Green Fools Theatre is a non-profit, charitable society that creates, performs, and teaches
physical theatre arts focusing on masks, clown, puppets, stilts, and circus for diverse audiences locally and internationally.
We utilize a variety of physical theatre, puppet and mask techniques as well as multiple artistic disciplines to tell our original stories, producing puppet shows and physical theatre productions that are literally out of the box inspired by our wondrous and mysterious world. With an eye on the past and hands on tradition, Green Fools Theatre also strives to advance our work and our art form by inventing and engineering new puppetry styles and ways of storytelling as well as innovative artistic processes merging content and form to create new world mythology.
Our work is new and contemporary, handcrafted, original, and collaboratively created.
Green Fools Theatre reaches tens of thousands of audience members each year through performances, community events, festivals, and creative training by extensive local touring, as well as some National and International touring.
Established in 1991 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Green Fools Theatre aspires to be a central creative hub in which artists of diverse backgrounds continually come together to explore and intertwine circus, theatre, puppetry, mask and physical theatre, manifesting creative works and training programs for the public and other artists. Green Fools aims to create theatre shows that tour internationally and garner local and international attention and reputation for artistic excellence. Green Fools aspires to be the ‘go to’ place for circus arts in Calgary. Children and professionals learn and grow at camps and workshops that build confidence, skills, self-esteem, and teamwork. Green Fools aims to have a versatile venue that can house ongoing circus training camps, provide workshop, building, rehearsal and performance space for new theatre works and a vital creative centre for Calgary artists and groups. Green Fools inspires a supportive, productive environment in which artists, audiences, and participants can expand, grow, create, and evolve.
ARTISTIC MISSION STATEMENT
Green Fools Theatre is committed to developing and promoting the arts of mask, puppetry, circus, and physical performance.
The furtherance of this aim will include:
• The education of the community on these subjects through workshops to schools and community organizations
• The making of public presentations/ performances using these techniques for diverse audience
• The maintenance of a studio space.
As an organization, Green Fools Theatre is committed to ensuring that the actions of the company hold true to the following principles:
1. Community Outreach – We connect to the larger community through the work we create.
2. Original Creation – We develop all aspects of the creations we share: the play, the design, the materials, the artists, the instructors, etc.
3. Perseverance – Our focus is on long-range goals.
4. Preservation – We cultivate the arts of puppetry, mask, physical theatre, and clown.
5. Nurturing – We support so they can thrive.
6. Inclusive – We bring together diverse ideas, perspectives and styles to create great work.
7. Inspiring – We inspire and are inspired by the people with whom we work.
MEET THE TEAM
DEAN BAREHAM: Co-artistic Director, Co-founder
Born and raised in Calgary, Dean is of British, Sik Sika Blackfoot, and Cree descent.
The youngest of four children, Dean grew up in the Ogden neighbourhood- at the time an area with high rates of poverty and challenges. Dean found his gift for performance early and began singing and dancing in the company at Calaway park; theatre became a positive path out of trouble.
Dean also had visual art abilities and he became a sculpture major at the Alberta College of Art & Design. He found a blend of performance and visual arts here pushing the boundaries into performance art. He then attended the Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California, focusing on Mask and Mythology. Once he finished school, Dean co-founded the Green Fools in 1991 and toured the globe as a stilt walker and street performer. As the company evolved, Dean began to craft and create puppets and masks and theatre shows. He also began to teach. Dean has worked extensively with kids from marginalized backgrounds and has provided programs that have been a life line for kids in need.
Dean has taught workshops at numerous schools and universities, including the Dell’ Arte School, University of Calgary. He teaches youth-at-risk in northern Canadian communities and is proud to be a part of the Winnipeg CAMPP (Circus And Magic Partnership Program) as well as Green Fools own Social Circus Programs. These camps target inner city youth at risk, new immigrant youth, and first nation youth. Dean regularly teaches for Cirqiniq, an intervention based partnership program with Cirque du Soleil and the Katavik regional government in Nunavik, QC. Dean has taught workshops all across the globe including; Lesotho, Africa, New Zealand, and Japan.
Dean continues to perform, his alter ego, Gustavo the Impossiblist, is infamous world-wide. He has performed solo and with the Fools in the Europe, South America, Macedonia, New Zealand, Africa, the US and Canada. Dean has performed with Cirque du Soleil at the Luminato festival in Toronto, and “Paintbrush for Piccolo” with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and “Marita and Her Hearts Desire” with the Calgary Pro Musica Society.
When not performing or teaching, you’ll find Dean creating, designing, building and painting puppets, masks, props and sets for Green Fools projects. Dean was named one of Avenue Magazines Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary and was awarded the ATB Financial Healing Through the Arts Award at the Calgary Mayor’s Luncheon of the Arts.
JENNIE ESDALE: Co-artistic Director
Jennie is a writer, director, actor and theatre maker. She is Co-Artistic Director of Green Fools Theatre. Recently, Jennie was Artist in Residence of the Michael Wright Gallery.
Beginning in her teens, Jennie began to work professionally as an actor, performing with several leading and indie theatre companies including the National Arts Centre, Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, The Citadel Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Ghost River Theatre, The Only Animal, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Teatro La Quindicina, Shadow Theatre, Generic Theatre and Sage Theatre.
Jennie was nominated for Edmonton’s Elizabeth Sterling Hayne’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre for Young Audiences for her work in Night Light as well as Calgary’s Betty Mitchell Award nomination for her performance in Lion in the Streets. She received a Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Performance for developing and performing solo the role of a 10 year old boy, in the debut production of Confessions of A Paperboy.
Jennie studied Art & Design at the University of Alberta, majoring in painting. She left school a couple years in and found way to merge her love for visual arts with her career in theatre, by joining a wild band of street artists as an Artistic Core member of the Green Fools. She trained in clown, physical theatre, puppetry, stilt walking and mask and learned how to sculpt, sew, build and create and then budget, write grants, manage and produce. In 2004, Jennie became Co-Artistic Director and since that time, she has been at the helm of every major theatre production Green Fools Theatre has created, leading the company into professional theatre and international touring of theatre shows. Her works and collaborations have been presented in Canada, the US, Brazil and Japan.
Jennie has been nominated for Betty Mitchell Award’s Outstanding New Play for her plays Elephant Song and The Floating Mouse. She has written and directed several works and her productions of The Floating Mouse and Isis & Osiris: A Shadow Opera have been nominated for Betty Mitchell Award’s Outstanding Production of a Musical. The Floating Mouse has recently been presented by the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Saskatoon Children’s Festival. Jennie is the co-recipient of an Elizabeth Sterling Hayne’s Award Outstanding Achievement in Theatre for Young Audiences for the collaboratively created Project: Whooping Crane, which has toured internationally.
Jennie is a member of the Playwright’s Guild of Canada and Canadian Actors Equity Association.
Jennie is married to acclaimed film and stage actor, Shaun Smyth. They have two little girls, Margaret and Iona.
SHELLEY: General Manager
Shelley has been working her magic in the office with the Green Fools for the last 5 years. She saw us though our times at the old church in Erlton, the great flood of 2013, and our relocation into our new venue the West Village Theatre. On top of managing the fools Shelley also manages the West Village Theatre. She is an accomplished artist and integral part of our creation team. Shelley has made costumes, puppets and masks for many of our productions and heads up many of our custom corporate creations. Shelley has a BFA in Metal Smithing from the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Green Fools Theatre year round staff includes Co-Artistic Directors Dean Bareham and Jennie Esdale, General Manager Shelley Carroll, Book Keeper Rose Brow. We are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors: Amy Trofimuk, President, Oliver Klonaris, Treasurer, Maggie Brander, Secretary, J. Andre Ouellette, Renee Daurie, Members.
Green Fools Theatre engages dozens of artists each year as teachers, performers, musicians, writers and directors on a per project basis. Some of the outstanding artists the work with Green Fools on an ongoing basis are Jessica Barrera, Judith Mendelsohn, Tyler Ayres, Jamie Tognazzini, David Rhymer, Jamie Konchak, Vi An Diep, Rebecca Leonard, Flying Bob Palmer, Keith Murray, Sarah Malick, Susan Faulkner, Jana Sharon, Laryssa Yanchak, Mike Battie, Sand Northrp, Jeff Olynek, Malcolm Russell, Ron Pearson, and Lee Zimmerman.
