RENOWNED LECTURE SERIES ARRIVES IN CALGARY
The renowned women’s lecture series Unique Lives will be presented in Calgary for the first time this year. The series has found a home in Vancouver and Toronto, as well as American cities, such as Denver, Buffalo and San Jose, over the past 21 years. Calgary’s inclusion is noteworthy as a recognition in the city’s population growth and observed interest in arts, culture, and intelligence.
The lecture series will present Dr. Maya Angelou (October 28), Amanda Lindhout (February 25, 2013), Lucie Arnaz (March 18, 2013), Dr. Jane Goodall (April 22, 2013) and Sigourney Weaver (May 28, 2013) over the next nine months.
Howard Szigeti, the executive producer of the series proudly presents his ever-expanding perennial project.
“We try to move forward and come up with a fresh, sizzling line up every year, in every city. So, you know, for Calgary’s point of view, we haven’t even begun, we have got tons of names that we can draw from. My goal in year one is to bring my A game.”
Unique Lives is an appropriate name to represent female lecturers who have consistently led inspirational lives across fields from conservation and social justice to entertainment and the arts. Szigeti, for one, has a place in his heart for Dr. Maya Angelou, after whom he named his fourth child. However, it will be several years likely before the 84-year old writer, producer, social activist and three-time Grammy winner returns to Calgary.
“We hope that Calgary sort of embraces all of this and sees that this is a great opportunity to enlighten,” explains Szigeti. “The reality is that it will be fully packed with women, and it is a great experience to hear some of these role models and the things they have to share, especially Dr. Angelou – she is over-the-top inspirational.”
While Unique Lives tends to attract women, it is typically an older crowd who attends due to the sizeable price tag for the full series, but Szigeti laments it wasn’t intentional, it is just how the series has worked out.
“If I sat and analyzed each individual name, Sigourney Weaver, arguably, might not even be known to some younger artists on a Hollywood level. You know, she is not Kate Hudson or Drew Barrymore, so her brand may not evoke attendance to a younger crowd; by virtue of her own age, it kind of tilts the scales to an older group. Dr. Jane Goodall arguably is universally appealing. Lucille Ball, a tribute through the mind of her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, is certainly an older fascination. You had to be watching TV in the ’50s to be in love with Lucie. Amanda Lindhout is really a local favourite for all Canadians and Dr. Maya Angelou just transcends all age groups. So if you had to filter in the ingredient of disposable discretionary monies for the entertainment industry as a general rule, sure you are going to find it is going to be a 40+ crowd [of women] who aren’t as burdened with newborns and mortgages.”
Overall, Szigeti has been one of a kind in his approach, so he hopes to see similar trends develop here in Calgary that have become part of the entertainment in other cities.
“This program is as meaningful for women now as it was 20 years ago in the absence of anyone having an intellectual program for women and creating an environment where women can go out and have fun and leave the pizza money on the table for their husbands. It kind of helps to regiment the otherwise empty promises of, ‘let’s do dinner,’ and so my show typically adds the glue to keep that clique of friends together and they do it on the heels of going out to Unique Lives.”
Visit uniquelives.com for more info. The full series is available for purchase online, but the individual tickets for Dr. Angelou are now available, after which Unique Lives will be sold as a four-part series.
By Andrea Llewellyn
Maya Angelou photo: Dwight Carter
Jane Goodall photo: Stuart Clarke