Ghost River Theatre

We are a performance creation company. We make new work, always.

PACT Membership: Affiliate Membership

PACT Region: 2 – Alberta and the Territories

Company Values

On our first day as artistic directors of Ghost River Theatre David van Belle and I headed out to the source for inspiration--the actual Ghost River itself.  We spent the afternoon walking along its stony shores and talking about what we wanted Ghost River Theatre’s principles to be.  Not just aesthetically, but in human terms.  ‘Values’ would be the word for it.

This is what we arrived at.  This value statement was adopted as an official Ghost River Theatre document in April, 2009. Now 6 years later, David has stepped down as my Co-Artistic Director to become GRT’s Creator-in-Residence and I am now the sole Artistic Director.  However, the principles that David and I came up with still hold true as core artistic values that continue to guide the work of Ghost River Theatre.  I have done a small up-date to them, have a look, and please let me know what you think.

- Eric Rose – Artistic Director

• we are a performance creation company.  We make new work, always.

• performance is a human endeavour.  As such we have to conduct ourselves in a way that honours human beings, not treating our audience as a ‘target market’ only but rather a group to be met through performance, not treating those working with us as employees only but rather as co-creators who are valuable to the process.

• honesty.  In creation we ask the question ‘what do we really think’ about the topic at hand.  We challenge each other to stay sharp, to tell the truth as we find it rather than the easy answer.  We stay in dialogue with other artists inside and outside the company and check in with each other.  We really want to hear about the work, particularly from those whose aesthetics we admire and trust.

• constant learning.  Our work is not complete if we define one particular style of performance and then stick with it.  Our knowledge is additive—retaining the good discoveries of the past and then adding new experiences and methodologies to them.  We are experimenters.  The theatre is a laboratory, always.

• truly ensemble-created work.  Artists working with the company are not forced into rigidly-enforced roles of actor, designer, director, although these are certainly the key strengths of those in those roles.  Boundaries between roles are looser; participation is shaped more by respect of other artists than by a strict definition of what ‘your job’ is.  We work in a flattened hierarchy.

• all elements of the work are storytelling.  Storytelling is done through the spoken text, but also through light, props, movement, image, projection, environment.

• the audience must be engaged in order for the production to be successful.  There are many ways to engage an audience—laughter, shock, surprise, disgust, empathy, intellectual engagement, experiential engagement.

• the reveal is crucial to the engagement, particularly in storytelling.  What happens next, or what will this thing do?  Surprise is a good tool.

• there is room for the audience in performance—the audience’s interaction must be broadened beyond a ‘keyhole’ model where the audience merely looks in at the action taking place.  Environment is crucial here.  We acknowledge our audience.

• ‘highly theatrical’ performance.  We use the broad range of the tools of our craft in order to engage our audience.  We must do the things that television and film are incapable of doing in order to keep the art of the theatre vibrant.

• the riff, or creative jamming.  Space must be made within the rehearsal process for artists to bounce ideas around, try things, make discoveries.  The rehearsal process can’t be 100% planned.

• we work with a relaxed rigor.  These two concepts, relaxation and rigor, dance with each other, remain in balance with each other.  Relaxation in rehearsal allows new ideas to flow, relaxation in performance allows the audience to engage and participate.  Rigor shapes these ideas.  Rigor allows the audience to understand clearly.

• best idea moves forward, no matter who brings it—beyond ego.

• the process is crucial to the making of exciting theatre.  It should be engineered to bring maximum creativity; it should shape a place where good ideas come forth and are heard.

• going to theatre should be a spiritual experience.  In a church, people gather together for a shared experience.  We do the same in the theatre.  Ideally, they should go away changed somehow.  This changing goes beyond empirical or intellectual knowledge.  It has to do with experiential learning.

Company Information:

  • Year Founded: 1992
  • Annual Budget: $200000.00
  • Season Timeframe: Year-round
  • Theatre Tours: Yes
  • Tour Locations:
    • Regionally
    • Nationally
  • Senior Staff:

  • Eric RoseArtistic Director
  • Kate StadelGeneral Manager

Venue Information:

  • Number of Mainspace seats: 83
  • Number of Rehersal seats: 83

Rental Information:

  • Venue rental Information:

    Venue rentals: yes
  • Venue rental contact name: West Village Theatre
  • Venue rental contact email:
  • Other rental Information:

    Other rentals:
    • Equipment
  • Other rental contact name: