As Reported in Metro

By Katie Turner, April 4, 2012

Members of Calgary’s homeless community will be taking to the New York stage this summer, performing in an off-Broadway production they helped create.

Originally performed in January 2010 under the title Two Bit Oper Eh? Shun, the now titled Requiem For a Lost Girl was selected as a special event for the New York Musical Theatre Festival this summer.

DI clients contributed original poems, songs and first-hand stories to the production’s co-producer and creator Onalea Gilbertson, who crafted the story of a young woman lost to homelessness.

Eight clients at the DI, including Max Ciesielski, performed in the chorus during the show’s debut and have been invited to perform three shows in New York City this July.

“We were just stunned,” said Ciesielski. “It’s a huge honour.”

Gilbertson, who is currently in NYC, is working with other shelters to involve homeless people in New York in the production.

“The piece was created to shine a light in the dark corner of society that is homelessness,” she said. “It’s something that really needs to be talked about.”

With a background in theatre as a set designer and builder, Ciesielski said he knows his 10-day stint in New York in a big deal.

“I probably know maybe half-a-dozen people who have done off-Broadway after all those years,” he said. “Personally, it’s a big step.”

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