Tuesday, 3 March 2015

On the Shoulders of Friends

It's always the place that's easiest to cry.

Four years

Yesterday, this blog turned eight years old, and I began my fifth year of solitude: I was a bit weepy around the house where I have spent all of these anniversaries, but that was about it, which is a vast improvement.

What I went through four years ago, the cultural community here in Calgary endured in February, with the sudden death of Michael Green, co-founder of One Yellow Rabbit theatre company, in a car accident out on a lonely, wintry stretch of highway north of Regina. At an impromptu wake the next day, when the news broke, many of my friends were as inconsolable as I had been: shocked, saddened, and left without someone who had been a vital part of the city's creative life.

Open water

Ironically, I met Michael in doing my installation piece The Simplicity of Ritual, which I began immediately after returning from scattering my sweetie's ashes: the glass-walled gallery I was installing in was across a stairwell from his glass-walled office. We talked often about art and performance, and it was Michael who tagged me as a "performative knitter," which I did then, and still do, wear proudly.


The love that the Rabbits showed me in the weeks I spent creating that installation I have tried to repay by volunteering with them for the High Performance Rodeo: it was one of my first true ventures into regaining "normalcy" and confidence in having a full and creative life again.

Mark Bellamy, of Lunchbox Theatre, was one of the speakers at the formal memorial for Michael, and he talked about Calgary 2012, our year as a Cultural Capital of Canada, for which Michael had been the artistic director. Michael had the brilliant idea of getting people to come out and participate in a lip dub of Sweet City Woman and asked Mark to direct the video, even though he had never done anything like that before.

But as Mark said, "Michael wouldn't get you to do something he didn't think you would be great at, so I did it." (And the result is here: sadly, I wasn't part of this, as I was out at my residency in Ontario at the time.)

What's on top?

Michael and I had been talking about me doing another performative knitting thing for the High Performance Rodeo, and as someone who isn't exactly comfortable with being out in the public eye (now there is an understatement), it was something I knew was going to challenge me greatly. The last time we talked, less than two weeks before he died, we had a few laughs and he made some wonderful suggestions. I would be irresponsible if I didn't carry through with it, and so part of my moving-on is to do it.

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