The National Elevator Project


The National Elevator Project



Theatre Yes's National Elevator Project is a series of 16 short plays between 3-12 minutes in length that require audience members to ride elevators with actors placing them in the thick of each one-of-a kind performance experience.

The plays are available À la carte or in small curated cycles for events and festivals.  
In elevators we ascend towards the sky and plummet to the earth in mere seconds while jammed into tight spaces with people we don’t know. So, also, our lives are shaped and changed by transactions and collisions with strangers who are transformed into friends and sometimes become family. The life altering events, conflicts and discoveries that take us to the heights of joy and plunge us into the depths of despair can happen in mere moments. Theatre Yes’s NATIONAL ELEVATOR PROJECT challenges audiences to witness themselves and each other in the midst of transformation through the prismatic leans of 16 newly commissioned Canadian plays.
The plays represent all ten provinces in Canada and were commissioned in partnership with Magnetic North Theatre Festival, Mulgrave Road Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Artistic Fraud, Playwrights’ Atlantic Resource Centre, Imago Theatre, Nightswimming Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation, L’Unithéâtre, Shadow Theatre, Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre, The High Performance Rodeo and Rumble Theatre.
The National Elevator Project was conceived and created by Heather Inglis, co-curated by Melissa Thingelstad and Designed by Brian Bast.


Intelligent Theatre

for Adventurous Audiences 

Theatre Yes fearlessly engages audiences in artistic events that surprise, challenge and empower, creating regional and national cultural conversations. We value and honour art and artists as forces that provoke insight and dialogue about complexities of modern life. 

Theatre Yes is risky, challenging, contemporary, theatre. 

Expect Surprise, Challenge, Innovation. 

Expect the Unexpected.

Visit Theatre Yes at


What’s an Elevator Play?
An elevator play is a short play written for and performed in a working elevator. The 16 plays that comprise the National Elevator Project were written by playwrights representing all ten provinces in Canada with commission funds provided via partnerships with 13 theatres, festivals and play development centers from across the country.
What can audiences expect?
Audiences can expect remarkable, live-wired, experiences that place them smack dab in the middle of the action of each play for unforgettable theatre that simply can’t happen in any other circumstance.
Do the elevators move?
In all but one of the plays the audience goes on an elevator ride with the actors. In each case parts of the plays happen while the elevator is stopped, but the elevator ride (or lack of it) is at the heart of each story.
How long are the plays?
The plays are between 3-13 minutes in length.  Some of the plays involve a significant audience interaction and so their running time can vary.
How many people can see the show at a time?
The capacity of each show depends on the size of the elevator and action of the play. We find most of them work best with audiences of 6-8 people. We can usually take up to 10 people in a pinch. We never come close to exceeding the maximum capacity of the elevator we are performing in.
Does the audience actually get on the elevators?
Yes. And it is one of the things that makes the National Elevator Project so unique and so much fun for both audiences and performers.


Elevator plays can be booked à la carte.  Choose one or create a custom combination of plays for your festival or event. Prices will vary, please contact us directly for details.

How can I arrange to have the National Elevator Project at my theatre/festival/or event?

First thing: You’ll need an elevator, at least one, we can rehearse and perform in. Please see the technical requirements below for the details. Every time we tour we custom make the experience for the presenter. Browse through the plays and then send us an e-mail and let us know which one’s you are interested in booking. We’ll send you the scripts and work with you to find the best way to bring the National Elevator Project to you. E-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What about lights and sound?
The plays are designed to have very simple technical requirements. Most of the plays require no lights or sound at all. The elevator is the set and ambiance for each play. The actors control the odd sound or light element themselves with iphones and remote control devices. The actors also control the elevator during performances. Technicians are not required to ride the elevator with the actors.

How many actors do you take on tour?
There are two ways we tour. Either we will bring an ensemble of actors to you or if it is more cost effective and there is a pool of professional actors available we can bring a core team of artists to your centre and remount our productions plays with local casts.
How much will it cost?
The costs will vary depending on the number of plays you want to host, the number of performances and the number of people who we are bringing in.  Since there are so many ways the project can be booked, the absolute best thing to do is to get in touch with us about what plays you would like to host and we’ll start a conversation about the costs from there.
My elevator only has three floors…
That is just fine. There are a number of plays in the cycle that don’t require the elevator to go more than three floors. I love Your Hair and Other Conversations, Sweden, The Righteous Woman, Trajet Dit, First Father can all be performed in three floor elevators. Shepody, Rage and Wolfe, Replay, The Program, 18/19, and Dear Mr. Keith can be performed in buildings with 4 or 5 floors.
It only takes a few seconds to ride the elevator in my building…
All of the plays feature an elevator ride (or the potential of one) in their stories. But most elevator rides are very, very short. Our playwrights took that into account when writing the plays. Each is written is such a way as to sustain the action with scenes happening as the elevator stops on various floors. The speed of an elevator won’t eliminate it as a possibly location for the National Elevator Project.


How to choose an Elevator for the NEP (Technical requirements of performance elevators)
All elevators will need to be in service mode for rehearsal and performance. This means that someone will need to come with a key and flip them into service (sometimes called manual mode) before rehearsal/ performance and them set then back into regular mode after we use them. Often security in a building can easily do this. In the selection of elevators we will need to assess how the elevators work in manual mode —they don't all work the same way.
We will need to ensure that all the elevators have lights that stay on for the duration of each performance. In some newer elevators the lights go out automatically if they sit in one place for more than a few minutes. Generally speaking the only way to find out if they do this is to ask for the elevator to be put into manual /service mode and hang out inside for a few minutes (10) and see. They are a little like refrigerator lights. No one sees them go off, so generally security and staff don't know it happens. In some cases they can be set/programmed not to do this. In others they can't. We will need the elevators to remain illuminated even if they sit in service mode for 10 minutes or so.
In some elevators the doors can be closed and stay closed in service mode. In some they cannot. It is ideal if the elevator doors can be closed manually when sitting in one place. Again generally the only way to determine this is to visit the elevator, ask for it to be turned to manual and test it out.
It is possible to use the elevators without them being in manual only if they are operated individually, that is if they are not part of a larger bank of elevators. When elevators are in a bank they can be called by anyone in the building at any time. So elevators in banks must be in manual for rehearsal and performance.  
Some elevators, newer ones, will automatically go to the bottom floor between each stop (yep). Most won't when they are in manual. We don't want this. Something to watch for.
We've found it is useful to let venues know exactly how an elevator will be used in order to secure the use of the elevator. We have technical information available for each play which we can send to you on request that outlines how each elevator is used for each play.


What People

Alberta Primetime 



"An indelible experience"

- Paul Blinov - Vue Weekly (CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE)

"Full of surprises, suspense and unexpected discoveries"

- Edmonton Journal

"The National Elevator Project was an incredible night of theatre"

- Annette Loiselle (Audience Member)

"So intimate and exciting and varied and fresh"

- Elenor Holt (Audience Member)

"The first of its kind in Canada"

- Huffington Post

"An elevated experience"


"Elevator ups ante on intimacy"


"plays they won’t soon forget..."



Heather Inglis



Theatre Yes, 2014