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Created & Performed by KARIE RICHARDS

★★★★  "a profoundly engaging and affecting experience"

CBC Manitoba

“filled with grace, kindness, comfort and love…a beguiling show done beautifully”   

The Slotkin Letter, Toronto

“intimate, mysterious and masterful”  

Mooney on Theatre, Toronto


When a person dies does it mean they no longer exist?

Thirteen mysterious experiences. Thirteen compelling characters.

An intriguing exploration about life, and what may come after. 

Original Direction by JEFF CULBERT

Production Design by GLENN DAVIDSON


The playwright wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council

in the development of this piece. 


CBC News: Top picks for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival's closing are some of our favourites from the 2019 Fringe:

For a good story, well told: "The Ghost Project is a masterclass in performance and storytelling."
Kelly Stifora, CBC Manitoba

"There are two types of people: people that believe in ghosts, and people who think that is crazy-ass crazy."

Whether you fall into the former demographic or the latter, you'll find something to appreciate in Karie Richards's (Birdy) new one-person show.

Richards presents 13 excerpts from interviews she's conducted with people claiming to have encountered ghosts. Aided by one prop or costume piece for each, she convincingly takes on different voices and mannerisms for every "character."

What's more impressive is how effectively she reproduces the emotions experienced by her interviewees as they tell their stories. Some of them have trouble believing themselves.

Full disclosure: I lean toward the latter group from that quote above. That said, I believe very strongly in the power of belief, and of a story well told. As such, I found The Ghost Project to be a profoundly engaging and affecting experience well worth having.

Kelly Stifora, CBC  
Winnipeg, Manitoba

These are not spooky ghost stories as much as they are verbatim recollections of people’s experiences with ghosts.  Writer/performer Karie Richards sets the tone, pace and atmosphere from the get-go, and in a bit of efficiency, gets the whole notion of the frightening ghostly visitation out of the way quickly.

It was a dark and stormy night in the first story. A young woman had just come home late and went up to her small bedroom and got ready for bed. She heard footsteps behind her, thinking it was her father who was coming to check if there were leaks in the roof. It wasn’t her father. It was an apparition who appeared at the foot of her bed. 

Karie Richards tells the story quietly, with the pauses, little laughs, repetitions and particular vocal quirks of the woman who told Richards the story. Richards builds the tension slowly but relentlessly so that the gasp from the audience is well earned.   

None of the apparitions who appeared to the assortment of women and one man during this short, but captivating show seemed to be malevolent. There was no hurling of furniture around the room. There was a light that went on mysteriously for the first time in two years, but that’s about it.

These are stories filled with grace, kindness, comfort and love. Glenn Davidson has designed a warm, inviting set that is in keeping with the delicacy of the stories. There is an illuminated window above the stage. A stylish, comfortable chair is bathed in warm light centre stage. Up to the left is an armoire with hazy mirrored doors. Karie Richards goes to the armoire to make small changes in her wardrobe and jewellery as she changes from character to character. One wears a hat, another a scarf, another a sweater and so on. The transitions are smooth and natural. Each transition is accompanied by piano interludes composed and played by John Sheard.   

I was struck with how each story was so individual, but they all shared a common humanity. In one a little girl tugged at a stranger’s sleeve saying, “Tell her I’m happy” meaning tell the lady next to the stranger she was happy. The lady on the other side of the stranger had lost a young daughter to cancer. We are led to believe that little girl was the spirit of the lady’s daughter.  The spirit of a woman’s grandfather comes to her to tell her he’s proud of her. The ghost of the wife of a proprietor of a guest house ‘visits’ various guests in their rooms to see that they are alright and comfortable. A stage hand brings the music of the 40s for his late night shifts because he feels the ghost who ‘haunts’ the theatre would appreciate that kind of music. 

The most touching story is of a woman who loved and misses her late mother so much but laments that her mother’s spirit does not visit her and she wonders why. Each of these stories has an otherworldliness to them but also aspects of this world as well. Karie Richards is a gently commanding performer, bringing each of her storytellers to life with all their variations. In simple vocal shifts and body language she creates separate and distinct characterizations. 

This is a beguiling touching show done beautifully.

The Slotkin Letter 


Collection of 13 Ghost Stories is Intimate, Mysterious, and Masterful

The Ghost Project, a documentary solo show by Karie Richards, is deeply intimate storytelling. Starting in 2017, Richards began conversations with friends (and eventually friends of friends) about whether anyone had ever had an experience with the spirit world (read: had a ghost story to share). In response, many a story came floating her way. The culmination of these conversations comes together here. Having previously worked on documentaries, Richards took a similar approach when creating this show. She recorded the ghost experiences as told to her, and then transcribed the dialogue. From there, she arranged thirteen unique encounters, one after the other, with director Jeff Culbert.

Richards gets into character for each story and performs a series of monologues, using only verbatim excerpts from the interviews. In this regard, her storytelling is masterful. She alternates between thirteen different characters in 75 minutes, and does so with apparent ease. Her storytelling feels particularly intimate, as if you’re actually sitting down with a friend, and they’re telling you about the strangest encounter they’ve ever had.

The stories themselves are great. They’re entirely varied in their intensity (i.e. spook factor), but each feels detailed and sincere. Whether or not you believe the stories is an entirely separate matter, but it does seem as though everyone who shared their stories believed their experiences to be as they perceived them, which adds a layer of tenderness to the show.

My favourite stories in the collection were also entirely different, narrative-wise. Some involved benevolent spirits, lingering in former family homes or work places, while others involved more malevolent spirits, staking out their old haunts. Other stories were centered around more immediate deaths, where it seemed the spirit had a message to deliver before they could move on.

Perhaps my favourite story of all involved a toddler who seemed to encounter her grandfather’s hard but well-intentioned spirit. He had been estranged from his own daughter before his death. He appeared to his granddaughter, as it’s told, to encourage her to ask her mother to cook with less salt. The child had never known her grandfather, and didn’t know that the bane of his existence had been salt, based on his life’s research. The idea of a distant but scientifically-minded father coming back in spirit form, unable to stop himself from reminding his daughter to watch her sodium intake seemed out there, to be sure, but was also oddly touching.

On the whole, The Ghost Project is a masterful performance by Richards. If you can step into the space and indulge the mystery of it all, I think you’ll have as marvellous a time as I did.

Isabella O'Brien

Mooney on Theatre

Real-life ghost stories come out of the dark in the compelling, entertaining, thoughtful The Ghost Project

Playwright/performer/producer Karie Richards opened the Toronto premiere of her documentary solo show The Ghost Project to a sold-out house in the BMO Incubator at The Theatre Centre last night. Originally directed by Jeff Culbert, The Ghost Project was a hit at the Fringe circuit, premiering at the Halifax Fringe 2018, and went on to the London Fringe and Winnipeg Fringe in 2019. Distilling 13 stories from 28 interviews with friends and family,

Richards weaves a series of monologues, all told in the first person, from the storyteller’s point of view—capturing the gamut of emotional and rational responses; and exploring the thoughts, feelings and questions about what happens to us after we die. The result is a compelling, entertaining and thoughtful piece of verbatim storytelling. 

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever encountered one? While Karie Richards isn’t sure what she thinks, she believes the stories told to her by friends and family—personal experiences with spiritual manifestations that defy explanation and everyday frame of reference; and that ultimately make us question the nature of the afterlife. Each real-life character reveals their story, be it from their university days, childhood or adulthood, or even an experience their child had while they were present. People reacting and responding in the moment; and, in some cases, wondering aloud what it all means. Are these the actual souls or spirits of the departed, or the energy traces they leave behind? Or are these encounters a chance look through a thin veil of everyday reality, providing a glimpse of another time or plane of existence while the one experiencing it remains rooted in their own? 

Encounters with, and messages from, deceased loved ones; former homeowners looking in on new residents/guests; and unexplained events at a haunted theatre space (Alumnae Theatre folk and fans will be familiar) all come into play—with manifestations ranging from malevolent to friendly, frightening to calming, everyday to ethereal. Experiences of shadowy figures blacker than the darkness, a floating blue girl, a surprising encounter during an Indigenous ceremony, the comfort of a nurturing parental energy, and the high-spirited insistence of a youthful presence that evoked profound responses for the storyteller emerge in Richards’ performance. Navigating myriad emotions, from paralyzing fear, to grief and loss, confusion, relief and joy, each character is vulnerable, curious, wonder-struck and thoughtful. Do these spirits want to be noticed and acknowledged? Are they relieving boredom with their spooky shenanigans? Do they have something to tell us? 

Deftly shifting from character to character—signified by the collection and return of a single costume piece or prop from a wardrobe, and remarkable adjustments to voice, facial expression and posture—with a gentle calmness and the care of ceremony, Richards conjures up each storyteller for us, presenting with nuance and profound sensitivity the experiences, reactions and thoughts of each. And her carefully, finely-drawn embodiment of each storyteller makes for a compelling and entertaining performance that goes beyond the storytelling itself. In many cases, it’s the first time the storyteller has revealed their experience to anyone—requiring a high level of trust in, and comfort with, Richards during the interview process that preceded the creation of the piece. The results are eerie, funny, deeply moving and thought provoking. 

Richards’ performance is nicely supported by Glenn Davidson’s minimalist, effective production design, as well as John Sheard’s haunting composition, and atmospheric sound effects supplied by Peter Thillaye and Steve Munro. 

Whatever you believe, The Ghost Project engages as much as it challenges the audience to open up and reach out into the unknown—and entertain the suggestion that death is not the end of our journey, but the beginning of a new one. If you have the opportunity, stick around for the post-show talkback, where audience members are invited to ask questions and share their own ghost stories.

Cate McKim

Life With More Cowbell 

Shouting out the good word on the Toronto arts scene 

"Most people have a story of seeing a ghost or at least know someone who does. For The Ghost Project, writer and performer Karie Richards conducted interviews with people about their experience with spirits and other mysterious presences. The result is an engaging piece of solo verbatim theatre that is deeply moving at times, very funny at others, and always expertly performed by Richards.

Seeing and believing in ghosts is neither a scary thing nor something to be made fun of in The Ghost Project; instead, it is an honest and vulnerable experience to be engaged with seriously and rationally. The cumulative feeling after hearing Richards' selection of ghostly encounters is of a human desire to feel connected to something larger than ourselves. The stories are not about suspense or scares, but rather explore the questions that get answered when someone sees a ghost, and also the many more questions that get asked.  This show is touching and tender, and may make you feel a little less alone. "

Michael Lake
The Coast Magazine
Halifax, Nova Scotia

"The Ghost Project: Karie Richards conducted interviews with twelve different individuals who’ve experienced some sort of ghostly encounter in their lives. The final product is The Ghost Project, in which Richards loses herself in a dozen distinct and memorable roles. Unlike other Fringe hits dealing with the supernatural, this work is less about scares and more about rumination. Richards is captivatingly versatile in her reflections, making her a strong contender for Fringe’s Best Performer award. The Ghost Project goes deep into the subject of mortality and the existence of an ethereal afterlife. It’s not about cheap scares- it’s about understanding the unknown and not having to do so alone."

Carey Bray

Dartmouth, NS based Artist, Actor/Director 

Theatre Critic for The Coast

Online blog, Sitting Ovation

"The subject of campfires and late-night dinner parties comes to Procunier with the delightful characters of Karie Richards’ “The Ghost Project”. Expertly and thoughtfully re-told tales of ghostly visitors and bumps in the night, audiences will love this show. This is a one woman show with Ms. Richards portraying 13 different characters and experiences. Audiences will be spellbound at the honesty and thoughtfulness of this play. Settle in for a lovely play about the spectres that remain on this earthly sphere."

Shelley Carr
Theatre in London

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