We’re headed to the Rodeo. Vertical City’s Trace has been programmed in Calgary’s coveted High Performance Rodeo, with 4 performances from Jan. 12 – 14, 2017. The magic of Martin Julien and Michelle Polak will again be on hand, while Richard Windeyer (of bluemouth, inc. renown) will adapt and perform live the soundscape originally created by Lyon Smith. We’ll be re-realizing the site-specific project as we shift from the elementary school context the show was first realized in during the SummerWorks Festival in Toronto in 2014 to the 1st Canadian Legion in downtown Calgary. Clearly, the new space has its own share of fascinating ghosts to engage in our “haunting for two performers and an audience.” We’re super happy to be in such stellar company in the Rodeo and pumped at the prospect of rediscovering this gem of a performance. Trace picked up the Audience Choice Award and was cited for Outstanding Production, Ensemble, and Direction at SummerWorks. Can’t wait to offer it to Calgary.

*OCTOBER 2016*

Pil has joined “Calgary’s Culture House,” Theatre Junction Grand, as guest dramaturg to facilitate the next several TJLab experiments. The labs are designed to support emerging artists and established artists who are tackling challenging new areas of practice. There are some great projects lined up and word is the participating artists are excited to have Pil in their corner. Information about all the upcoming TJLabs can be found on the TJG website.

*SEPT 2016*

Bruce joined a simply terrific team of collaborators on a true performance adventure. Along with Pete Balkwill (Old Trout Puppet Workshop), Kimberly Cooper (Decidedly Jazz Danceworks), David Rhymer (long-time collaborator with One Yellow Rabbit), performer/creator/puppeteer/teacher Nan Balkwill, and visual artist Noel Bégin, Bruce headed out into the countryside to begin exploratory work on the intersection(s) between puppetry and dance. Beyond reach of the internet and without access to electrical power, the team hunkered down at a vacant YMCA campground west of Sundre, AB, to talk, dream, train, challenge preconceptions, and create. We all headed home convinced that we are on to something special….

*AUGUST 2016*

Our work on the Close Relations project in Toronto has been hugely productive. Two weeks of intensive exploration of the potential of/in/for intimacy in performance with Eve Egoyan, Michael Caldwell, and Sherri Hay yielded so much that was valuable in terms of interdisciplinary collaboration. And having Natalia and Nikki in the room along with us added a vital level of reflection to the entire process. Many thanks to the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies for the use of the Luella Massey Studio Theatre. The insights coming out of this practice-based research session will feed multiple streams of our activities over the coming months.

*JULY 2016*

We’re excited to be going back into the studio next month with some of our favourite collaborators (and favourite people, in general). Picking up where we left off last August in Calgary, we’re heading into Close Relations territory with the remarkable pianist/composer Eve Egoyan and the visionary multimedia artist Sherri Hay. In addition, we’re welcoming the electric dancer/choreographer Michael Caldwell into the mix. An exploration of intimacy across disciplines, Close Relations is both a practice-based research project and a new work development process. This year we’re gathering in Toronto and are particularly lucky to have both Natalia Esling and Nikki Cesare-Schotzko on board as keen eyes, ears, and minds on our process. Thanks to the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies for the generous loan of the Luella Massey Studio Theatre. Watch this space for updates as our work progresses….

*MAY 2016*

It’s a real treat to bring one of our most traveled performances to Calgary this month. All Good Things has been presented in Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax, been offered to audiences ranging from one to one hundred, and staged in a community hall, a micro-performance space, and a hotel swimming pool. This month we bring it to the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary where it is sponsored by the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. We will offer it three times: once as a 1-2-1, once as a 1-2-1 with an audience of 10 spectators, and once as a 1-2-1 with a full theatre audience. The final performance will also be a fundraiser benefit for the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires emergency. Our friend Martin Julien, who first performed the role in Toronto in 2013 and recreated it in Vancouver in 2014, will be on hand, and the performances will feature a complex new soundscape by Eric Bumstead and a subtle new lighting design by April Vickzo. For full details, check out the Facebook page.

