Archive for the ‘Morag Northey’ Tag

I can’t go on, I’ll go on . . .   3 comments

You will recognize those words.   Guillaume'spic

They are not mine but of one of my literary heroes, Samuel Beckett. My other favourite quote of his is:

No matter

Try again

Fail again

Fail better.

Words to live by, or so I think, on any account.

So where have I been, you might ask? Well, let me tell you . . .

The last you heard from me, I had been in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. An early and unpleasant premonition of my ultimate demise, I suppose. They went into my stomach with a gastroscope and cauterised the vein that was the source of the problem. I was meant to lie in the hospital for three days while they observed me but I had a rehearsal for a play I was dramaturging that night, so I checked myself out the next morning. I am a person of the theatre, after all.

That was one of two plays I was involved with at St. Mary’s University in Calgary. The other was a new play of mine called First and Last, which we produced at St. Mary’s and then immediately after with Rogues Theatre in Calgary. Both productions were directed by my friend Joe-Norman Shaw. If you are interested in a play for fifteen actors, with more female roles than male roles, let me know.

Somewhere in there, I did a cameo in a movie by director Guillaume Carlier titled Everybody Altogether Now. Thus began my career as someone who appears but doesn’t really perform, hence my new title for myself, Appearance Artist. (How brilliant is that?!) The photo above is from that film.

After that, if you can believe it, I was in a ballet!  Our Canada, conceived by one of my favourite artists and people,  Alberta Ballet artistic director Jean Grand-Maitre. I played the ghostly presence of Gordon Lightfoot. ballet1

Here I am slaying the Alberta Ballet Dancers. It was a beautiful ballet, and as you can imagine an amazing experience . . . but then anything is possible when you’re an Appearance Artist!

From there, I went to the Sunset Theatre in Wells, British Columbia, where I (guess what?) appeared in Morag Northey’s amazing creation for cello and narration, titled 17. This was another incredible experience. Morag is one of the most brilliant performers I have ever seen and heard. To sit beside her on stage night after night and witness her awesome artistry was something you can only dream of. We’re hoping to do the piece in Calgary before too long. Here she is, hard at work in the theatre lobby.

Morag17

At the same time, I taught two terms in the MDRT Program at Calgary’s Abes College. This is a program for health care professionals from around the world, aimed at helping them get a job here in the medical system, instead of working at Tim Horton’s or driving Uber. This continues to be one of the good things I do in my life. Sure it pays some bills, but I love the students and I try to help them feel at home here in their adopted country of Canada. This is my student Jen celebrating the end of a brilliant term together.

Jen.jpg

I’m teaching a playwriting class at St. Mary’s currently. I am writing a play for my friend Duval Lang about an incident from the life of Calgary legend Bob Edwards. And I am writing a series of short stories based on life in my old neighbourhood in Regina, back in the day.

Busy as usual, broke as usual, and it will come as no surprise, recuperating from having my old heart broken,yet again. Sigh. I really had high hopes this time.

I will try to make this a much more regular appearance and have an exciting announcement to make in my next post.

I hope you are all well! Stay warm, take your Vitamin D, remember to smile.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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A Reading And Celebration Of My Novel The Piano Teacher   2 comments

On Friday October 9 at 7:00 PM Stickland 2015on the second floor of the Le Forte Centre at St. Mary’s University, located in Fish Creek Park in south Calgary, I will be reading from my novel The Piano Teacher. To bring some musical artistry to the even, my friend Morag Northey will be helping me out. Morag is one of the finest cellists in the land. We first worked together on my play Queen Lear, for which she created a musical score and performed every night in the original production of the play.

I’ve been involved with St. Mary’s in one way or another since 2005 when we took a small production of my play Closer and Closer Apart  there one winter’s evening. I loved the “boutique” nature of the place — a small (but ever-growing) student population, small class sizes, excellent faculty.  In my mind it offers a liberal arts education the way it’s meant to be done and I’ve been proud to be associated with the place these last 10 years.

So, if you want to check St. Mary’s out — it’s a beautiful campus off of Bannister Road near Fish Creek — and you would like a signed copy of my novel, and even the chance to hear me read from it, and of course hear Morag as well, please come by Friday evening.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanks for reading.

 

A Book Launch: The Literary Event of the Century!   7 comments

Everyone who’s anyone will be there . . . so read on!

The three notebooks I wrote the first draft of The Piano Teacher in, and the first page. Such a long journey.

The three notebooks I wrote the first draft of The Piano Teacher in, and the first page. Such a long journey.

On May 7 at Shelf Life Books in Calgary, I will be launching my novel, The Piano Teacher. Beyond launching a single book in a sense I will be launching a new incarnation of myself, this time as a novelist, adding to but not necessarily replacing other incarnations which have included, to date, musician, playwright, journalist and educator. (I may be missing a few.)

I suppose one way to stay young and humble and hungry is to leave your comfort zone and try something new. (Isn’t that what the Lulu Lemon bags tell us to do?) It’s always a bit scary and there is no real safety net but the risk of failure and public humiliation is not new to me.

Over the course of my writing career which includes to date 15 plays and almost 300 newspaper columns and numerous and various magazine articles and poems, I am quite used to sharing my failures along with my few successes.

For me, hell is not failure; hell is to stop trying new things.

I found the writing of the book to be straightforward enough. It’s written in the first person, in the form of a diary, so in a sense it’s an extended monologue – very extended, in fact, it’s about 70,000 words.

I wrote it mostly in Caffe Beano in the three small journals pictured here with a mechanical pencil. Yes, it’s true, I still prefer to hand write my first drafts when time allows. After I had filled the three notebooks, I was fortunate to receive an Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant to transcribe it from those handwritten journals into my computer which was  a labourious but productive process.

The only part of the journey that was difficult and even unpleasant was finding a publisher. Being an award-winning playwright seems to offer little advantage when looking for a publisher for a novel.

I only showed it to two people in this regard, and both times I got the same response, that it doesn’t have a broad enough commercial potential. Quite frankly, I was proud of that, and maybe I’m arrogant (because I’m too old to be naïve) but I think the writing holds together well enough and because it’s about a classical musician, a concert pianist, and because I assume the classical music mob is one that actually likes to read, I think I’ll be ok.

I have no illusions that I’ll make a million bucks, but I’ll at least have a work I am proud of and that I created purely on my own terms.

And so I just said “Fuck ‘em. I’ll do it myself.” And so I am, through my own boutique publishing company, B House.

I have written about B House before on this blog (see, for example, Publish and Perish in my archives). Our biggest difficulty in the past (one of many, I assure you) has been with distribution. I think I have solved that problem by having it printed in two different ways.

Locally, as we have been doing, it is being printed by Blitz Print and those are the copies that will be available at my launch May 7. Over the summer I hope to get copies to other independent book stores in Calgary (Pages and Owl’s Nest) but by and large if you’re in Calgary and wish to buy a copy,  your best bet is to go to Shelf Life Books on the corner of 4th Street and 13th Avenue SW.

At the same time, the book is also available on line through Blurb.ca or Blurb.com depending where you are in the world. (As is my play Queen Lear. Other titles will be made available in this way over time. At least that’s the plan.)

If you would like to buy the book on line, simply copy and paste this link and order away:

http://blur.by/1JCifkt

Beside providing you with hours and hours of entertainment, it will obviously make a nice present for your child’s piano teacher, or for Aunt Mable, or for the mail man, etc. etc.

Sorry, but one has to engage in some shameless self promotion from time to time.

As I was writing this post, I heard from my dear friend Morag Northey who informed me that she is going to bring her cello and grace us with some music at my launch. Morag created the musical score and performed the role of the cellist in my play Queen Lear at the Urban Curvz production a few years ago. Her support for this novel of mine means more than I can say.

If you’re in Calgary, I would love to see you at Shelf Life Books on May 7 at 7:00 PM. There will be wine and cheese and Morag and music and I will obviously sign your copy of the book – who knows, it might be worth something some day.

And wherever you are, I would appreciate your support through my online sales. Contrary to popular belief, we artists don’t live on air. It’s nice to eat.

Thanks for reading!

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