Review: CONFLICT

by Lynn on October 29, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming on line until November 1.

From the Mint Theatre, New York City.

Written by Miles Malleson

Directed by Jenn Thompson

Sets by John McDermott

Costumes by Martha Hally

Lights by M.L. Geiger

Sound and original music by Toby Algya

Cast: Jeremy Beck

Henry Clark

Graeme Malcolm

James Prendergast

Jessie Shelton

Jasmin Walker

Amelia White

A play about the have’s vs the have nots, politics, doing good for people and trying to bridge the huge gap between class distinction and entitlement. A bracing play written in 1925 but is as timely as tomorrow.

NOTE:  Conflict was produced by the Mint Theatre in New York City before a live audience a few years ago. This is a filmed archive of the performed play. The Mint Theatre specializes in doing lost plays that have been forgotten for whatever reason, but still have a point and bite for today’s audiences. Conflict is such a play.

The Story. Conflict was written by Miles Malleson a British actor-playwright-screenwriter. It takes place in the sprawling London house of Lord Bellingdon. His daughter Lady Dare Bellingdon is a lady of leisure who is in an odd relationship with Sir Ronald Clive. Late one night Sir Ronald Clive is having a drink at Lady Dare’s house and they both notice a man lurking outside the window. He has been following Sir Ronald at his house too. Lord Bellingdon joins his daughter and Sir Ronald because he’s aware of the man as well. They set out to trap him when the man gets brave enough to sneak into the house.

It’s Tom Smith, a man who is down and out, sick and hungry, who at one point was at Cambridge with Sir Ronald. Sir Ronald now holds a Conservative seat in the government.  Smith has come to beg for some food and perhaps some money.

His family had means at one time –hence he was able to go to Cambridge—but then his father lost everything, his parents died soon after.  Smith tried to eke out a living for about five years and he was at the end of his rope and hope so he came to Sir Ronald, the only person alive he knew, for help.

Both Sir Ronald and Lord Bellingdon gave Tom Smith some money. Sir Ronald said he gave him £25 and Lord Bellingdon said he gave him two £5 notes. We learn from Tom that in fact Sir Ronald gave him £100 and Lord Bellingdon gave him two £10 notes. The money afforded Tom the means to rest, get better and read.  

Two years later he’s a changed man. He became interested in the Labour Party.  He comes to tell Sir Ronald and Lord Bellingdon that he intends to run against Sir Ronald for the seat in that area. And he meets  Lady Dare Bellingdon. She represents the upper classes who have no idea of the world outside their upper echelon circle. She blithely tells her father she and a friend were planning to go to Paris for a few days to buy some clothes. They have no idea of what it’s like to be poor. And of course she’s intrigued by this very polite man with firm ideas and fierce conviction about how to treat all people and why he is so interested in a socialist society and how the top 10 percent want to keep the rest in their place.

The Production. The Mint Theatre stage is small but John McDermott’s well appointed set of gleaming rich wood, plants and stuff suggests people of means live there. Martha Hally’s costumes, especially for Dare are beautiful and tasteful. You can imagine she buys her clothes in Paris.

The acting is superb. Jessie Sheldon plays Dare Bellingdon with sophistication, a sense of entitlement, perhaps a bit of boredom but the knowledge that there is something more she must get out of life. She finds her soulmate in Tom Smith, beautifully played by Jeremy Beck. Tom is proper, a modern man who has learned something from Dare. He underestimated her and when he finds her to be a spirited, intelligent woman he treats her like one. He respects her abilities and believes she can and should speak for herself and not do what he might want her to. He’s impassioned and compassionate.

As Lord Bellingdon, Graeme Malcolm is properly stodgy but holds his own in an argument. With Tom his world is about to be changed forever. Henry Clarke plays Sir Ronald with an accommodating air. He’s eager to please Dare but also believes in the idea that women should not be too intellectual or curious. 

The whole production was directed by Jenn Thompson with style and nuance.  

Comment. One of the many beauties of this play is that it’s not a cut and dried play of one side being good and the other bad.  Lord Bellingdon speaks with conviction of how he believes that in a properly ordered society everybody should be in their proper place. He does not believe the classes should mix. He finds it unseemly for Tom to beg for money—but Lord Bellingdon gives it to him anyway, and more money than he says he gave. Of course Lord Bellingdon has never been poor or hungry so for all his conviction we know his attitude is one of entitlement.