*APRIL 2016*

We’re excited to begin a new project with one long-time, much cherished collaborator, one who is fairly new to us (and who we’re intoxicated with), and one who we are looking forward to playing with for the very first time. Our friend from Toronto, sound artist Richard Windeyer, has worked with us on multiple projects, including Swimmer (68) (2009 – 2011) and both versions of YouTopia (2013 & 2014). Bruce and Richard have also collaborated on artistic research writing — “Immersive Negotiations: Binaural Perspectives on Site-Specific Sound,” in Performing Site-Specific Theatre (Palgrave, 2012)” — and the new project is in many ways an extension of the conceptual questions raised in that article. It also extends Bruce’s sensory-based writing experiments with Taste (2015) and the exploration of stillness and silence informing many of Vertical City’s current initiatives.

This early stage of the work will focus on sonic environments associated with hospitals and large-scale medical equipment (e.g., fMRI machines) that both overwhelm and constrain patients. We’re conducting a week of studio exploration with Calgary-based performance artist Emily Promise Allison, who we worked with (and loved) in Taste and the pioneering, UK-based visual/video artist Alex May. With Richard in Toronto, Alex in Bristol (UK), Pil in Canterbury (UK), and Allison and Bruce in Calgary, we’ll be working across Skype lines and Dropboxes, in what promises to be a fascinating logistical puzzle.


We’re gearing up for a city-wide performance as part of the 2016 JUNO Awards to be held in Calgary. “Playing Our City” is a multi-site, participatory, inter-active, semi-composed/semi-spontaneous performance to held in a variety of locations throughout the city on March 12th, 2016. Site selection is based on a range of criteria, representing a broad cross-section of the city’s cultures, geographic and geomorphic features, economic levels and other demographic considerations, architectural features, and environmental textures. Calgary citizens will collaborate with trained musicians in each location to create music by percussively ‘playing’ the material features of their locations. The focus will be on the traditionally non-musical aspects of the landscape and architecture of the sites as both instruments and playing surfaces: earth, vegetation, stone, concrete, steel and other metals, glass, human and animal bodies, wind, etc. All locations will be connected by high-speed internet, so that the performers and audience members in one location can see and hear the participants in the other locations in a simultaneous performance. The overall event will remain available online to national and international audiences in an archived recording.

In advance of the March 12th event, we’re inviting youth across Calgary to submit video clips of themselves playing their schoolyards, playgrounds, and communities to be woven into a video “city symphony” that will be shown at the Playing Our City event and again at a large “Listen to Your City” concert to be held on March 14th. A “How To” video is available here.

Playing Our City is conceived and directed by Bruce, with dramaturgy by Pil. The musical composition will by Allan Bell (2015 Juno Award winner) and Laurie Radford. Performance transmission and event realization will be by Eric Bumstead, with technical direction by Graham Frampton. Watch the Playing Our City Facebook page for details.

*OCTOBER 2015*

The fourth iteration of the “Articulating Artistic Research” seminar series will take place at the 2016 annual conference of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research — right here in Calgary in May 2016. Co-organized by Bruce and Natalia Esling (University of Toronto), the seminar’s focus this year shifts to the tricky question of artistic research results. We welcome pitches for participation from individuals and groups conducting research-creation internationally. Here’s where you’ll find the full-length call for proposals.


This month we made our way to Beakerhead. In collaboration with our friends at Ghost River Theatre (which basically cleaned up at this year’s Betty Mitchell Awards) we leapt into Calgary’s celebrated “Smash-up of Art, Science, and Engineering” with an innovative and highly intimate offering entitled Taste. Hosted by the equally celebrated River Café and featuring a custom-tailored taster menu, Taste wove the sensory with the imaginary to create a one-of-a-kind performance experience. Taste was co-created by Bruce and Ghost River AD Eric Rose. Eric directed, Bruce created the performance text, and Pil provided dramaturgy. We’re excited to note that Taste SOLD OUT for its entire run. This year’s offering was a work-in-progress production, so there’s a good chance there will be future opportunities for others to get a taste of it.

