Yesterday, I met my friend Max at the Passport Office to sign his passport application as his guarantor. Max is off to New York in a couple of weeks to take part in Requiem for a Lost Girl – it is a production being mounted by the amazing Onalea Gilbertson whose original production, Two Bit Oper eh Shun? had its world premiere here in Calgary in the spring of 2010. After two years of hard work preparing the stage for its off-broadway debut, Two Bit has become Requiem and the cast has shifted from being a collaboration of Calgary musicians, artists, and residents of homeless shelters, to a mixed cast from New York, and Calgary.
Max, and his guitar-playing friend John, are two original performers from the Calgary Drop-In who are flying to New York to participate.
As Max and I waited for his turn at the wicket to submit his application, we chatted about this year’s production and the excitement of flying to New York. He’s never been before. Never experienced the craziness of the Big Apple and all it has to offer. He is excited.
“Onalea loves the subway rappers and break-dancers and wants to include some in the show,” he told me. “I’ve decided to write a rap piece and weave The Manifesto into it so that there’s a continuity that makes sense.”
The Manifesto is the original piece Max wrote for Two Bit that weaves the story of Onalea’s friend from her teen years who ran to the streets and was lost. It is a haunting piece. Surreal. Evocative. Weaving rap into the threads of sadness and hopefulness that The Manifesto evokes will be a challenge.
Max loves the creative challenge. The opportunity to stretch his musical muscles beyond the known into the unknown territory of unexplored notes and harmonies rising up and connecting in new sounds, new melodies, new refrains.
He is excited.
As am I.
I worked with Onalea throughout the making of Two Bit. I watched her stretch and grow and expand her knowing through the divine threads of creativity that wove their way in and out of Two Bit to create a powerful story of a young girl’s life lost to the dark side of the street far too soon for her to find her way back into the light.
I am incredibly proud of my friend Onalea. She has been committed to create this opportunity in New York not just for herself, but for everyone who was involved. She has struggled and pinched pennies and tightened belts and overcome obstacles and navigated choppy waters and skirted obstacles to stay the course. Requiem for a Lost Girl will be performed as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival July 17 & 18 for three shows. Do check it out, and if you happen to be in New York — GO!!!! You will be amazed. And wowed!
Onalea is amazing.
This is her show. Her moment and as is her nature, she is graciously and lovingly sharing it with those who have made a difference in making it happen. Originally, the plan was that I would join her in New York to help with pre-production and to ensure production moves along without mishap. But Onalea doesn’t need my help. She has grown and expanded. Her original fear of how to handle all the intricacies of working with shelters has evaporated. She’s done it. She’s doing it. She is shining!
“What I want is you to be here to share this,” she told me on the phone over the weekend. “I want you here because you deserve to be here.”
I have debated ‘to go or not to go’. To witness such beauty of expression. To be part of such a shining event would be a gift.
Yet, I know it is not my path.
Over the past several months, as I’ve moved further from ‘shelter life’ into the realm of possibility beyond homelessness, my path is clear. My role in Requiem is different from Two Bit. It is simpler. Help with passport applications. Pay the fees. These are all things I can do with ease.
I love my friend Onalea. Love her amazing heart. Her shining spirit. And to be there for her would be a gift — but not as a paid attendee.
To go and laugh and cry from an audience seat. To cheer her on — now that’s another matter.
Yes. Being there as an observer, supporter, cheerer on-er. That would make a difference. For me. For her. And for Max and John, two men of beautiful spirit who have committed to the long road of travelling to New York to be part of something special, to make something special even better.
Onalea is making a difference.
And the biggest difference I can make for her is to cheer her on and say — You Go Girl! You are amazing!