Workshop History

The festival has been around since the 1960’s, and we’ve done a lot of workshops since then!  Here’s a record of the Workshops going  back to 2019 and 2013.

Workshop line-up 2019

Instant Story:  How to write something from nothing.

Instructor Jason Long, Enter the writer’s room for 90 minutes of unbridled, non-judgemental creativity. Learn about how to honour and grow your original ideas while shutting out ‘Those Voices’, and the quick and dirty basics of writing scripted works for the screen. We’ll make some stuff.

Unarmed Stage Combat!

Instructor Laryssa Yanchak, Come learn what it takes to perform fights on stage in a convincing and safe manner.  We’ll examine some of the most used techniques and create a small choreography, so you can experience the steps necessary to bring the illusion of violence to the stage.

No Holds Bard

Instructor Haysam Kadri, This hands-on workshop highlights Shakespeare’s text by focusing on the language barrier synonymous with his works. By activating the mind and body as the goal to understanding the text we make Shakespeare exciting, accessible and relevant. Through interactive language exercises and story telling activities, Haysam will lead students to analyze and discover the meaning of the language.

A Taste of Clown

Instructor Jacquline Russell, Clown offers artists of all backgrounds a unique way to access the imagination. Leaping into a world of serious ridiculousness, participants will explore exercises designed to cultivate the freedom to physicalize, breathe and respond with honesty.

Intro to Lighting Design

Instructor Tauran, An introduction to the elements and practice of creating a lighting design, including the variables that a designer can control and how to control them.

Building Your Prompt Book

Instructor Scott Spidell, In this workshop, students will learn the importance of assembling a clear and exhaustive prompt book. Yes, all the information that needs to be in there will exhaust you. Tips, tricks, and other important bits will be shared.

Voice and Body Warm-Up and Using Tools for Vocal Variety 

Instructor Dawn Sadoway, Learn how to incorporate a complete warm-up for voice and body into your work as an actor. Also discover how to creatively explore text using tools for vocal variety. Incorporating these tools into your work will help an audience understand a character’s meaning and intention more fully.

Heightened Voice Work

Instructor Dawn Sadoway, Learn how to effectively and safely use your voice to laugh, cry, scream, grunt and shout during heightened moments on stage.

Acting Skills

Instructor Leigh Rivenbark, In this workshop, students will learn various acting skills, including pursuing objectives, working to overcoming obstacles, and playing actions. In addition, students will explore advanced techniques such as substitution, sense memory, and subtext.

Time to Fail!

Instructor Anyssa McKee, The only way to learn how to improvise, is to learn how to fail, fail worse, and fail again! In this workshop, students will participate in a blend of exercises, games, and scene-work that emphasize the importance of failing forward. Students of all experience levels are welcome!

Workshop line-up 2017 

What is the Role of a Theatre Director in Bringing a Play to Life?

Instructor, Kate Newby  In this workshop, students will explore how a director incorporates creative research and script analysis into developing a concept; collaborates with designers to visualize set, lighting, sound, and costume designs; motivates actors through the rehearsal process; and coordinates all the elements into the finished production.

Acting the Fight:

Instructor, John Knight  You’ve learned your fight choreography and mastered the techniques, but something is still missing. Turns out that stage combat is still acting! There are intentions, stakes, and objectives. Utilizing a variety of exercises we’ll explore the choices actors can make to breath a sense of life into a sequence of unarmed and knife choreography.


Instructor, Brett Dahl  A movement based devising master class. Learn an accessible method and approach to devising your own movement-based work, quick and dirty. Working in small groups performers learn simple and evocative tools to combine movement and text and explore how using your body can help take your performance to the next level! Perfect for helping actors or creators devise new material and integrate movement into their process.

Shakespeare’s Voice

Instructor, Jane Macfarlane We will be looking at how you make the language of Shakespeare sound like everyday speech, unlocking the tools within the text that help guide us to strong actor choices.  We will start with a vocal warm up and use those techniques to connect to the text and make it playful and fun. By the end of the workshop, you will sound like a normal person, but a Shakespearian one!


Instructor, Graham Percy  This workshop will introduce students to an actor-centred approach to scene study, and text based theatre.  Drawing from classic and contemporary sources, students will playfully explore a variety of scenes in order to discover hidden dramatic potential and staging possibilities.  A range of topics will be touched on including given circumstances, stakes, events, positive space, good shape, gradients and complicity. No preparation is required beyond willingness to read in front of a group, and to work physically.

Improvisation—Get Out of Your Character Comfort Zone

Instructor, Karen Towsley  Do you play the same four characters over and over? Do you essentially play yourself in every improv scene?  This workshop focuses on games and exercises to help you make big, bold character choices quickly. We’ll then play with character in scenes. Be prepared to go BIG both physically and vocally!

The Audition: From monologues to reads, learn to show yourself at your best

Instructor, Nathan Pronyshyn  Gain professional insight into the process of theatre-based auditions and callbacks; from how to choose the right piece, to preparation, to the audition itself. In addition to learning policies and protocols, participants will crack-open monologues and scenes on their feet, make choices and discover how to make the most of their time.

Technical workshop- Lighting and colour- Maximum 14 students

    U of C staff

 Movement for Actors:

    Instructor: Krysten Blair  This is a playful brain-based, physical training workshop for actors and movers of all levels of experience. Learn a holistic and sequential warm-up to improve mood, reduced stress, increase alertness and focus your concentration. Dance concepts such as use of breath, space, time, force, and body will also be introduced. Please wear fitness ready clothing, tie long hair back, and be prepared to work barefoot. A water bottle is recommended.

Workshop line-up 2016

Joshua Dalledonne – Performance Creation and Text OR Let’s Make Stuff With Words

Individually and together in groups, we’re going to mash words together and see if they make any sense – and if they do (or don’t… whatever), we’re going to see if there’s a little performance in there. Maybe you’re interested in the absurd and/or experimental, or you’re looking for a way to start writing, or maybe you’re trying to get over some writers block; this 90 min session will (at the very least) give you some tools to start on your next “something.” Oh… and it’ll probably be fun too… but, you know… we’ll see how we all feel on the day.

Eric Rose: 9 SQUARE – The Ultimate Theatre Game

In this highly exciting, physically active and incredibly fun workshop, participants will be taught to play 9 square as a method of exploring various theatrical principles. As used in most of Ghost River Theatre’s professional theatre processes, this highly addictive and engaging game will quickly become a drama kid favourite. Please come prepared to move and play.

Karen Goerzen: Lighting Design — Principals and tricks

Using overheads, flashlights and cameras  we will explore the five principles of Light.  Students are asked to bring a camera ( any type including phones) .. be prepared to play .. this is NOT A LECTURE CLASS.

Byron Allen: “Combat Knife & Pain For Stage”

This year we will take a look at reactions to pain on stage in a combat setting. Taking hits, being ‘cut’, responding to stab wounds, maintaining continuity for injuries and ultimately, enacting death on stage.

Using a small sequence of knife combat, we will examine what it takes to fully represent pain on stage and develop our stories.

Because, c’mon.. There’s nothing worse than an over acted death scene.

Neil Fleming: Dialogue Writing

How do I write dialogue that’s not brutal and awkward? In this short workshop you will learn how to engineer short scenes using the same tools an actors uses to build characters – given circumstances, objectives, obstacles, tactics and stakes. Students will learn about crafting real, emotional characters and how to use them to drive through a scene with dialogue and backstory.

Jane Macfarlane: How to do the wrong things the right way

Ever wonder how actors yell and scream, eight times a week without injuring their voices?  Well, wonder no more! We will dissect the vocal warm up so that you have a full connection to supported breath, which will take us into a full battle cry, as though we are a charging army! We will also learn how to do a blood curdling scream without using your throat!  Be prepared to move and run and use all of your voice to engage with these extremes and come out humming.

Glenda Stirling: The Director’s Toolkit

In this interactive 1.5 hour workshop we will explore how a Director approaches text and articulates their own point of view for a production, how to develop the physical environment and design, and how to work with actors to create stage composition and blocking.  Come prepared to work in small groups as both a director and an actor!

Karen Johnson Diamond: Improv. It’s Not About You

The number one thing you can do to become a better improviser is to make your partner a better improviser. Through exercises and scene work you’ll learn to Make Your Partner Look Good. This workshop will take the pressure off of you and put all the focus on your them! Whew!

Stacie Acting- “Living truthfully under the Imaginary Circumstances”

In this workshop students will learn how to fully develop a character through the exploration of Emotional Preparation and the given circumstances of a scene. Before putting a scene on it’s feet the actor will dig into the text and the character’s inner life, developing a technique that allows them to work spontaneously moment to unanticipated moment through listening, receiving and responding truthfully.

Workshop line-up 2013

Lauren Cochrane- Character Connection

Using Acting techniques and improv exercises, you will be challenged to open yourselves to new ways of creating and maintaining authentic, present and connected characters. Whether it’s through voice, physicality or relationship, you will learn tools to help create richer interactions with your scene partners and improv teams.

Kevin McKendrick :  Acting – Creating Character

From Text Creating a well-rounded character leads to strong choices in rehearsal. Learn how to be in control of the process rather than wondering what the director has in store for you. Treat every script as if it’s a CSI site and learn how to build characters effectively by using clues found in your text. The techniques we explore can be put away in your “crime kit” and dusted off each and every time you investigate a play.

Mike Griffin:  Commedia Dell’Arte

This course will explore a brief introduction to the style of the Commedia dell’ Arte and some of its characters. Students will learn the traditional postures and ways of locomotion specific to the Zanni (Servants) characters of the Commedia. With the foundation of the physical body, students will then improvise these characters within classic Commedia scenarios.

Stacie Harrison:  Directing

This course is an introductory look at the directing process. We will examine the director’s role in the rehearsal hall while discovering ways to fine tune your first impressions of a scene and bring it to its feet with strong stage pictures and compelling relationships between characters. This is an interactive workshop.

Anita Miotti:  Rhythm – Sound and Movement for physical and musical theatre.

A rhythm based workshop where you bring your body and your voice together to create lively, energetic and vigorous pieces.  Come ready to move, create, and have fun! Part improvisation, part choreography. Get your groove on!!  Please wear clothing you can move in, and clean sneakers or dance shoes.

J.P. Fournier: Tricks for painless violence

Find out how they do it in Hollywood and how we do it even better in the Theatre. Learn the tricks to painless violence.  Punching, kicking, choking, grappling and some slicing and dicing with knives is all part of acted aggression. How to stab someone, theatrically, so they live to do it again and again and again, is our goal.

Jane MacFarlane: Why do voice work as an actor?

Why do I have to train my voice as an actor, since I speak every day?  This workshop will answer that question through practical application.  Actors have a lot to say, have to reach a lot of people and need to do it 8 times a week.  Vocal fatigue and injury are avoidable, if you use the right technique.  We will break down some very basic exercises that everyone uses but I will explain why we do what we do and how it helps us get on stage.  We will also look at how to do the wrong things [yelling, screaming…etc.] right. Come and play with your voice…the right way!

Eric Rose: Ensemble Dynamics
A lively exploration into ensemble movement, spatial awareness and group thinking!!!  Participants can expect a wildly fun experience full of rigorous games and movement exercises that heighten your awareness of how to move and think as an ensemble.