Archive for the ‘Taos’ 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!

 

 

 

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