In Fall of 2016, Ghost River Theatre premiered TOUCH to a sold out run of brave, bold, and curious audience members.

Blending the tactile experience of the surface of the skin, with one-of-a-kind guided storytelling TOUCH delivered a rare sensory adventure. Often in theatre we rely on the benefit of sight to inform our experience: the use of a set to indicate location, lighting to dazzle and focus a scene, faces of actors to provoke our emotions –TOUCH removes all of these elements to stimulate your imagination by focusing on what you can actually FEEL.

Through our collaboration with the incredible team at the Aveda Institute, we gained access to an array of aesthetics services, products, and salon techniques that assisted in creating the unique sensory experience.  Each audience member was blindfolded and individually paired with an Aveda guide who delivered the touch based experiences while a performer led you on a journey of self-discovery. 

The science of touch is remarkably complex, reaching well beyond the physical framework of neurological signals and chemical reactions. The “who”, the “where”, and the “how” can be just as important as the “what” in terms of the body’s response to sensation.  With the experience of TOUCH we bridged the gap between what the body physically recognizes (the heat of the sun) and what our personal connections conjure - (a day at the beach with a loved one.)  Through the experience of TOUCH our goal was to bring a conscious awareness to these connections as part of how we locate ourselves in the world.

The 45-minute performance experience resulted in an evocative, intimate, sensory adventure that transported audience members from the surface of their skin to the outer reaches of the self. 

Performance Dates

September 2016: Presented in Calgary, Alberta as part of the 2016 Beakerhead Festival



Concept/Co-Creator/Director: Eric Rose

Playwright/Co-Creator: Louise Casemore

Audience Experience Director/Dramaturg: Laurel Green

Design/Collaborator: Braden Griffiths

Technical Direction/Sound Design: Thomas Geddes

Performers: Emily Promise Allison, Louise Casemore, and the Senior Students of the Aveda Institute Calgary


Assistant Creative Director, Aveda Institute/Collaborator: Katelyn Ladanchuk

Director, Aveda Institute Calgary: Sara Holt-Moseson

Front Line Manager, Aveda Institute Calgary: Kat Parkin

TOUCH Guides:

Carley Saab, Lindsey Balogh, Drake Vincent, Joanna Chu, Caylin Zynger, Isaac Lozoya, Jules Hynes, Kelauren Kurtz, Samantha Pruski, Meghan Clark


Beakerhead is a Calgary based art and science festival, taking place for one week every September. Beakerhead is a time and place where engineers show their creative sides, and artists get technical, where science hits the street, and everyone gets ingenious. Leading with hands-on entertainment, Beakerhead advances the understanding of science and engineering as part of everyday life – through art and culture. It creates a world of collision and collaboration. Yes, indeed, sparks do fly when “things technical” meet “things creative”. For more information: http://beakerhead.com


TOUCH is the third instalment of GRT’s Six Senses Performance Series.  The Series is a rigorous exploration of what happens to the boundaries of narrative when you focus on stimulating the audience’s senses.  When you take away sight—our primary gateway in the world— how do our imaginations open up to narrative? How can being deprived of sight prime us for a unique performance experience? How does the audience imagination/engagement factor into the overall narrative experience of performance?

At the forefront of our work is the question of liveness:  how we unearth and reveal the world differently for audiences based on the immediacy and interactivity of the performance experience.  The Six Senses Series challenges us in our devised practice to break down our ‘total artwork’ approach to creation into its component parts, in order to better understand and trust the imaginary space our audience needs to fully engage in the live performance experience.