IN THE PRESS
Green Fools Theatre brings creative, innovative art to the stage combining a full spectrum of talent. They give artists of all types a forum for creativity, and a place for Canadian art, music, poetry, puppetry, and acting to be combined and presented. It is a wonderful, magical theatre company that stretches the imagination for artists and audiences alike.
- University of Calgary
The Green Fools Theatre Troupe is an asset to the cultural landscape of Alberta and Canada. The training they provide for artists and the plays and social events they produce are unique and absolutely unparalleled. This creative juggernaut is ahead of their time and deserves all of the support they have earned from their community and funding partners.
- Artistic Director, Urban Curvz Theatre
Rapture Study in Seven Songs was my most magical experience at the hands of the Green Fools. Jennie Esdale's performance was mesmerizing and to contemplate the discovery of the artists from sensation to composition to physical interpretation was a meditation on rapture I will never forget. Their work transports, and isn't that always the point.
The Green Fools exemplify a free spirited, fun, but hard working and focused mix.!
- Former Program Director, Edmonton Fringe
The Green Fools are culturally integral to the theatre landscape in Alberta and Canada. Fringe Theatre Adventures has had a long and significant relationship with the Green Fools from the Edmonton Fringe festival to our presented season for young audiences. As a part of our Fringe Family series in 2009/2010 we presented their play Project: Whooping Crane. It was seen by hundreds of children who were mesmerized by their mask and puppet work. It went on to win a Sterling Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Theatre for Young Audiences in 2010. We could not have been more happy for the Green Fools and we look forward to future collaborations.
- President, Accolade Entertainment
"It is with great pleasure that I write to you with regards to the Green Fools. I am always willing to work with the Green Fools knowing that they will deliver a quality, high energy performance and do not hesitate to recommend them to anyone hoping to make their event a great success!"
- Producer of LitFest: Edmonton's Nonfiction Festival
For more than two decades, the Green Fools have been a personal touchstone for the blend of distinctive individual artistic voice, community engagement and commercial success. They continue to do fresh, interesting work, and to excite me with each new show. It's an honour to have them in Alberta.
- Calgary Downtown Association
I will never forget my first Green Fools experience. There were puppets, fire and acrobatic dancers propelling off the side of a building outside. I watched them perform a musical number in absolute awe. This was nothing like I had ever seen before. Pure multi disciplinary creativity. What is also truly memorable was the sense of community of the Green Fools audience. I had only been in the theatre community in Calgary for a short period of time and didn't ever truly feel like a member of the community until I attended a Green Fools performance. Everyone from the volunteers to the performers were truly welcoming and accessible. I felt pure joy watching the performance and have been back every halloween for the last 7 years with a new group of new comers each year.
- One Yellow Rabbit, Artistic Director
I have been a fan and supporter of Green Fools since their early work, The Agony & The Egg, at the 6th High Performance Rodeo in 1991. In the decades since, their unique, peculiar and vivid dedication to all things mask, puppetry and performance has continued to provide inspiration to the community - and beyond. They are a vital force within Calgary's theatre scene.
- Vice Principle/Musician
The Green Fools Theatre Company has provided me with many opportunities to develop my music, theatre and directing skills which I have been able to transfer to my role as a Drama teacher, Multi Media teacher and now as an Assistant Principal. Providing free stilt walking classes, character classes and opening up the arts to the community to audition and perform with the company has given me the Professional Development I needed and the confidence to teach many of these skills to my students at the Calgary Board of Education. Working with the Green Fools provides a space for my creative side to grow. Over the past ten years, working with the Fools, I have gained skills that have enabled me to write, perform and direct my own musicals and find creative support from all members of the company. As an Assistant Principal I am an advocate for Fine Arts Programming and instruction in schools. I work in a high needs area in Calgary where many students cannot afford school fees that would contribute to field trips. The Green Fools have made it possible for many of my classes to watch performances such as “The Whooping Crane” and “Dancing On Water”. These two educational shows were well received by students and staff. Watching live theatre performances of the lifecycle of a whooping crane deeply impacted my students. Two years later, they still recall the story and can sequence the life of a crane. The students were able to engage with actors and puppets directly after the show and were inspired to create puppets in our classroom. The Green Fools have are a highly valued piece of the community, offering individuals the chance to express themselves and to inspire life-long learning.