A Sort of Homecoming…..
It’s been said that “you can never go home again…” I wonder at this every time I come back to the place where I was born and raised. Calgary is a city which is constantly changing but there is something to this place that is immovable like the nearby rocky mountains, welcoming, and full of comfort.
I arrived in Calgary late on Friday after having taking the train across Canada (well… Toronto to Edmonton, and then the Red Arrow bus down) and found myself settled into the beautiful place where I’ll be staying for the next week.
Col Cseke, artistic director of Calgary’s Inside/Out Theatre managed to find me an apartment right across the street from the Glenbow Museum where I’ll be performing until Saturday night. It’s absolutely perfect. The weather was bitter cold, but soon a Chinook wind blew in and warmed up the city.
Saturday evening I managed to catch the closing night performance of “Crime Does Not Pay”, written by the inimitable David Rhymer and Crhis Demeanor, presented by Downstage Theatre. It was a beautiful show that will stick with me for a long, long time. A new musical about vintage-age comic-books? Right up my alley, I’d say. There is such great work being produced here and it was a pleasure to have the chance to see some of it.
I opened “Assassinating Thomson” last night at the Glenbow Museum. I’m set up in a gallery full of beautiful local art, and the capacitiy crowd was full of friends, colleagues, and supporters of Accessible theatre. My heart leapt to see so many friendly faces in the crowd. To be performing this particular show in this location is perfect, and a kind of coup, if you will…
It was while working for the Glenbow many years ago that I discovered the work and the lives of Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, and the Group of Seven. I realized all those years ago that there is easily a show’s worth of material in their story alone. So, to be back here now and doing this show, well, I really couldn’t ask for better. It was a night full of inspiration, laughs, and even a few tears.
Inside/Out presents works by disabled artists (“theatre for every body”). Kathy Austin, a local artist, has created tactile paintings for the audience to experience before the show. Her versions of Thomson’s work are absolutely beautiful. She’s put together a “touch box” which the audience are encouraged to experience before the show. Such a cool idea.
The ASL interpreter, Joyce, worked her butt off to keep up with my pace of story-telling. She was amazing.
Following the show, there was a wealth of connection one-on-one. Col auctioned off the painting, and it was a feverish bidding war right to the end, with the piece eventually going to Donna Sharpe (who I had worked with many years ago at Quest Theatre here in Calgary… we spent some big, big hours in a van travelling around Alberta… Congrat’s Donna!). The post-show mingle included some great dialogue about Thomson, Canadian Art, value of this kind of work, and some beautiful new friendships being formed.
What a night.
After all the chairs were put away, Col and I stood at the top of the stairs by the big Northern Lights sculpture and marvelled that this was only the first night. How quickly this week will go, and then I’ll be back on the road again. I felt my heart sink a bit at this thought, and then was cheered knowing that I can always come home again.
My heart swells with gratitude for Inside/Out Theatre, Col Cseke, Kathy Austin, the ASL team from FLIC, the Glenbow Museum. and of course the people of Calgary who make me feel so very welcome.
“Assassinating Thomson” runs until Saturday night at the Glenbow Museum. Shows nightly at 7:30.
Tickets can be found: