It's difficult to write today, and I'm not really sure why I am....
This week, one of my friends and a great mentor was taken in a car accident. Michael Green, co-founder of Calgary Theatre Company One Yellow Rabbit was, as my dear friend Ryan Gladstone said, "a giant". For so many who lived in Calgary, Michael was a fixture in the Theatre scene - and it's heart-wrenching to imagine him being gone.
There have been many beautiful and articulate tributes pouring out from across the country and around the world for him. He touched a lot of lives and I count myself very fortunate to be one of them. The tributes have been stunning. I've found a great deal of solace in reading them. When I read that the city of Calgary had turned some of the lights in the downtown core Yellow in his honour, I wept.
It's difficult to be away from Calgary right now. I haven't lived there in many years, but whenever I go back there - it feels like a home-coming. A huge part of my Theatre-family is there. There will be a memorial for Michael on Monday, and I sorely wish I could be there for it.
The first time I hung out with Michael Green was at the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival in the early 2000's. I had seen his work with One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary and to me, MIchael and the Rabbits were like Rock Stars.
Very late one night after the beer tents on the Fringe grounds had shut down, us fella's from Monster Theatre and some pals got a copy of the Flaming Lips' album, "Zaireeka" and four stereos and hijacked a theatre and had ourselves a good, old -fashioned listening party. For those who don't know - "Zaireeka" requires four stereos to play the album. Each disc is played simultaneously (and at high volume for full effect). It's pretty much an instant party.
I would read the track descriptions out loud between songs, and then count down to start the next track.
And, just as we got rolling, Michael Green, Blake Brooker, and David Rhymer all snuck in through the back door of the theatre to join us. I was stunned! How had they even heard about this happening?
Michael said, "We heard there was something cool going on..."
That was the first time I hung out with him. For many years after that, Michael would often pop up in my life when I didn't expect him. I would turn, and there he would be, a big smile on his face, and just digging whatever the next cool thing was...and every time I would run into him, he would invariably make me feel like whatever I was doing - whatever I was working on was not only cool, but worthwhile.
He spoke with such heart about creating art and theatre. He made it sound like it was valuable, but always with a smile on his face. I will miss his sincerity, his humour, and his gift for popping up when I least expect him.
Like many artists, I get to a point where I think "what the hell am I doing?", and often it's Michael's voice that I hear that helps me to move forward. He once said to me, "there's somebody out there that needs to see this..."
He left a mark, and will not be forgotten.
Cheers, Michael. And... thank you.