ABOUT US

OVER 25 YEARS OF FOOLIN' AROUND

Established in 1991 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Green Fools Theatre is a non-profit, charitable society that creates, performs, and teaches physical theatre arts focusing on masks, puppets, and stilts for diverse audiences locally and internationally. Green Fools Theatre reaches thousands of audience members each year through performances, community events, festivals, and creative training opportunities. We have an extensive history of local, national and international touring.

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.

VISION

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.

VALUES

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.

Shelley Bareham: General Manager

Experienced and extremely versatile, artist Shelley Bareham earned a BFA in Metal Smithing at the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1993. She opened her first studio in 1994 with long time friend and collaborator Jef Tsui, and spent the next three years creating one-of-a-kind jewellery and small sculptures. In the years that followed, she continued to refine and expand her skill set while working in Bronze foundries, jewellery factories, in the apothecary arts and with other independent artists. She moved to Korea in 2000 where she taught English before returning to Calgary two years later to launch a new venture, The Painter Chick, a one-woman painting company that did everything from colour consultation and small murals, to indoor/outdoor painting. Shelley has been with the Green Fools Theatre Society since 2011, working as an administrator, art instructor, costume, mask and puppet designer and is currently working as the General Manager of the company.

Green Fools Theatre year-round staff includes Artistic Directors Dean Bareham,  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.

The Beginnings

Green Fools Theatre was established in 1991 by Dean Bareham and Christine Cook upon their graduation from the Dell Arte School of Physical Theatre in California. They shared a desire to create the kind of work they had studied. Influenced by world travel, they aimed to tour internationally. The work focused on stilt walking and street theatre. The  annual April Fools Day Parade, the annual Halloween Party were created and the artists began experimental indoor performances.

New Artists, New Direction

Around 1995-1999, Dean and Christine were joined full-time by artists Judd Palmer, David Lane, James Davidge, Steve Pearce, and Steve Kenderes who called themselves Disposable Metaphysics and went on to form the Old Trout Puppet Workshop. During this time, Green Fools Theatre began to focus more heavily on puppetry and puppet experimentation as well as indoor theatre shows. We obtained our charitable status, bought our first computer and hired an administrator.

Collective Experiment

Throughout 1998-2002, Green Fools Theatre created an Artistic Core to collectively create work with a focus on circus. Disposable Metaphysics left Green Fools to form the Old Trouts and artists Mooky Cornish and Jennie Esdale joined the company. Green Fools Theatre focused mainly on training a select group of artists and creating a new large-scale touring circus show. Many other artists contributed to the circus show and training was extended to other artists as well.

Exploring Directions

Between 2002 and 2004, after a large-scale circus show, Mooky Cornish left for Cirque du Soleil and Dean, Christine and Jennie began to re-assess the direction of Green Fools Theatre. We began to create smaller indoor shows, received consultation for managing the company, and adopted Better Business Practices. We resolved to pay artists and to ensure that they are paid equitable rates; we developed a clearer artistic process; we changed from a collective company to one that hires artists on a per project basis so as to create more paying opportunities for more artists and better fiscally manage the company. At this time we also produced the Animated Objects Festival of puppetry.

Definition and Creation

In 2004, Christine Cook left Green Fools Theatre to focus on the Animated Objects Festival that she spearheads with the Calgary Animated Objects Society. Artistic leaders Dean Bareham and Jennie Esdale’s focus continues to be the creation of new work, the touring of performances, stilt walking, workshops, and two annual Calgary events – the April Fools Day Parade and the Halloween Howl, both now surpassing their 20th year. Under this leadership, Green Fools Theatre began and continues to evolve our artistic process and business methods to provide a strong foundation that enables creative opportunity, presentation and arts education. We provide artistic opportunities for dozens of artists each year as well as many physical theatre workshops for hundreds of artists, youth, and youth-at-risk as well as communities. We have sought out artists to mentor for apprenticeships and continue to provide opportunities that attract long-term involvement from diverse artists, in addition to reaching thousands of audience members through performance work.

Where We Are Now

Since 2001, the current artistic leadership has led the creation of some of Green Fools most memorable and acclaimed theatre productions that have been nominated and honoured with awards and have received critical and audience acclaim. Most of these works engage up to 20 paid artists, including actors and puppeteers, designers and builders, musicians and composers, writers and directors.  Theatre shows are hand crafted- built from scratch- and are original. Each show is developed over a minimum 2 year period. New design techniques are invented to serve the project and scripts are developed in phases with much collaboration. Last season Green Fools Theatre shows earned 3 Betty Mitchell Award Nominations and 2 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award nominations with a win for Outstanding Artistic Achievement.

Our trained stilt walkers in hand crafted original masks and costumes have toured the globe. Stilt walkers are trained by our artistic leaders in stilt walking, mask and character performance.  Many performers are professional actors or improvisers. Each costume is designed and built by Green Fools artists. Characters are developed collaboratively with artists. Characters range from the beautiful to hilarious and each brings a striking and whimsical element to festivals or events. Audience members can admire from afar or can share a laugh or a magical moment with our 10 foot tall creations.

In addition to creating and presenting theatre productions and stilt walking, our Calgary programming has remained constant in the last 20 years, presenting a Halloween Howl and an April Fools Day Parade every year. This is traditional programming that is repeated, though within each of these events a new work is created. For the Halloween Howl, we create a new collaborative multi-discipline spectacle show and at our April Fools Day Parade we present the new mask/stilt characters we create each year. The Halloween Howl has grown every year filling venue capacity, with over 1000 attendees last year. It is considered to be one of the biggest Halloween events in the city. Our Annual April Fools Day Parade has a steady history that has seen families return with new families joining every year. In many seasons (including this last season) we also present a cabaret of varying size and scale determined by timing and interest, in recent years this cabaret has presented graduates of clown workshops.

In addition, some previous shows are repeated in our programming and we believe it is a testament to the success of our work. “The Frying Fool Show” has been performed every year since Green Fools Theatre was founded and has been presented around the globe. The show is in constant demand and has generated many thousands of dollars in revenue for the company. We are extremely proud of this success and we think it’s important to acknowledge this in our season and include in our funding applications, as it is a vital part of our work, our presence, and our revenues. We believe the balance of re-presenting past productions and developing new work is deeply important to the fulfillment of our mandate of creating, presenting and teaching physical theatre arts to diverse audiences and we find that re-presenting successful/ tourable shows allows productions to continue to evolve and grow and to reach new audiences.

Before touring theatre shows, we rehearse and then re-present them in Calgary. Each time we do this, we reach a different audience. This past season, we performed “Project: Whooping Crane” in Calgary to audiences that included a performance for a multi-cultural school that has limited opportunities: some kids in attendance had recently come to Canada from refuge camps, some with limited English. We think this is profound and vital work with palpable impact; the wordless puppet show is able to reach diverse audiences and promotes a message of hope, friendship and understanding.

After Calgary performances, the production is taken to its touring engagement. This past season “Project: Whooping Crane” toured to Edmonton, where it was nominated for two 2010 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards and awarded with one for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre for Young Audiences. As well, we were invited to perform this show at the Hamedan International Festival of Theatre in Iran and in Japan- we hope to make these tours a reality in the near future. The repetition of past programming is vital to the longevity and wider presence of our company and our work. Touring has always been and continues to be a very important aspect of Green Fools Theatre each season and we proudly acknowledge the effort, time and work as well as audience reach and revenue generation of re-presenting past productions every year.

We have seen a major increase in our role as leaders in arts education, which is a natural evolution for a maturing organization with a strong history. This work is not always seen, as much of it is undertaken in remote communities. Though the commercial and profile impact of touring to teach may not be high, we are having a profound impact on countless individuals and communities providing physical theatre skills and life skills that can greatly increase the quality of life for many people. The teaching of physical theatre workshops has a long history with the company; however, in the last five years we have seen a major increase for the demand of this important work due to the strong work of our staff. Green Fools Theatre instructors have taught physical theatre for people of multiple ages, abilities, cultures and economic brackets throughout Calgary, Alberta, BC, Manitoba, and in remote First Nations communities in Northern Canada. In the last three years, we’ve gone twice to Africa to work with and teach circus skills to communities at risk and in need. In addition, we provide a free Monday night stilt walking club open to the public throughout the year.

Since its inception, Green Fools Theatre has always been a company based in Calgary that aims to reach the world. We have presented our stilt walkers, our theatre shows and taught physical theatre workshops across Canada, in Europe, New Zealand, South America and in the United States. Much of the year, the Fools are on the road.

We are passionate and devoted to the great company we lead. Green Fools Theatre is a unique, eclectic, beautiful arts organization that is maturing, refining, while continuing to be smart, strong and endlessly creative.

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.

    Celene YohemasMusician
  • 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.

    David DaleyUniversity of Calgary
  • 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.

    Kathryn WatersArtistic Director, Urban Curvz Theatre
  • The Green Fools exemplify a free spirited, fun, but hard working and focused mix.!

    Kris DemeanorMusician
  • 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.

    Thomas ScottFormer Program Director, Edmonton Fringe
  • "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!"

    Baruch LaskinPresident, Accolade Entertainment
  • 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.

    David CheorosProducer of LitFest: Edmonton's Nonfiction Festival
  • 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.

    Allison MooreCalgary Downtown Association
  • 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.

    Michael GreenOne Yellow Rabbit, Artistic Director
  • 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.

    Susan FaulknerVice Principle/Musician