
Street performances (Toronto; 2007 and 2012-13)
For Honest Ed’s Birthday Event and for the Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area, among others, then for two years as part of the Cabbagetown Festival, including with blues rock band Code Green and with guests The Slocan Ramblers (now a Canadian bluegrass sensation).
Steelpan Country (CD recorded at Donkey Studios, Toronto; 2006)
Vocals and guitar on 11 songs by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and others, with virtuoso Cree steel drum player Gabriel Chartrand.
Electric Eclectics (Meaford, Ontario; 2006)
The duet caught the ear of Canadian composer/sound artist Gordon Monahan, who invited them to perform at his music festival in rural Ontario – where they stuck out like the only unsore thumbs in a line-up of extreme experimentalists from all over the world.
The Grasshopper Bar (Cabbagetown, Toronto; 2005-2007)
Weekly shows (“Whether they wanted me to or not!”) in this local watering hole. Met and began collaborating with Gabriel Chartrand.
Theory / Writing
Michael’s early writing efforts, beyond his self-published fanzine, led to publication in the Concordia University student newspaper, The Link, as well as in The Body Politic, Canada’s first major gay publication, where he had been volunteering. He became serious about writing after discovering the post-Jungian cultural psychology of James Hillman and, later, Wolfgang Giegerich. The work of the latter is focus of the ISDPI, of which Michael was an Executive Committee member for two years. The Society’s events and newsletter provided a forum for the development of his theoretical writing, which focuses on the connection of language and religion, the relationship of “theory” and “theatre” (they share the same root word), and the historical transformations of “the meaning of meaning”.
“Thinking Trinity: Beyond the Life and Death of God” (Berlin; 2012)
“Revolt or Revolution? Hillman, Giegerich and the Completion of the Psychological Move”
(ISDPI Newsletter, 2013)
“The Initiation of the Word” (Berlin; 2014)
“A Figure of Thought in Motion, for a Moment of Truth” (Malibu, CA; 2016)
“Dumb as a Rock; or, The ‘Outside’ of Interiority” (Toronto; 2017)
“Real / Soul / Truth: Nothing less; nothing more” (ISPDI Newsletter; 2017)
“One Full R/evolution: Revelation of the Logos, Re/turn of the Real” (Dublin; 2018)
“Meaning now (that ‘nothing is sacred’) (ISPDI newsletter; 2018)
“Reflections on ‘Soul’ as the ‘Truth’ of the ‘Real’” (virtual conference; 2020)
Michael has been involved with the administration of a number of organizations, serving on boards and on executive and working committees.
Puppetmongers (Toronto; 2019-date)
Member of the Board of Directors of this company, established in 1974 by the sister and brother Co-Artistic Director team of Ann Powell and David Powell, and today internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in the field.
DACHI (Don Area Cooperative Homes, Inc.) (Toronto; 2008-date)
Member of the Rent Supplement Committee (and previously of the Administration Committee).
ISPDI (International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority) (2016-2017)
Ontario LINC Childminders Professional Development Conference (Toronto; 2008)
Document designer and member of the Steering Committee for the conference “Nurturing New Roots: Supporting the Newcomer Family”.
The International Trade Club of Toronto (Toronto; 1992-2002)
Administrative organizer of luncheon events, mailing and membership lists, finances and participation in the Executive Committee of this non-profit association of public- and private-sector trade officers.
DACHI (Don Area Cooperative Homes, Inc.) (Toronto; 1993-95)
Two-time Member, Board of Directors.
Cabbagetown Theatre Company (Toronto; 1993-94)
Member, Founding Board of Directors.