Throwing it Back to ‘69
A play on the history of Calgary’s LGBTQ+ community
Melanie Walsh, Sports Editor
For all lovers of Calgary and the rich, diverse history the city embodies, 69: Legislating Love & The Everett Klippert Story will be an accurate depiction of Calgary’s gay culture in the late 50s and early 60s.
I know that may sound a little heavy; it did for me at least. As a journalism student pursuing a career in sports coverage I chose to go a little out of my comfort zone and write an advancer for this play. I consider myself to be a pretty open person and I am always up for new adventures and learning new things so when my fellow arts editor and I decided to swap a story I thought, why not?
It was a chilly and grey January evening when I found myself climbing out of my bed to head to the C-train to go attend a reading series for an up and coming play. I was tired from the previous night before as I covered a major sporting event and my body ached slightly from maneuvering my body every which way to snap the perfect action shots. However I had no other plans and I was really looking to expand my horizons in the New Year.
After a brisk walk from the City Hall Station I came to # 112, 535 8th Ave S.E., a cozy little loft with people chatting and sipping locally brewed beers. Everyone seemed a little different, yet they all seemed at home. I had gone alone but I felt welcomed and comfortable enough to take a program and a seat.
The reading series was called It’s Getting Drafty In Here. Scenes written by local Calgarian and Mount Royal University professor, Natalie Meisner were going to be read so she could receive some feedback from the audience as she writes the rest of the play.
I knew little about the play apart from it being set in Calgary and it being about the LGBTQ+ community. As a relatively new citizen to Calgary and an ally to the community my interests were peaked.
With the risk of giving too much away I will just say this, I was truly moved. It’s a timeless story of meeting someone and falling in love and all the chaos that comes along with that and what it was like to be gay in the 50s and 60s but it also sheds light on the current situation.
After the two actors read the scenes and I got my first blasts from the past, Meisner and Jonathan Brower, Third Street Theaters artistic director, opened the floor up for discussion. Calgarian historians, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the Calgary Gay History Project all weighed in with their opinions.
Meisner and Brower noted that inspiration for the play came from the saying “many generations walk over the same points” and that it is important to look back at history to understand today.
The play is set to be full of empowering messages of resiliency, with humour and insight on what life was like for former Calgarian Everett Klippert, the last man to be tried, convicted and jailed for homosexuality in Canada.
The most memorable scene from the series for me took place in the iconic red and yellow Chicken on the Way. “It’s anti-romantic but isn’t that when you find somebody… In some oblique odd way,” said Meisner.
I thought back to my boyfriend and I and how we met at the University of Calgary’s student pub, The Den. It wasn’t the most romantic way, but I am so glad we met and I get to explore this city with him.
I chose to go into sports journalism because I was always so fascinated by the passion athletes have to devoting their lives and bodies to their chosen athletic hobby. It was eye opening for me to take a step out of an arena or gymnasium and look into the art that makes this city what it is today. A city with more than just the Calgary Flames and the red mile, the Stampeders and the Grey Cup. A city that is cultured, diverse and full of love.
The full production of 69: Legislating Love & The Everett Klippert Story will be hitting the stage sometime during their 2016-2017 season. If you would like to get an inside scoop and watch the story unfold you can head to an installment of It’s Getting Drafty In Here Feb. 19 and March 18, 2016 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Loft 112.