A Splinter In the Heart

An adaptation of the coming-of-age story written by Al Purdy, A Splinter in the Heart was performed, yesterday afternoon,  by the Festival Players at Rosehall Run in the county.  The screenplay adaptation was written by David Carley.

What a beautiful Reader’s Theater to watch…under the blue sky…under the white tent…on the edge of a vineyard.  It was absolutely magical.

Directly from Carley’s site, I’ve included some lines from the play.  From these lines on, both Carolyn and I wept quietly in our seats…right until the very end.  And how appropriate that I should have mapped in an ancient tree on a large panel before Dad and I headed out to the venue early in the afternoon.  I just completed the painting late this afternoon.

‘Portugee would ask, “You ever stand in a pine grove, Patrick? It’s like you feel yourelf changing into a tree. There’s a brown forest floor under your feet from the needles, and there’s wind, higher up, a sound of the sky. Yep, for just an instant, you feel like a tree. And the trees themselves, they was made into ships, sailing ships for all the seas. And I always wonder, “Did them trees ever feel what it was like to be a ship?”

You ever feel like a tree, he’d ask? And every time he asked it, I knew it was the ONLY thing that was worth feeling.’

I didn’t know that Bob and Carolyn were attending and I was so excited to see them! Over the years,  I have worked with drama students on various reader’s theater performances, including my favourite, Love You Forever, by Robert Munch.  I always wrote my own scripts for these performances.  I’ve also seen some professional productions by One Yellow Rabbit and really enjoyed those, also.  But, I have to say, yesterday afternoon’s performance definitely tugged at my heart strings.

The sound devices and staging of the production were fantastic, along with the exquisite performances of the actors.  I will always remember this production.  Very powerful, in its execution and in its content.

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On the evening of Gord Downie’s final performance with the Tragically Hip, just up the 401 in Kingston…this.

Lonesome Cowboys and Brave Hearts

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!

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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.

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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.

Lonesome Cowboys and Brave Hearts

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.

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Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 016 Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 017

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.

G. W. and Rafe

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!

Barry and Steve

1994 artical

Panel Discussion Friday

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.

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