Sir Ronald is interesting because he does talk of the strides that had been made in education, health and society for the betterment of all people. He will not play dirty politics or hit anyone below the belt—refreshing or what. (How times have changed).  

But it’s Tom we sympathize and side with. He’s known both comfort and privilege and sickness and poverty. And he wants to make a better life for the people who have never known wealth. He makes his points to Dare. He her asks how many rooms there are in this great house. She doesn’t know. He guesses 30. There is a country house too also probably with 30 rooms. Tom notes that all this is for two people. Dare says there are also servants not just her and her father. We love the naivety. Tom figures there are about 20 servants for both houses. He tells her to imagine three people living in one room. She becomes intrigued with what he is saying and begins reading and going to his meetings. And of course they warm to each other.

I thought it was a rich, deep play that can speak to us today.

Conflict streams on line for free until Nov. 1, from the Mint Theatre in New York City:

www.minttheater.org The password for the site to see the streamed play is vote! I found that rather witty considering what is going on in the States.

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Live at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake,  Oct. 17, 2020 2:00 pm

Part of the Shaw Festival Fall Concert Series.

Jackie Maxwell Theatre

Directed by Tim Carroll

Music Director, Paul Sportelli

Choreographed by Kimberley Rampersad

Cast: Kyle Blair

Andrew Broderick

James Daily

Kristi Frank

Élodie Gillett

Alexis Gordon

Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane

Jonathan Tan

Bravo to the Shaw Festival for keeping many of its actors employed by coming up with this concert series devoted to the works of: Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Dorothy Fields. Initially these concerts were offered only once over three weekends in October. They have now decided to offer them over the month of November. Details below.

This concert, devoted to the works of Cole Porter,  was supposed to take place outdoors in the Baillie Courtyard, but the possibility of inclement weather, wanting to protect the piano, and fearing the chairs would sink in the soggy earth,  necessitated the concert be moved indoors to the Jackie Maxwell Theatre. There were round tables with chairs for 2 and four people, each properly distanced.

The audience of 50, for the most part, was masked (notes on each table urged us to wear our masks at all times). I say “for the most part’ because two people wore their masks hanging around their necks for the whole time they were in the room. It’s those touchy moments when an usher is needed to gently remind them of the obvious but no one did. I also wished there was even a simple one sheet program that listed the songs and who sung them. Something to keep in mine for the next time.

The cast of eight entered, masked, carrying instrument cases. They too sat on chairs with a music stand in front properly separated.

Jonathan Tan graciously welcomed us.  He said that some of the work of Cole Porter was problematic because it was racist. What to do? He said that the cast and creative members discussed the problems. Cancelling Cole Porter was not an option. Tan said that some of the offending lyrics were changed or removed. For some reason he didn’t indicate what those words were. I had heard that in earlier versions of the concert, given for donors, he did mention the words, but not here. I think they need to be said. A whole chorus in “Let’s Fall in Love” was cut, as it usually is, because of its offensive names for some peoples.

In these sensitive times a comment that references the cut chorus is needed. Language used in earlier times is not used now. The word gay had a different connotation in the 1930s than it does now. I don’t want the offending chorus re-instated. But I think it needs to be stated to reference its offensiveness. And we need to hear it.

Cole Porter’s genius as a wordsmith is obvious in such songs as: “Let’s Fall in Love”, “You’re the Top,” “Just One of Those Things,” and “Anything Goes.” He plays with internal rhyming, language and dextrous phrasing. Your head is swimming with his mastery of language.

The cast of eight to a person sings beautifully and with joy. They are directed by Tim Carroll to focus on the singer singing and show their appreciation when the singer finishes. Instead of applauding, they snap their fingers. Kimberley Rampersad uses clever choreography to augment some songs. As for the music cases, they contained tap shoes. The cast gave a rousing version of “Anything Goes” to conclude the show, first tapping while seated then for full blown tapping while standing. Terrific.    

For a schedule of what concert will be offered for free in November, please go to:

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This is a bold, impressive line-up of new works from Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu.

OBSIDIAN THEATRE ANNOUNCES FIRST MAJOR PROJECT UNDER NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MUMBI TINDYEBWA OTU. Toronto, ON.

