November 2022

 This month Vertical City collaborates with Kaeja d’Dance on the world premiere of I am the Child of… at the Harbourfront Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, November 11 -13. A ground-breaking project, incorporating Augmented Reality (AR), multiple live streams from within the performance, and a complex soundscape composed exclusively from the dancers’ voices, I am the Child of…. explores the complicated stories we tell to and about ourselves. I am the Child of… is performed in a double-bill with Touch X, choreographed by Kaeja d’Dance co-Artistic Director Karen Kaeja with dramaturgy by Pil.

Photos by Kevin Jones © 2022.


March 2021

Pil and Bruce are excited to be back in the virtual studio with three remarkable collaborators: theatre maker Jani Lauzon, dancer/choreographer Karen Kaeja, and new opera composer Juliet Palmer. Vertical City’s latest creation, Dragon, explores the evolving power of mature bodies, the functions of memory, and the possibilities for imagining beyond human perception.

Video Capture by Bruce Barton © 2020.

January 2021

This month Bruce returned to development of the Kaeja d’Dance / Vertical City collaboration I am the Child of… with co-creator Allen Kaeja. Bruce and Allen engaged entirely on Zoom with 11 remarkable dancers to explore the formal structure of the performance, technology applications, and strategies for embodied voice work.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2020.

September 2020

Pil and Bruce began work on an exciting new project with some remarkable, award-winning interdisciplinary creator-performers: choreographer/dancer Karen Kaeja, composer/musician Juliet Palmer, and writer/director/actor Jani Lauzon. For six days our online collaboration connected four locations in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. The work–exploring the unrecognized capacities of the aging body and the challenge of imagining beyond-human experience–offered rich, unanticipated insights into the potential of virtual exchange.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2020.

July 2021

Vertical City made its first movie. In collaboration with the Calgary-based filmmaker Emil Agopian and Sage Theatre , VC’s reset was filmed this month, for release in late 2021. Featuring precision performances by Braden Griffiths, Jamie Konchak, Melanie Murray-Hunt, and Julie Orton, this strange and (we think) wonderful little piece asks ‘what does it mean to be artificial,’ and might there, just maybe, be another way to respond to ‘otherness.’
Photo by Bruce Barton © 2021.


January 2020

Bruce was back in rehearsal/development in Toronto this month with his long-time collaborator, Allen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance. Building upon the experience of a Banff residency a year earlier, and working with a stellar team of Toronto and Alberta based dancers, the focus was on developing strategies for dancers to fully embrace embodied experiences of their own voices for text and soundscapes. The Kaeja d’Dance/Vertical City co-production,  I Am the Child Of… is set to premiere at Harbourfront in Toronto in 2022.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2020.

November 2019

Our latest project is a collaboration with Halifax’s resident theatre geniuses Zuppa Theatre and Calgary’s own fantastic Glenbow Museum. tiny explores the quotidien life of superheroes, and how hard it is to live tiny when the world wants you to live big, big, big.

Photo by Mel Hattie © 2019.

January 2019

Bruce began a new creation this month with long-time collaborator Allen Kaeja in a sun-soaked residency at the Banff Centre for Art and Creativity. Entitled I am the Child of…, the Kaeja d’Dance / Vertical City collaboration explores the many types of heritage that shape our paths and destinations. This development period focused on strategies for embodied voice in movement.
Photo by Bruce Barton © 2019.

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, including Inside Out Theatre‘s Make Love Not Art, and word is the participating artists are excited to have Pil in their corner.

September 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….

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2016.

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 Esling and Nikki Cesare-Schotsko 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.

Photo of Bruce Barton and Eve Egoyan by Omer Yukseker © 2016.

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….

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2016.

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.

Photo of Martin Julien by Bruce Barton © 2015.

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.

February 2016

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.

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.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2015.

September 2015

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.

Photo of Emily Promise Allison and guest by Bruce Barton © 2015.

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.

Video image by Bruce Barton © 2015.

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.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2015.

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. 

April 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.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2015.

February 2015

Michael Green 1957-2015. Irreplaceable.

November 2014

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.

Photo of Allen Kaeja by Cameron MacLennan © 2014.


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.

Photo of Kiran Friesen by Chris Halper © 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.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2014.

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.

Photo by Bruce Barton © 2015.

 Background Photo of tiny by Mel Hattie © 2019.