Dear fellow Shebangers,

Thinking of you all and wishing you a warm and creative 2017.

2016 has been a year of great personal hardship for me and I am overwhelmed with how both my creative practice as well as deep personal bonds have served to keep me afloat through what has been the most trying few months of my life.

In June last year, my beautiful, brilliant and talented 23 year old son was diagnosed with an extremely rare auto-immune condition. He developed massive blood clots that blocked the functioning of his heart and lungs, which they were subsequently able to treat. However, huge clots leading to his liver appear to be untreatable, and most likely he will be facing a liver transplant. He is stable right now, but we begin a long waiting game which may take weeks, months or even years, and we are continually facing a future full of uncertainty and over which we have little to no control.

On one hand, this situation has put into sharp relief where my life priorities lie and I have had to choose carefully my projects and gauge my commitment levels accordingly. But, it has also become abundantly clear to me how important it is to make the most of this precious time we have together on this earth.

With my son’s gracious blessing, not to mention his father’s (as he has been his principal caregiver for the last few months) and the support of my incredible partner, I have been able to continue (at a much reduced pace) with my artistic practice, and it continues to be immensely healing, perhaps in part because it allows me to express my unbearable maternal sorrow in another guise, but also because it brings me together with folks who are passionate about both creating and also living their practices deeply and fully. More and more I feel though, that even though I am performing less, that the line between creating and daily living is blurring, and and that what I truly wish to strive for is to bring beauty and integrity into all aspects of my daily life and relationships rather than compartmentalizing my artistic life.

Through this difficult time, I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to work with my fellow artists in Birdbone Theatre. This year, in a very short period of time and in a frenzy of creative energy, we were able to create three new shows. As a commentary on the issues of continued pipeline expansion, we created a smash-bang Punch and Judy hand puppet and variety show cabaret, Brainseed and Mouth Set Out to Slay the Pipeline Dragon, perhaps so we could all revel in a laugh or two in spite of the lingering smoke of the Beast that still hung over parts on Alberta and Saskatchewan.

As part of a Toronto Arts Council and Arts in the Parks initiative, we created a community shadow-puppet solstice extravaganza, Light on the Lakeshore, in Amos Waites park. We participated with community members who helped us construct the puppets, puppeteer and build lanterns. The wonderful Balfolk Toronto organized community dancing as part of this gorgeous multi-faceted community event.

Finally, our current touring show is a courage ballad to all of those who have been politically or economically displaced: the thousands of Syrians, many who have lost their lives crossing the ocean, the workers in Alberta fleeing the Beast, and the being forced back home once again to keep the economy rolling as it were, and to indigenous peoples who struggle continuously to protect their homeland, their water, their lives. Iks and the Machine, our shadow puppet opera set to an eerie soundscape, is currently on its way to Greece. Birdbone is connecting with an amazing group of theatre artists and puppeteers to share the work in the streets of Athens, but also in refugee camps. We thank The OAC and the help of generous sponsors who helped us make this happen.

Sadly, I am unable to go along to Greece, for reasons you will all now understand, but I am excited to see how these travels will shape and transform the show and my beautiful fellow puppeteers before we come together again in the spring and tour the show back in Canada.

As always, I am incredibly grateful for the way the Shebang effect continues to trickle through my life through all of this. It continues to help to both ground me and feed me.

Love, light and blessings to you all.