21 BLACK FUTURES 21 playwrights, 21 directors, 21 actors 21 visions of the future of Blackness Monodramas written by Peace Akintade , Keshia Cheesman , Lisa Codrington , Miali-Elise Coley-Sudlovenick , K.P. Dennis , Cheryl Foggo , Shauntay Grant, Lawrence Hill , Kaie Kellough , Stephie Mazunya , Tawiah Ben M’Carthy , Motion , Omari Newton , Amanda Parris , Joseph Jomo Pierre , Donna-Michelle St. Bernard , Jacob Sampson , Djanet Sears , Luke Reece , Cherissa Richards , and Syrus Marcus Ware.

In the wake of a historic 2019-2020 season which saw the company produce three acclaimed productions, win the Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Pass Over ), two Dora Awards ( Caroline, Or Change )and four Toronto Theatre Critics Awards ( Caroline, Or Change and Pass Over ), as well as saying goodbye to long-time Artistic Director Philip Akin and welcoming incoming Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu , Obsidian Theatre is pleased to unveil the first programming to be developed under Tindyebwa Otu’s leadership and to offer a window into the company’s plans for the future.

At a unique moment in history, Black stories are needed more than ever. The necessity for the Black community to heal, to connect and to re-envision a future outside of current systems is raw, real, and fully felt. As the company enters its 21 st year of operations, in February 2021, during Black History Month, Obsidian Theatre will premiere 21 BLACK FUTURES . An anthology of 21 filmed monodramas, commissioned from 21 multigenerational Black playwrights across the country, directed by 21 Black directors and performed by 21 Black actors. Premiering digitally, 21 BLACK FUTURES will respond to the question, “ What is the future of Blackness ?”

The 21 playwrights commissioned under the project are Peace Akintade (Saskatchewan), Keshia Cheesman (Calgary), Lisa Codrington (Toronto), Miali-Elise Coley-Sudlovenick (Nunavut), K.P. Dennis (Victoria), Cheryl Fogo (Calgary), Shauntay Grant (Halifax), Lawrence Hill (Hamilton), Kaie Kellough (Montreal), Stephie Mazunya (Montreal), Tawiah Ben M’Carthy (Toronto), Motion (Toronto), Omari Newton (Vancouver), Amanda Parris (Toronto), Joseph Jomo Pierre (Toronto), Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Hamilton), Jacob Sampson (Halifax), Djanet Sears (Toronto), Luke Reece (Toronto), Cherissa Richards (Manitoba), and Syrus Marcus Ware (Toronto).

“21 BLACK FUTURES encapsulates a lot of what I hope to develop and grow in this next phase of Obsidian Theatre ,” says Tindyebwa Otu . “ Under the previous visionary leadership of Alison Sealy-Smith and Philip Akin, Obsidian has a long-standing tradition of introducing new Black artists into the ecology. This project takes that tradition to a new level, making a large gesture that speaks to the work I want to continue to do with the company. As we continue forward, I want to reach out and find more new Black voices nationally, give them the support they need to grow and a wide-reaching platform on which they can be seen . I also want to create opportunities to experiment with content and form and to consider the possibility of a Black aesthetic.” “ With this one project we will be spotlighting the work of 63 Black artists from across this country – some of whom are part of Obsidian’s legacy and many who are part of our future. What I believe we will find within that wide and multi-generational range of artists is the beginning of an exploration into the diversity of the contemporary Black voice. It allows us to really lean into Black identity and explore what that means in the future. I hope what naturally flows from this project and this cultural moment is that we can continue to grow Obsidian’s capacity as an organization and flood the country with thriving Black theatre artists as diverse as our community is today. 21 BLACK FUTURES is a project born of the current moment. Announced as the incoming Artistic Director for Obsidian in January of 2020, by the time Tindyebwa Otu began her tenure at the beginning of July, the coronavirus pandemic had effectively cancelled all forthcoming live theatre productions and a global outcry against anti-Black racism was at the forefront of cultural and political discussions. “ I felt an urgent need to respond to the moment we’re in and to create an opportunity for Black artists to respond.” says Tindyebwa Otu.

As the pandemic continues to impact traditional theatrical production, for the next several months Obsidian will focus on the development and production of 21 BLACK FUTURES, workshopping the scripts through the fall in preparation for rehearsals and filming. TO Live has partnered with Obsidian on this project as the venue sponsor for the filming.

