Firing Up a High Horsepower Imagination

Take a walk with One Yellow Rabbit's Michael Green, curator of High Performance Rodeo, into his creative headspace.

It stands to reason that one of the most creative minds in Calgary can fire up his brain pretty much anywhere, including and especially, the city’s extensive network of elevated pedways downtown, the Plus 15.

Smash Cut Freeze
Smash Cut Freeze
“They are the tubes that connect building to building, and each building has its own culture,” says Michael Green, co-founder of Calgary’s beloved experimental theatre troupe One Yellow Rabbit (OYR). “There is something very neutral about these places and I get all kinds of ideas in those situations; it’s almost like my imagination is busy filling in what could happen there.”

Green also fills in the line up for Calgary’s other rodeo – the one in January, not July. OYR’s High Performance Rodeo doesn’t (often) include horses or other livestock, but the month long festival of innovative theatre is fuelled by high-horsepower imaginations.
For example this year’s run – the 25th – includes Brian Eno, internationally renowned experimental artist and musician (and the guy responsible for the little ‘ding’ that we hear when our PC launches Windows), the wonderful Canadian story "Billy Bishop Goes to War," a gay rap opera, an orchestra from Quebec doing Tom Waits tunes and for good measure, some Edgar Allen Poe and a musical celebration of immigration to Alberta.
Eclectic doesn’t even begin to cover the rodeo, or the artistic interests of the man who puts it together. Aside from moving through the Plus 15s, Green likes to spend time on one of Calgary’s trendiest streets, 17th Avenue, regardless of the weather.
L’Orchestre d’hommes-orchestres Performs Tom Waits
L’Orchestre d’hommes-orchestres Performs Tom Waits at Theatre Junction

“I have no problem with the cold,” he says. “I actually like strolling down 17th. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets, I enjoy that. I love frequenting my favourite little wine bars, and that would include Jaro Blue and Ming.”

As for visual art adventures, Green and his 13-year old daughter like to head off to visit a variety of galleries around town. “There’s the Paul Kuhn Gallery on 11th Avenue SW, I do like to pop my head in there. But my own roots go back to the artist run centres, like the New Gallery (in Art Central downtown) and Stride in particular (on McLeod Trail), so I always check out what they’ve got on.”
Green and his daughter also like to see what’s happening at the Glenbow Museum. Like her dad, she has a voracious appetite for Calgary’s creativity. “She’s got an artistic bent I am happy to say,” reports Green, with relief.

And while his daughter enjoys the whimsical walk in the Plus 15s from the Glenbow through the Arts Commons – complete with audio installation, art displays, colourful murals and a window above a theatre prop shop – she doesn’t quite understand her father’s fascination with other Plus 15s in town.

“I people watch and I day dream and I get ideas,” Green Sr. explains. “I get ideas for all kinds of things. People I should talk to, people who should meet each other, shows that we should have at the rodeo, or even what to cook for dinner.”