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!

Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 022

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.



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.

Survivors of 1980s AIDS crisis reveal what happened to them

1st-ever First Nations student among 3 Rhodes scholars named at U of A

Thank you, Harry Somers and Barbara Chilcott!

Harry Somers: Composer 1925-1999

Joseph Campbell: The Mythic Image

Yesterday I wrote of the serendipitous moment…the connection with and collection of a stack of books, books of the sort that God seemed to pass to me for safe keeping.  Well, the story doesn’t end there because through correspondence with the generous person who was the keeper of the collection, I learned that they were the treasures of the composer, Harry Somers and the thespian, Barbara Chilcott.  I have since read about their accomplishments in the fine arts, both nationally and internationally and have sat here at the computer, listening to many compositions performed that were written by Harry Somers.  I feel as though I have been introduced to two human beings who have given a lifetime to expressing the human spirit through their work.  The ‘stuff of life’ is so very remarkable!  Thank you, Harry Somers and Barbara Chilcott and thank you, Joy!

Barbara Chilcott: 1962

Larousse Enclopedia of Mythology

Feller From Fortune composed by Harry Somers.

Barbara Chilcott played the part of Mrs. Tannenbaum in Lies My Father Told Me.


I’m inspired by the ideas and photographs published here.  And…as I consider solitude, a whole number of thoughts come to mind.  For example,  I disappear into art.  I might be with others, but in an art gallery, I enter into relationship with paintings,  drawings and photographs, sculpture and pieces of art-glass.  Companions, other visitors and dealers circulate within the same spaces, but I am virtually alone.

Kootenay Lake: Remembering Pauline

I love to relax with an awesome piece of literature, but just as much, I enjoy the conversation that happens when I meet someone who has read the same book.  Time with a book is ‘magical’ solitude.  It most often happens by soft light, curled in bed late at night.  It is comfortable.  It is quiet.  It engages my spirit, my feelings and my mind.

I enjoy reading on public transit.  It seems that most everyone else is plugged into electronics, finding their own place of solitude.  I like that I can sometimes near my stop, without realizing it because a book has carried me to a different place.

Solitude is enjoyed while  sitting in the dark, watching a piece of beautiful dance or theater.  With dance, I process my own ‘stories’ and sometimes just enjoy the abstract sense of movement, light and music.  I like the sense of bodies in close proximity…other people engaged in the very same moment, but NOT really engaged with my very same moment.  I enjoy the intimacy of watching beautiful, strong and flexible bodies moving through space for my sake and my pleasure.  The dance speaks to me and again, I experience no judgment, pressure or sense of responsibility to the movement.  It is almost as though it serves me, although I know that unless the viewer brings something to the piece, it is unfinished.

I enjoy watching live theater, especially work that makes me laugh.  I hear myself laughing out loud.  I mean, I REALLY hear myself laugh and then…the play disappears for a moment and I cry in the dark…cry for happiness of hearing myself laugh.  I know that I have many unanswered questions.  I know that I am often-times troubled by various changes that keep happening in my life…but, I cry for happiness and love that comedy causes me to laugh.  There is a huge solitude that I experience in that whole process, alone in the dark.

Writing is a place of solitude and there is very little that feels as satisfying to me.  I feel so calm, watching words fly across a ‘page’.  I try to write something every day.  It is as though writing can take me to a place of solitude that is very honest and so ideas are generated, problems are resolved and feelings are expressed. 

Hiking, even with friends, is a place of solitude.  I like the sound of each step…because on the trails, as I exert myself, each step becomes something that I consider.  Muscles come alive.  I feel sun or rain on my face.  Unlike the hectic life engaged with work and social activities, hiking brings me home to myself.  I see things because I slow enough to notice.  I hear my footsteps.

In Fatal Wanderings: Thoughts on Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild”, solitude becomes a tragic circumstance.  And, very honestly, sometimes I feel that I am pulled into a sad place in a circumstance of too much solitude…but, what I’ve tried to write about tonight is the absolute wonder and magic of solitude in just some of its forms.  Solitude can be a very beautiful thing.