Additionally, Obsidian will continue development of the new Black opera Of The Sea by Kanika Ambrose and Ian Cusson, a co-commission and co-production with Tapestry Opera; new musical Dixon Road with book, music, and lyrics by Obsidian Artistic Producer Fatuma Adar, in collaboration with The Musical Stage Company; and new play Blood and Memory by Dainty Smith .

Obsidian’s Playwright Unit will also continue this season featuring writers Leighton Alexander Williams and KayGeni. More information about 21 BLACK FUTURES including the line-up of directors, cast, and streaming platform, will be announced later this year. For more information about Obsidian Theatre, visit obsidiantheatre.com

About Obsidian Theatre Obsidian is Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre company. Our threefold mission is to produce plays, to develop playwrights and to train emerging theatre professionals. Obsidian is passionately dedicated to the exploration, development, and production of the Black voice. Obsidian produces plays from a world-wide canon focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the works of highly acclaimed Black playwrights. Obsidian provides artistic support, promoting the development of work by Black theatre makers and offering training opportunities through mentoring and apprenticeship programs for emerging Black artists. Obsidian Theatre Company was born out of a passionate sense of artistic responsibility – a responsibility to bring the Black voice, in its many artistic dialects, to Canada’s cultural forefront. Obsidian encourages Black artists to expand their vision of what they perceive, create and present to a national audience. Obsidian continues to play a prominent role in Canada’s theatrical mosaic by showcasing the work of both emerging and established Black artists. Since its inception, our development programs have led many artists to expand their professional development and create new Canadian works. Through our training programs, we produce plays, develop playwrights and train emerging theatre professionals

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Mon., Oct. 26, 2020  to Nov. 1

ON LINE:

CONFLICT

From the Mint Theatre in New York City (a company focusing on rarely done, almost forgotten plays. It’s terrific. Written in 1925. Takes place in London, England. The Conservatives vs the Labour Party. A curious rich woman learns about the other 99% of the population. As modern as today.

Available for Free On-Demand
Streaming through November 1st
    Conflict is a love story set against the backdrop of a hotly contested election. Miles Malleson combines his two great passions: sex and politics. The result is a provocative romance that sizzles with both wit and ideas.

Don’t miss out! Stream Conflict byusing the password
vote!           Click here for details on How to Watch             HOW TO WATCH:  CLICK HERE be taken to the Production Archive Page for CONFLICT. Click on the first image under the Videos heading. You will be prompted to enter the password, vote! You will also be prompted to enter your name and a valid email address. Click the four arrows in the bottom right corner to watch the video full screen. For Closed Captioning, click the CC button in the toolbar located at the bottom of the video viewer, and select “English CC”. You may be able to watch CONFLICT on your TV, depending on your specific equipment. Here’s a web page from “wikiHow” with a variety of articles that may help.         

MORE ABOUT THE PLAY:
It’s the Roaring 20’s, London. Lady Dare Bellingdon has everything she could want, yet she craves something more. Dare’s man, Sir Major Ronald Clive, is standing for Parliament with the backing of Dare’s father. Clive is a Conservative, of course, but he’s liberal enough to be sleeping with Dare, who’s daring enough to take a lover, but too restless to marry him. Clive’s opponent, Tom Smith is passionate about social justice and understands the joy of having something to believe in. Dare is “the woman between” two candidates who both want to make a better world—until politics become personal, and mudslinging threatens to soil them all.              

Tuesday, 6 pm, Oct. 27-Oct. 31, 2020

Live streamed for free

Virtual Reading of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead to Reunite Off-Broadway Cast 

The Suzan-Lori Parks play was performed at Signature Theatre in 2016.Jamar WIlliams, William DeMerrit, Mirirai Sithole, Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith, Nike Kadri, Rynaldo Piniella and Daniel J. Watts Joan Marcus

The cast of Signature Theatre’s 2016 production of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead will reunite for a free virtual reading October 27. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner and Signature Residency 1 playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, the presentation is part of SigSpace, the Off-Broadway institution’s online programming.

Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Death of the Last Black Man… stars Brittany Bellizeare, William Demeritt, Patrena Murray, Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole, David Ryan Smith, 2020 Tony nominee Daniel J. Watts, Jamar Williams, and Amelia Workman.

The performance will premiere at 6 PM ET and will be available to stream on demand through October 31 at 6 PM. Click here to RSVP and receive the link to watch. Parks, Blain-Cruz, and the cast will participate in a talkback only available immediately following the broadcast.

