just one night      made in the moment.

How about this for a dangerous idea:  theatre and music, interactively created in real time, within the framework offered by “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, by Oscar Wilde.


Karen Bassett, Theo Pitsiavas, Sebastien Labelle 


Gina Burgess, David Christensen, Norman Adams, Lukas Pearse

The second concert of suddenly LISTEN’s main concert series. Improvised opera?  Maybe!  Risky?  Definitely.  suddenlyLISTEN collaborates with members of the Irondale Ensemble Project.  Seven skilled improvisers – musicians and actors – exploring rich themes from Oscar Wildes only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Making music that instigates narrative and action that is coloured and enhanced by sound. This work is framed by one of the most scandalous novels of the Victorian era. The book poetically describes the nature of beauty, cleverly points out the ironies in polite society, and artfully paints the contradictions of human nature. But at the core of this story, lurks a baser and darker tale: That of a young man, so desperate to cling to his youthful beauty, that he sells his soul to the devil.  As Dorian remains ageless, a portrait of him decomposes with every hurtful and heinous act he commits. It’s an enduring parable on the collapse of the soul.  In its own time, it was described by critics as ‘mawkish & nauseous,’ ‘unclean,’ ‘effeminate,’ and ‘contaminating.’            

A rich place to begin.

“This is one of suddenlyLISTEN’s most adventurous collaborations. In Dorian we are taking on a huge artistic challenge; Make an improvised event where theatre artists musicians are equals, listening to each other for cues, ideas and inspiration. In Dorian we bring together two different cultures of improvisation and create a truly collaborative entity. We can’t wait to see and hear the results!” –Norman Adams

Join us!  It’s going to be great.

8pm, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Bus Stop Theatre

2203 Gottingen Street, Halifax

$20   $10

Tickets at the door 7:30pm


Check out the event on Facebook

A new play.

Irondale has been a part of Halifax for a long time – since 1991 in fact. Over these 20 years  we have created  a ton of work in a lot of different ways.                     

Creating and presenting new works of theatre for audiences, making commissioned pieces for conferences, rallys and events, working with children, youth, activists – everybody really –  to help them to make and use theatre.

 In 2004, we started a School of Ensemble Theatre to continue to foster the growth and development of ensemble theatre, and of the artists who are part of Irondale.  As our structure has changed over the years, most of this work has continued to grow and thrive.  But not the plays. The shows that we create for the public have been glaringly absent.  Now that will change. 

This August, Irondale starts work on developing a new piece of theatre. The starting point is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Led by Karen Bassett, Irondale members will delve into the text, the ideas and images and start the process of creating a play together. It’s going to be amazing!

Irondale artists have continued to collaborate, train and envision, showing both a commitment to working together and artistic excellence in every endeavour. While the ensemble has continued to work together in so many ways, Irondale’s offerings of  theatre created for the public, inspired purely by artistic interest, have been missed by its audience and its members alike.   I have been waiting for the idea, the story that would thrive with an Irondale approach and inspire me to cross over from 15 years in the acting core to the position of director.  That pathway opened to me after reading The Picture of Dorian Gray ,  a novel  rich with theatrically evocative images. A much discussed theme of the novel nicely dovetails this point of departure: some scholars believe the story essentially illustrates Wilde’s belief in art for the purity of its aesthetic. It is Dorian’s earthly conflict that erodes the picture. This project will be a return to the Irondale aesthetic:  intensely, company created, dynamically physical, and socially resonant theatre.

-Karen Bassett


It begins with the foot.

Normalize - Natasha MacLellan, Stewart Legere as fellow travellers.


Irondale’s long tradition of ensemble theatre and improvisation comes together with the work of the physical theatre. The collision of amazing ways of making theatre. A wonderful environment for learning and creation.

The Irondale School of Ensemble Theatre is offering this workshop for emerging and established professional actors, dancers, and other performance artists who want to engage in creating and performing.  Join us this summer in Halifax. July 23 to August 12, 2011. 

This 3 week intensive will focus on the actor creator. Daily training will involve performance classes, pilates, yoga, conditioning, acrobatics, dance, tai chi, ensemble singing and mask building. This workshop will be intense and very physical. Full of enthusiasm, inspiration, hope and love for the theatre

So come. 

Be engaged mind and body in this dynamic theatre. 

Tuition: $1200

There is a subsidy of 20%  for Nova Scotia residents and to students currently enrolled in acting programs at DalhousieUniversity, Acadia University or Syracuse University. 

Space is limited, so apply early. For details check out the School of Ensemble Theatre pages here on ourwebsite.     


Stephen Cross: Artistic Director, Performance, Acrobatics and Conditioning

Andrea Leigh-Smith: Pilates and Dance

YaoSun Tong:  Tai Chi

TBA : Yoga

Andrea Ritchie:  MaskBuilding 

Mission Statement

The Irondale School of Ensemble Theatre began in the summer of 2004. It exists to advocate for the art of ensemble theatre, to train actors to be able to carry on the traditions of ensemble theatre, to engage in a dynamic involvement with the international ensemble theatre movement and to work to establish educational collaborations with other practitioners of ensemble theatre.

Fields of study for performer creators include collective creation, group writing and devising, the history of ensemble theatre, and community arts practice. 

Questions?  We’d love to hear from you.

Reach us at (902)429-1370 or

The Irondale Blog begins…now

Hello friends!

Our website needs an overhaul, so in the meantime,  I’ve started us this blog. Watch for details about upcomign and ongoing projects includign our new play development based on The Picture of Dorian Gray, the details for this summer’s School of Ensemble Theatre (June 26 – July 30!) and of course our not-to-be-missed NS Theatre Awards Afteparty …Grandma Noda’s Afterparty.

Talk soon!