Michael Green was a force in Canadian theatre; a leader in the Calgary arts scene as a co-founder and co-artistic director of the innovative One Yellow Rabbit theatre company, founder and curator of the High Performance Rodeo arts festival, and curator and creative producer of Calgary 2012, the city's arts initiative for the year it was named cultural capital of Canada.
On Tuesday, Mr. Green, 58, died in a horrific car crash in Saskatchewan. He was on his way to a school on a reserve to work with students in a drama program. There was great interest in the Calgary 2012 legacy project Making Treaty 7, for which Mr. Green was creator and executive producer. The three others in the vehicle were also killed: Kainai First Nation elder, scholar and filmmaker Narcisse Blood; Michele Sereda, artistic director of Regina's Curtain Razors theatre; and Regina-based multidisciplinary artist Lacy Morin-Desjarlais.
The tributes have been vast and heartfelt, and have come in from all across the country, and beyond. Here is a small sample of the things people have been saying about Mr. Green this week:
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi
He arranged for me to get a Blackfoot name prior to a performance of Making Treaty 7 and it was just emblematic of him. He was in the midst of not only a great artistic triumph but a triumph that changes how we think of our First Nations neighbours and how we move forward on a shared path together and he thought it would be a nice opportunity to do something nice for me. And that was really Michael in so, so, so many ways.
Fellow OYR co-founder and co-artistic director Blake Brooker
He was a connector and an energetic, very wild spirit and a cunning producer and a knockout performer and his genius lay in his energy for making things happen. And he was a wonderful collaborator. We were co-directors for a long time and partners for a long time and we each did something that the other couldn't do and we rarely talked about what we did. It was one of these relationships where you just live it; you don't analyze it to death – and you give space and oxygen to the other person. We complemented one another in terms of our practice and our work at One Yellow Rabbit in the sense that we both had a real desire to make things happen in this city.
Calgary Arts Development president and chief executive officer Patti Pon
He was such a visual external person – that laugh, that smile, that hat, the hair. The long, lanky posture and his stride. Like, you knew Michael Green was walking into a room – whether it was on stage or in passing on his way to be an audience member for somebody else. And I think his compassion for this community, his commitment to the theatre community, especially in Calgary but certainly across the country, and internationally – I mean, the wave of grief and loss will be felt around the globe.
Theatre Calgary artistic director Dennis Garnhum
Nine years ago when I first started at Theatre Calgary, we didn't partner with the Rabbits; we didn't have a relationship. Within weeks of my arrival, Michael said 'I'd like to partner with you; I'd like Theatre Calgary to play with us in the Rodeo.' And as I started to sniff out the city I thought 'This is the most important guy in town doing a really cool festival.' I joined the festival the first year we did Catalyst Theatre's Frankenstein; we'd never done something like that. I remember thinking: 'If Theatre Calgary's going to matter, we're going to be partnering with this company.' And I've said many times on stage: Theatre Calgary's cool factor has gone way up because we play with the coolest company in town.
A celebration of life will be held Monday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. at the Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons.