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Beakerhead performance hopes to Touch audiences

By Rachel Woodward, September 8 2016 —

Have you ever wondered what would happen if one of your senses was isolated and you were forced to experience a situation through only your nose, ears or mouth? Eric Rose — the artistic director of Ghost River Theatre — wondered this exact thing.

“We started thinking about our total theatre approach where we involve all of our sense and all of the ways in which we use the theatre to create the experience. What happens if we use just one of the senses?” Rose says. “People think about virtual reality as an altered reality and in fact we have the power to alter our reality by altering the way that we think about how we perceive the world.”

As a part of Ghost River’s six-part “senses” performance series, Touch will let limited audiences experience a situation through just the sense of touch. Organizers will blindfold participants and take them through the Aveda Institute to transform their reality through the experience of touch alone.

Touch is the third installment in the series. It follows Tomorrow’s Child, which featured sound and Taste, which blindfolded
participants in a restaurant setting in order to alter how they experience their meals.

“One of my favourite things to do is to have my hair washed at a salon. I started thinking about the amount of touch that hairdressers, estheticians and spa workers would have to do,” Rose says. “I started thinking about an interesting idea [of] doing a performance using some of the Aveda rituals, do it in a salon and combine it with storytelling principles.”

Touch will premiere for Beakerhead this year. Beakerhead is an annual festival in Calgary that explorates science and art through exhibitions and activities. The festival will take place from September 14–18. Touch will present twice a day during the festival, with 10 audience members participating in each show.

“What’s fantastic about Beakerhead is that they engage both science and art. I feel like what we are doing is a perfect example of this,” Rose says. “It’s not about paying your ticket, sitting in an audience and the light goes down and the performance happens on stage. It’s an experience where part of the performance is located inside of the audience. People are really hungry for something that is offering them a new way of perceiving themselves.”

Rose stresses that the Touch performance is extremely unique in Canada and even the world.

“There’s only 10 people that will experience [each] performance. It’s very intimate,” he says. “It’s astonishing to me the level of imaginative resource we have inside of ourselves and how much it delves into our memory and our imagination to be triggered by a touch.”

Touch will take place at the Aveda Institute for two performances daily throughout Beakerhead.

For more information, visit ghostrivertheatre.com

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