Our Story

Once Upon a Time…

Firefly Theatre and Circus was formed with the intent and purpose of combining circus arts and theatre by co-founders John Ullyatt, an actor, and Annie Dugan, a circus artist.  Since 2000 we have been inspired and energized by the fusion of these two disciplines, and we continue to believe that they offer us an unparalleled avenue for storytelling.  In the early days, there wasn’t a circus community in Edmonton, so in 2004, we established Alberta’s first aerial arts program.  The Firefly Circus Academy ran for 18 years, closing in 2022 to make space for Firefly’s newest endeavour, the Alberta Circus Arts Festival.

From the start, Firefly has created a diverse body of work. Our productions have taken place on the ground and in the air, in intersections, wading pools, on the sides of buildings, inside structures made of shrink wrap and scaffolding, as well as traditional performance venues.  We have performed at festivals and events across Canada as well the US, the UK, and Asia.  Firefly Theatre’s work is unique in Alberta and has been described as “spectacular and breathtaking,” The Sun,” and “fresh, funny, neck-craning spectacles,” The Journal.  The company has been honoured with a City of Edmonton Excellence Award in Arts and Culture, a Mayor’s Award for Innovative Artistic Direction, and the inaugural Edmonton Event Awards – Best Entertainer.  Firefly’s Artistic Director is a recipient of Global TV’s Women of Vision award.

Firefly’s particular fusion of contemporary circus arts and theatre makes an innovative contribution to the Albertan cultural scene and we continue to be one of the only companies in Western Canada to work in this genre.  One of the most exciting things about a long life in the arts is the continuation of new discoveries; just when we think we are getting somewhere, we create a new show that pushes boundaries further and more furiously than ever before!  Where will the merging of circus and theatre take us?  Come along with us and find out!

Most Recently

2023                            Montage – Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, Camrose, AB
2023                            The Great, Great Spiegel Spectacular – K-Days, Edmonton, AB
2022-23                       Alberta Circus Arts Festival, Edmonton

2021-2                         VIVAREE – Arden Theatre, St. Albert, Maclab Centre Leduc, Edmonton
2021-2                         Bread and Circus (virtual)

“In our lively local scene, there is nothing quite like Firefly Theatre.” The Sun.

Our Team

Core Members

Annie Dugan

Annie Dugan

Artistic Director

Annie is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Firefly Theatre & Circus, a company dedicated to merging the spectacle of circus arts with an accessible theatrical narrative.  Since 2000, Ms. Dugan has been involved with all of Firefly Theatre’s productions in various capacities, including directing, producing, creating and performing.  Firefly’s shows have been produced in theatres, on walls and rooftops, intersections, fountains and now Spiegeltents!  Annie is the founder and Executive Producer of the Alberta Circus Arts Festival.  She has received the Mayor’s Award for Innovative Artistic Direction, a Canada 150 Award, and is a Global TV’s Woman of Vision.

Stephanie Gruson

Stephanie Gruson

Director of Special Events

Stephanie is the Director of Special Events and a core company member with Firefly. A versatile aerialist, Stephanie has performed on the aerial silks, trapeze, cube, and aerial kite. She has appeared at festivals, events, theatrical productions and more, the highlight being to perform on silks along with Canadian artist Sarah McLachlan at the Canada 150 celebration at Roger’s Place. Stephanie has been a part of Firefly Theatre’s productions of Panache (2016), Kolabo (2018), Circus Scenes from a Pandemic (2021) , Vivaree (2021), the Alberta Circus Arts Festival (2023) and The Spiegel Spectacular (2023). She is a founding co-producer of the Alberta Circus Arts Festival.  Stephanie is Franco-Albertan, and she proudly serves as the company’s French representative, passionately endorsing Edmonton’s cultural growth.

Eliza Lance

Eliza Lance

Bon Vivant

From Montreal, Quebec, @elizalance Eliza is a graduate from the National Circus School. Specializing in Aerial hoop and contortion, she has worked for different Canadian and international companies such as Cirque Eloize and Circus Monti but always finds herself in Edmonton with Firefly theatre and Circus.  Eliza has performed with Firefly since 2018, appearing in Inferno, Superstition, VIVAREE, the Great Great Spiegel Spectacular, and Montage.   Since working with Cirque Hor’piste in Quebec, Eliza has found that she would love to coach a social circus program in Edmonton one day.

John Ullyatt

John Ullyatt

Co Founder

John is co-founder of Firefly Theatre & Circus.  He is a well-known actor in the Edmonton theatre scene and has worked extensively across the country for the past 35 years.  He can frequently be seen at the Citadel Theatre.  He was most recently the host with the most in The Great Great Spiegel Spectacular. Some of his favourite creations for Firefly have been The Human Fountain, The 21st Century Gargoyles, Duck Duck Bang and Craniatrium.

Vince Burwash

Vince Burwash

Resident Lighting Designer

Vince is the owner and lead designer at Keylite Design Inc., an Alberta based lighting design firm specializing in live music, theatrical performance, and corporate galas. Vince is currently the designer and lighting director for Firefly Theatre and has spent years touring with Recording artist’s Gord Bamford, James Barker Band, The Tenors, Joe Nichols and Paul Brandt. Recent credits include The Art of Banksy Exhibit, the 2022 Papal visit, Inventures 2023, ESO Symphony in the City and FIS Snowboarding Big Air. Vince lives in St Albert, Alberta with his wife Terri and enjoys spending time with his 4 adult children and extended family.

Joel Marsan

Joel Marsan

Facility Rigger

Joel has been with Firefly for over 10 years and has been in aerial arts for over 20.  He continues to enjoy working primarily on silks, trapeze and aerial net, and still occasionally performs for non-profit and charity events.

Here at Firefly, he facilitates training for many of our professional and company artists, and he also keeps a regular eye on our rigging.

He hopes that his continuing pursuit of aerial arts will encourage others to step up and give it a try.

Company Artists

Amelia Flaherty-Martinon

Amelia Flaherty-Martinon

Artist

Avery Denington

Avery Denington

Artist

Aytahn Ross

Aytahn Ross

Artist

Billy Kidd

Billy Kidd

Artist

Giana Vacirca

Giana Vacirca

Artist

Gillian Moon

Gillian Moon

Artist

Jeff Olynek

Jeff Olynek

Artist

Jonathan Hawley-Purvis

Jonathan Hawley-Purvis

Artist

Jordan Patten

Jordan Patten

Artist

Le Fuzz

Le Fuzz

Artist

Lyne Gosselin/Norm Boulé

Lyne Gosselin/Norm Boulé

Artist

Marla Albiston

Marla Albiston

Artist

Maxwell Hanic

Maxwell Hanic

Artist

Michael King

Michael King

Acrobatic Rigger

Patton Wei

Patton Wei

Stage Manager

Samara Von Rad

Samara Von Rad

Artist

Sarah Visser

Sarah Visser

Artist

Berri and Figgy

Berri and Figgy

Artists

Our Mission

The Mission

VISION: Stimulate, incubate and nurture a dynamic circus/theatre community in Edmonton that is inclusive, accessible, and inspiring for all participants.

MISSION: To create, produce, and present original performances that combine the visceral and awe-inspiring response of the circus with the emotional response of the theatre.

VALUES:

  • Firefly is dedicated to the advancement of Integrated Arts and the genres of circus and theatre.
  • Provide enrichment for all members of our community, through the programing of accessible workshops, performances, and events.
  • Foster a work-place environment of creativity, safety, encouragement, and respect.
  • Support our artists and team by offering proper compensation, hours and benefits.
  • Contribute to national sector development through collaboration, facilitation and participation in knowledge and idea exchanges.
  • Position Edmonton as a Western Canadian hub for Circus Arts through active creative work, opportunities for professional development, multi-faceted outreach programs, relations with diverse communities, and advocacy.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity

We believe in advancing an inclusive, equitable and accessible environment at Firefly.
We actively commit to the following:

  • Create and foster an environment of creativity, safety, encouragement and respect, where artists have the ability to reach their individual goals
  • Ensure that all who enter the space are treated with respect and consideration, regardless of their gender, race, religion, physical ability, mental diagnosis, national or ethnic origin social status, age, size sexual orientation or gender identification
  • Embrace individual uniqueness and recognize and value contributions of all members
  • Listen and engage with our community to continuously improve our practices

 Creating an inclusive and respectful culture requires constant and ongoing reflection about Firefly as an organization.  We recognize that we need to take concrete action to continue toward a more equitable future.  Our actions include:

  • Providing continuous anti-racism, inclusion, gender and accessibility training to staff
  • Reviewing policies on equity processes with ongoing community feedback
  • Actively seeking out artists and board members that are diverse in terms of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and socio-economic background.
  • Provide opportunities for diverse artists to grow – membership, residencies, workshops and collaborations

At Firefly, we believe that diversity and inclusion create inspiration and innovation in artistic expression. Differences are valued, respected and embraced; this is part of who we are, the way we work together and how we treat our supporters and patrons.
At Firefly, we know we will all be better when we are all here.

Firefly Theatre and Circus recognizes that the land where we create and share our stories is located on Treaty 6 territory as well as Region 4 of Métis Nation of Alberta, the traditional territories of the nêhiyawak, Saulteaux, Niisitapi, Nakota Sioux, Dene, Métis, and other peoples.  We recognize that we are part of a collective journey of growth, embracing creation, and working alongside everyone who calls this land home.

8540 - Roper Road
Edmonton, AB
T6E 6V4
(780)758-9999

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Canada Council for the Arts
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Edmonton Arts Council

Designed by John Ullyatt

© 2024