How it all began
Establishing Green Fools in 1991, strong visual artists Dean Bareham and Xstine Cook shared a desire to create a company that focused on the kind of work they had studied in the Dell Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. The world of stilt walking, physical and street theatre, visual arts and elaborate costuming, and mask and puppetry offered a vision of touring internationally as well as fostering a creative community at home. Our team today continues to inspire and be inspired through these foundational elements of play, performance, and creativity!
We have had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented and creative artists in our industry. We are grateful for how our journeys have intertwined and look forward to the magic of collaboration that still awaits us.
For four years starting in 1995, we had the pleasure of working full time with artists Judd Palmer, David Lane, James Davidge, Steve Pearce, and Steve Kenderes who then called themselves Disposable Metaphysics and later went on to form The Old Trout Puppet Workshop. 1998 marked the start of many years of teaching circus workshops with Neal Rempel of the International Winnipeg Children’s Festival contributing to our establishment of Social Circus programs that have now reached thousands of youth at risk, we continue that relationship today. At the same time, we enjoyed co-creating and touring with the hilarious Mooky Cornish prior to her leap into working with Cirque du Soleil.
A culmination of a decade’s worth of work with our co-founder Xstine Cook led to our production of the first 2 years of the Animated Objects Festival starting in 2002; after which she went on to form the Calgary Animated Objects Society.
In 2001, after 3 years in the artistic core, Jennie Esdale then stepped in as our Co-Artistic Director whose influence, over an unforgettable 15 years, steered us into the world of professional theatre. We focused on the creation of productions, made strong roots and impact on the professional performing arts community at home, and toured our plays internationally, earning nominations and awards. We began to work with the city’s best talent and created new musical theatre works, that sold out our Howl event. During this time, Jennie and Dean led the company to strong infrastructure, better business practices, board development, strategic planning, and professional practice.
In 2007, we had the honour of working with Cirque du Monde (the philanthropic branch of Cirque du Soleil) to bring Social Circus to Nunavik and other communities in Northern Quebec. In 2011, the addition of Shelley Bareham as an administrator and artist has evolved into her leadership as our General Manager; and her magical contribution designing and creating costumes, masks and puppets, has been foundational to our creative identity. In 2014, we joined forces with Calgary Young People’s Theatre and Ghost River Theatre to implement a new not-for-profit organization, carried on by those partners, called West Village Theatre Society aimed at providing a cultural space to the arts community.
Today our work is intertwined with such a variety of artists, teachers, students, creative organizations, and community partners that we can only imagine ourselves as part of the work that the world is calling us to continue to do.
Within our first year, creating Calgary’s April Fool’s Day Parade and Halloween Howl Party established our serious intent to foster a sense of play and adventure in our community. These ran annually until 2014 and 2016 respectively, revered by repeat-visitors as epic, inclusive events that would spread cheer and invigorate community spirit. Our intention is to build on this legacy through the installation of new, exciting, and equally-anticipated programming!
From our beginning, we’ve experimented with performance work and pushed boundaries as we toured music, street, and circus festivals around the world. “The Frying Fool Show” now renamed “Gustavo the Impossiblist” is our longest standing show, is in constant demand, has a wide following, has been performed multiple times a year, and has been presented around the globe. Many of our theatre shows have been nominated and honoured with awards and have received critical and audience acclaim. Most of our shows are an engagement of artists, actors, puppeteers, designers, builders, musicians, composers, writers and directors all working together. Theatrically each year, we provide as many opportunities for artists as possible. We seek them out diversely to mentor for apprenticeships, to attract long-term involvement, to participate in social outreach initiatives, while offering opportunities to reach thousands of audience members through performance work. We’ve toured the globe performing in hand-crafted original masks and costumes, with characters developed collaboratively with professional artists, performers, actors, or improvisers. We are known for our quality and our ability to create opportunity.
From our first social circus programs rolled out in the northern British Columbia communities of Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, through our reach that has taken us as far as The Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa to teach circus skills, through our ongoing programming to numerous Canadian cities, towns, and First Nations communities, we have seen a major increase in our role as leaders in arts and circus education. Demand has pulled our focus ever increasingly toward youth programming. We routinely partner with agencies that connect us with children, youth, families, groups, or communities in need of healthy, positive, physical programs that offer experiences to build confidence, self-worth, and a sense of belonging. It is our distinct privilege to continue this work with a mission of changing the world one kid at a time.