*AUGUST 2015*

Between August 17 and 28 we led a research-creation laboratory at the University of Calgary with some heavy-hitting collaborators. Entitled “Close Relations,” the project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and focuses on the potential for/of/in intimacy in interdisciplinary performance. Joining Bruce and Pil were dancer/devisor Denise Clarke (One Yellow Rabbit), pianist/composer Eve Egoyan, and visual/installation artist Sherri Hay. Rounding out the team were two terrific Research Assistants, Natalia Esling and Alexandria Inkster. A combination of cross-disciplinary training, interdisciplinary collaboration, and structured dramaturgical reflection, the lab was the preliminary phase of a projected large-scale research-creation design.

*JULY 2015*

After a remarkable visit to Hyderabad, India for the annual conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, Bruce headed to Halifax to begin the first stage of physical development on tiny with Zuppa Theatre. Along with core Zuppa members Alex McLean (director) and Ben Stone (performer), as well as Zuppa Artistic Associate Stewart Legere (performer), additional contributions were provided by 3 terrific apprentices: Miranda Jones, Lily Ross-Millard, and Erin W. Johnston. More on tiny here.

*JUNE 2015*

We’ve begun working on our latest performance with our most recent collaborators, Calgary’s celebrated Ghost River Theatre. The piece, entitled Taste, is the second instalment in Ghost River’s ambitious Six Senses Series and will be given a workshop presentation as part of this year’s Beakerhead Festival. The intimate and interactive performance will take place at Calgary’s renowned River Cafe. We’re excited about the project and about our first collaboration with Ghost River and its Artistic Director Eric Rose. For full details on the performance, including location, times, and ticket information/reservation, check out our Taste page.

*ARPIL 2015*

Bruce participated in the Banff Centre’s Playwrights Colony, where he worked on a the new collaboration with Zuppa Theatre. Formerly known as Supers, the performance title morphed into tiny. The piece focuses on how difficult it is to live tiny when the world wants you to live big, big, big. See Bruce’s thoughts on the piece and the process on the Colony blog:

* MARCH 2015*

Bruce heads to the Banff Playwrights Retreat to work on the text for Supers (working title), our next performance to be devised with Zuppa Theatre of Halifax in July 2015. Supers is an interdisciplinary performance about the ordinary-ness of super heroes. There may or may not be flying.

* FEBRUARY 2015*

Michael Green 1957-2015. Irreplaceable.


Vertical City collaborated with Kaeja d’Dance on a new solo performance by Kaeja co-AD Allen Kaeja. The Rogue Show, which ran November 8th to 16th, 2014, was co-choreographed and directed by Vertical City AD Bruce Barton. Check out the Facebook event page.

*OCTOBER 2014*

All Good Things was in Halifax, where it was performed (in a swimming pool!) by Zuppa Theatre‘s remarkable Ben Stone as part of the Nocturne Festival on October 18th. Here’s what The Coast  and the Chronicle Herald had to say about us.

Vertical City was commissioned to create a 12-hour version of YouTopia – entitled 2YouTopia – for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche all-night Art extravaganza on October 4th, 2014.

*AUGUST 2014*

Vertical City’s Trace was awarded the NOW Magazine “Audience Choice” Award at Toronto’s 2014 SummerWorks Festival , August 12 – 17. Also cited for Outstanding Production, Direction, and Ensemble by Now Magazine. Read Glen Sumi’s review here and Wayne Leung’s review here. Follow Trace @ SummerWorks on Facebook.

*JUNE 2014*

Vertical City’s YouTopia was nominated for a 2014 Dora Award for Scenic Design. Congratulations Sherri Hay!

Vertical City’s All Good Things was invited to Boca del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series in Vancouver, BC., June 26 – 29, 2014. Check out our west coast adventure on FacebookThe Georgia Straight and Vancouver Presents welcome All Good Things to Vancouver.