When Emptiness Turns Inside Out ~ Cello, Story and Song
Aug 3 & 5, 10-12
Written and performed by Morag Northey
Featuring Eugene Stickland
Directed by Dirk Van Stralen
Lighting Design by Gerald King
17 is a 50-minute theatrical, multi-genre fusion of poetry, prose, cello, voice, storytelling, composition and improvisation that takes its audience on one whale of a ride through Morag Northey’s journey as a woman, artist, mother and indomitable spirit. We get a glimpse into the magnitude and depth of this prolific artist from her labelling at birth as 'reluctant debutante,' to premonitions as a young girl that foreshadowed the suicide of a good friend's daughter, to comforting whistles she vigorously emitted while working in one of Canada's leading psychiatric institutions, that kept ‘would be’ perpetrators at bay. During 17’s final refrain, having traversed a raw and challenging landscape, the audience is brought to a place of understanding that in our troubles 'we are not alone.'
Morag Northey is an outstanding cellist, award-winning composer, writer, producer, singer, and teacher. As a soloist, Morag has played exclusive engagements for the 2010 Olympics, Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean and the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Over her 35-year career, she has played in numerous orchestras, chamber ensembles, musical theatre productions and musicians which include Tony Bennett, Linda Ronstadt, and Lyle Lovett.
"It takes as much effort to write a good play, as it does a bad one. '17' by Morag Northey is a great one. "
Morag Northey -
Creator, Writer, Performer
Morag’s passion for musical expression and theatre has been witnessed through her compositions and sound designs: Butcher ATP (Betty Mitchell Award) Queen Lear by Eugene Stickland Urban Curvz, Blanche Onalea Gilbertson, Vanishing Point, Why Freud Fainted ATP, Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare Co, Hamlet, Sunset Theatre and collaborated with Kong Kie and Marjorie Chan in Hello Cello, Good-bye Heart, Banff Playwright’s Colony.
She has performed exclusive engagements the Governor General of Canada Michëlle Jean and the Dalai Lama Now tour. Her voice and cello can be heard on numerous films and album recordings including her own This is the Life with Red Venus Blue Tango.
As Principal Cellist Morag has played: Crazy For You, The Little Prince, Mary Poppins, Next to Normal, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Camelot, (Theatre Calgary), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Wizard of Oz (ATP), Jeremy de Bergerac – Forte Musical Theatre Guild, Les Miserables (Live Ent) , Phantom of the Opera (Mirvish Productions) and West Side Story, (Rawlings).
An inspirational teacher for over 36 years, Morag’s studied at the Vancouver Academy of Music, Victoria Conservatory, Camosun College, University of Texas at Austin - BMus, University of Calgary - MMus and the Orchestral Training Program of Toronto. She has played with numerous orchestras and ensembles as both principal cellist and soloist. Please visit moragnorthey.com.
Morag Northey developed her play 17, through the Sunset Theatre's Exploration Series during a five year period that included: artist retreats, a compilation of writings, musings and songs; dramaturgy with playwright and dramaturg Michaela Jeffery; public readings with the final script being birthed under the dramaturgy of award-winning playwright Eugene Stickland during the Sunset Theatre's 2016 summer season.
Morag compiled all of her writing in a book entitled 'Whispers'. This collection of poetry, prose and song was workshopped and performed in two sequential theatrical showcases and included a collection of 170 works chosen from a larger body of work.
During the summer of 2016, the goal was to take these pieces to create the final script, with the working title of Whispers. The process gave way to the premiere of '17' Cello, Story and Song. The hope is to tour this production to various theatres and venues across Canada and around the globe.
"I gave up all hope of being anything but, myself."
Eugene Stickland - Dramaturge and Cast
I came to Calgary in 1994 when I began a ten-year residency at Alberta Theatre Projects, establishing a reputation as one of western Canada’s most prominent playwrights. All in all, I have written fifteen plays, some of which have been produced many times across North America and beyond. My play Queen Lear, for example, had a two-year run in Istanbul in Turkish translation and is currently running in Russia in Russian translation. While at ATP, I began writing a feature column for the Calgary Herald’s Saturday Entertainment Section which allowed me to write about theatre and anything else I chose about for a potential weekly audience of half a million people. At the same time, I have always had a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation. I have taught or held residencies at a number of institutions and situations, including the National Theatre School of Canada, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, York University and the University of Regina. I am currently writer in residence at St. Mary’s University in Calgary where I teach creative writing. For a number of years I was the Canadian delegate to the World Interplay Festival in Australia and in that capacity worked with and mentored young playwrights from around the world. In 2015 I published my first novel, The Piano Teacher, which was awarded the 2016 W. O. Mitchell Award. I am currently opening a new play which was commissioned by St. Mary’s University titled First and Last.
Gerald King - Lighting Designer
Recent credits for Gerald are: Crazy For You, (Citadel and Theatre Calgary)The Music Man and The King of The Yee's (Gateway Theatre), Dead Man Walking, Otello, Evita and Romeo and Julietta,(The Vancouver Opera), Da Kink in My Hair,(Theatre Calgary and National Arts Centre), King Lear, Cats, Much Ado About Nothing, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Theatre Calgary), Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Bard on The Beach), West Side Story and Beauty and The Beast (Theatre Under the Stars), Million Dollar Quartet, Spamalot, (The Arts Club Theatre), The Cure For Death by Lightning, (Western Canada Theatre). His work has also been seen with opera Theatre and Dance companies across Canada and the US including; Kokoro Dance, The Royal Winnipeg Dance Co, Omaha Opera, Baltimore Opera, Ballet British Columbia, the National Ballet of Canada, Manitoba Opera, Dance Theatre of Harlem and numerous others. He has won several Jessie Richardson Awards (Vancouver’s Theatre Awards) and is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada.
Dirk Van Stralen - Director
Dirk is a four-time Jessie Richardson Theatre Award Nominee for acting. (Vancouver’s Theatre Awards) Also, an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, his single panel cartoon, Vanstralen, appeared in Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight for 17 years. He is the illustrator of two wordless kids books: Ben’s Big Dig and Ben’s Bunny Trouble. His latest art show will be at Island Mountain Arts in Wells, August 25 to September 24, 2017. He most recently directed Mamma’s Boy, the newest play by Mike Delamont (God Is A Scottish Drag Queen). When not on tour with Jake’s Gift, Dirk works for Barkerville Historic Town, the largest historic site in western North America. www.barkerville.ca
Statement: In a year that included the privilege of seeing seminal pieces of theatre like Betroffenheit and Onegin, the bare-bones workshop production at the Sunset Theatre of 17 ranked, along with those pieces, among my favourite theatrical experiences ever. On the page, 17 doesn’t seem like it ought to pack that kind of wallop, but its raw honesty, combined with Morag Northey’s inspired music and gifts as a performer washed over me with the power of a tsunami. I treasure the opportunity to direct this beautiful work in the crucible of the Sunset Theatre, which was host to our own theatrical journey creating Jake’s Gift eleven years ago. To work in our own hometown of Wells is both a welcome treat and a potent reminder that excellence is not the exclusive domain of larger artistic centres. It can happen anywhere.