Archive for the ‘Calgary artists’ Tag

17 in Taos   3 comments

Imoragblogn 2016, cellist Morag Northey approached me for dramaturgical guidance on a work she had in mind, a narrative of her life journey told through the cello with some accompanying narration.

Morag had created and performed the cello score for my play Queen Lear some ten years earlier. We knew we worked well together and so it was a natural evolution.

When we first met about it, Morag presented to me a binder of poems, song lyrics, prose poems etc. etc. she had written over the years. It was 170 pages! With so much material, and given that the narration would need to be secondary to her cello playing, it seemed to me as long as we were working from that binder that very little would come of it.

A few months later, we were invited by Karen Jeffery to develop the work at a residency at the Sunset Theatre in Wells, BC. It was a generous and timely offer. Morag actually forget to bring the binder with her to Wells (thank God, there are no accidents!) and so once ensconced in the Sunset Theatre we began work anew, afresh, unencumbered by that daunting tome of 170 pages.

The result of our efforts is a lean script of some 20 pages that provides a narrative through line and offers Morag the opportunity to share her considerable talents on the cello, as well as vocally, and in this manner tell her story. It is titled 17.

In performance it is a unique situation where the vocals accompany the instrument as opposed to the other way around.

We were invited back to the Sunset Theatre in 2017 to further refine, rehearse and perform the world premiere of 17. It was a beautiful production all around, and anyone who has heard her story and heard her playing at this level has come away from the experience profoundly moved. It’s a powerful piece.

I would have thought, ongoing, that Morag would have found a female performer to do the narration, but she likes the male-female balance of energies, and she likes my voice, and so we have performed 17 on a few occasions since our production at the Sunset Theatre. We even made a recording of it earlier this summer.

It is a very unique piece, quite unlike anything I have ever seen before, let alone been a part of. It doesn’t really fall into any recognizable categories. Is it a play? Yes and no. Is it a cello recital? Yes and no. Is it performance art? Perhaps. A performance piece for solo cello and voice with accompanying narration might come closest to the mark.

Because of its unconventional nature, it’s hard to know where to seek out performance opportunities. We have done a few house concerts, and recently performed at the theatre in Cochrane as guests of the teatro dell eco company there, run by the lovely team of Daunia Del Ben and Lauie Stalker. As always (and if I do say so myself) our audience was profoundly touched by the honesty of Morag’s story and the power of her performance.

And so, as you may well imagine, when a performance opportunity comes along, we are loathe to turn it down. We have now been invited to travel to Taos, New Mexico to perform the American premiere of 17 and as it seems such an important step in our journey with the piece, we didn’t feel we could turn it down. The trouble is, financially speaking, we can’t really afford to go there, either.

The wonderful group of artists in Taos have offered everything, all of their resources, for us to have a good performance there. But where we find ourselves short is in transportation and actually paying ourselves for our work.

The cost of transportation is very high around the American Thanksgiving. If that weren’t bad enough, we have to pay an extra full fare to transport Morag’s cello properly and safely.

And so, to make this happen, to be able to share this Alberta-born, BC-produced work of art with our American friends, we have started a GoFundMe page to offset some of our expenses.

I hope we can rely on the support of our friends in the cyber community to make this important performance happen. If you wish to make a donation, our page at Go Fund Me is called “17 in Taos.” Morag and I have put the link on our Facebook pages. And if it’s easier and less complicated, there is a DONATE button near the top left corner of this page. (It’s yellow, you’d think you couldn’t miss it, but then again, I’ve only ever had two donations, a trend I hope we can reverse now!)

Thanks so much for your consideration, friends. I know times are tough and money is tight in the arts these days, but we must soldier on. This is a great opportunity to share some Canadian art south of the border, but we can’t do it without your help.

Thanks for reading!




Arts Benefit for Inn from the Cold   Leave a comment

On Saturday May 5 at the site of the defunct Indigo Store in Mount Royal Village here in Calgary, a group of artists, musicians and poets known collectively as the Oilman’s Review (V.5) are presenting a group art show. It’s a fundraiser for the Calgary Inn from the Cold Program, a very important program that helps shelter and feed homeless families in Calgary. (There’s a copy of the poster with all the info at the bottom of this post.)

I seem to have gotten myself involved and will be reading some poems and having some kind of slam style competition with Calgary’s Poet Laureate Chris Demeanor.  There will be a silent auction for the works of art being produced for the event as well as live music. From what I know, the event is not licensed but the Metropolitan Grill is just upstairs.

I love the concept and energy of this event. I like that different artists are coming together to create something for a good cause. It’s always seemed to me that if you put enough creative people in the same room, anything can happen.

Maybe after the tension of the recent election, we could all use a good blow out.

Well, here’s your big chance.

One of the pieces I’ve been asked to read is my earliest poem.

Finding this masterpiece led to a rather warm and not always so fuzzy Sunday afternoon, going through a big suitcase (above) full of my journals.


The suitcase contains about a hundred or so of my completed journals, but I probably have another fifty or so kicking around my apartment and my office at St. Mary’s.

The earliest one is this one, which I started while I was in Grade 12, back in 1974. It’s full of very, very bad poetry. Now I understand why many artists actually burn their journals. Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.







I found an extremely lugubrious poem (what an EMO boy I was!)  which I am prepared to read at the Oilman’s Review this Saturday night. If you want to know what the poem says, you’ll have to show up in person. See you there!

Thanks for reading . . . .




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