I enjoyed such an amazing event last Friday at Loft 112! The past couple of weeks have been a struggle and I’ve missed many arts events in the community because by evening time, I’ve felt beaten down. But, at the same time, I’ve referred to my calendar anyway and noted my ‘must go’ note where Friday evening was concerned. I headed down to the core, anticipating something pretty special!
There had been a little bit of press…a beautiful article showing up in Calgary’s December 2nd Herald. For a succinct background, take a look at that one, here.
Contained in the article, a handsome photograph of Barry Thorson and Steve Gin as they appeared in the 1994 production of Brave Hearts at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary.
Photo Courtesy: DAVID SCOLLARD / CALGARY HERALD
Directly from Factory 112’s event page, the invitation appeared on Facebook.
Loft 112’s interdisciplinary arts series, Factory 112, takes on a more intimate tone as we partner with HIV Community Link, The Gay History Project, Chromatic Theatre & Teatro Berdache honour AIDS Awareness Week with a special anniversary reading of one of Calgary’s first independently produced queer plays.
In 1994, Harry Rintoul’s award-winning AIDS drama BRAVE HEARTS opened at The Pumphouse Theatre, with the Calgary Herald proclaiming it “An Act of Courage.” Calgary actors Barry Thorson and Steve Gin appeared as “Rafe” and “G.W.,” a Saskatchewan seismologist and ranch hand whose chance meeting at a party reveals their aching loneliness and changes their lives forever.
Barry and Steve reprise their roles in this one-night only reading, directed by Karen Johnson-Diamond. An informal panel discussion follows, led by Chromatic Theatre’s Jenna Rodgers, and featuring members of the cast, Tereasa Maille of The Calgary Queer History project and Mark Randall from HIV Community Link.
Reading begins at 7:30 pm, but come early and join us for a drink and conversation, with doors opening at 7 pm.
Admission by donation, with all door proceeds being donated to HIV Community Link.
Lisa Murphy Lamb, Director of 112 Loft space, exuded warmth and excitement upon our arrival. We were offered up laughter, conversation and a lovely pre-function social. The space was electric, with a backdrop installation by Scott Barry, part of SPARK Disability Art Festival.
In retrospect, I’m very surprised that the story didn’t get picked up by other media as this was a ‘must see’. A masterful arts educator, I wanted to finally see Steve Gin in an acting role. Steve and I worked together for a short while, along side Jenn and Rylan, a power house team of arts educators. Unless you’ve seen this man engage a child-audience, you really don’t know what inspiring teaching is. It’s an amazing thing when gallery spaces nurture some sort of educational programs, for the revenue they generate, but mostly for the substantial meaning that they create.
But as well as creating meaning for young audiences, Steve has a way of sustaining, if not captivating, an adult audience as well! I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve listened to one show tune after another, when Steve is really on a roll…and always ‘in role’ as other great performers. The guy knows how to throw out a hand full of amazing impressions, my favourites being Carol Channing and Ethel Merman. Whenever I start laughing out of control, this feeds Steve’s insatiable appetite for entertaining. Surely my Calgary readers have had opportunity to meet our local Andy Warhol at a number of events in the city! In fact, the first time I met Andy was back at the Glenbow Art Gallery in the 1990s.
Last Friday, Steve WOWed the audience in his role as G.W. Lovely pacing…powerful dynamics…this reader’s theater spilled raw and authentic emotion out over its edges. I found the delivery compelling and the engagement between G.W. and Rafe honest and true to the struggles of two gay men in a time that I really know little about. This was the night of my revelation about so many critical issues as they relate to gender, sexuality, social engagement and health. Thank you.
I will always remember the feeling of laughing out loud and crying, both, as I watched this performance. It was so compelling to have the same two actors perform parts that they had explored 21 years earlier. I felt that the bond between these two friend-actors was as powerful as the bond created between the two characters, making the play, doubly satisfying. Bravo, gentlemen! Excellent directing by Karen Johnson-Diamond!
Photo Credit: Lisa Murphy Lamb
Following the play, a panel discussion was opened up to the audience. I cried several times during this period as the shared-narratives opened up a deeper understanding within me. Jenna Rodgers of Chromatic Theatre moderated an intelligent and thought provoking discussion, featuring the members of the cast, Tereasa Maille of The Calgary Queer History project and Mark Randall from HIV Community Link. I had a chance to chat with Mark Randall before the play. He is such a funny man! I learned that Mark was a child of a military family, as I was, and I thought about how that narrative might have played out, growing up as a gay person.
Steve Gin has generously shared some links that might be of interest to my readers on related topics. I feel smarter. I hope that I can be more understanding and inclusive. I think it’s imperative.