The Death of the Last Black Man… uses poetry, historical fiction, and biblical references to challenge deep-seated archetypes of the Black experience through the life and repeated death of the last Black man in the world.

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

ON LINE:

Race by David Mamet

“Mamet’s gripping play argues, everything in America—and this play throws sex, rape, the law, employment and relationships into its 90 minutes—is still about race.” – Chicago Tribune
RACE, by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet, tackles America’s most controversial topic in this provocative play. A potent dramatic cocktail of sex, guilt and legal maneuvering, Race concerns three lawyers (Ed O’Neill, David Alan Grier and Alicia Stith) defending a wealthy white executive (Richard Thomas) charged with raping a black woman. David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas return to the roles they created during the play’s hit run on Broadway. Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad directs.

Friday, Oct. 30, 2020.

CIUT Friday Morning,  89.5 fm. I’m interviewing Nina Lee Aquino, the Artistic Director of Factory Theatre on her 20-21 season of plays for the theatre.

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FACTORY ANNOUNCES 2020-2021 SEASON   THE SATELLITE SEASON: CANADIAN STORIES IN ORBIT   FEATURING SIX WORLD PREMIERES AND ONE REIMAGINED CANADIAN CLASSIC, FACTORY PRESENTS AN ENTIRELY DIGITAL SEASON, FREE OF CHARGE  TO AUDIENCES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND BEYOND.   TORONTO – (September 17, 2020) –

 FACTORY THEATRE, Toronto’s vibrant centre of cutting-edge Canadian theatre, has just announced its 2020-2021 Season, THE SATELLITE SEASON: CANADIAN STORIES IN ORBIT. Proudly presented by Artistic Director Nina Lee Aquino and Managing Director Jonathan Heppner, FACTORY will have a full season of new and reimagined works that will continue to support Canadian artists across the country. In addition, admission for this season will be entirely free of charge, thanks to the support of the TD Bank Group.  

20/21 SEASON SHOWS: FACTORY kicks off the Satellite Season in November with a commissioned world premiere of   an act of faith by David Yee and directed by Nina Lee Aquino. World Premiere November 19 – 28, 2020. Streamed live for 6 performances from the Factory Theatre Rehearsal Hall.

A solo piece specifically designed to be presented online, Yee brings his trademark command of language and form to a theatrical experience that meets our current moment. Presented live for 6 performances, an act of faith is an intimate work of live digital performance from one of Canada’s most significant playwrights. David Yee is a mixed race actor and playwright, born and raised in Toronto. He is the co-founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Theatre Company, Canada’s premiere professional Asian Canadian theatre company. A Dora Mavor Moore Award nominated actor and playwright, his work has been produced internationally and at home, including the World Premiere of acquiesce which debuted on the Factory stage in 2016. He is a two-time Governor General’s Literary Award nominee for his plays lady in the red dress and carried away on the crest of a wave, which won the award in 2015 along with the Carol Bolt Award in 2013.


FACTORY begins the new year with the launch of a new audio series YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE, 5 World Premiers, to be released as a pre-recorded podcast over the course of five weeks beginning March 2021.

For many of us, the pandemic has altered our understanding of place and our relationship to the city. These five micro-commissions will offer fresh perspectives on Toronto’s many neighbourhoods, forgotten landscapes, and help see the land on which we live and work anew. Vivid audio experiences from five of our country’s most creative minds, audiences can listen to them from the comfort of their own rooms or journey on an urban exploration of their own.
   
THROUGH THE EYES  by Don Druick and directed by ahdri zhina mandiela April 29 – May 8, 2021 Streamed live for 6 performances from the Factory Studio Theatre.

FACTORY will close the Satellite Season with a radical new interpretation of Don Druick‘s critically acclaimed tour de force solo show, THROUGH THE EYES, directed by ahdri zhina mandiela. Produced  in the Factory Studio, this production will be live streamed for 6 nights to audiences at home.

THROUGH THE EYES is a play about seeing: about new ways of looking at the world, about how we tell stories, and how we see our places within them. Don Druick is a distinguished playwright and baroque flautist. His plays and translations have been produced on stage and radio throughout Canada, and in Europe, Japan, and the USA. Previous works include Recipe for Murder (CBC), The Frozen Deep, Tulip (Nightswimming Theatre), and Lizzie Stratas (Grand Theatre). His award-winning plays Where is Kabuki? and Through the Eyes were both shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Featuring six world premieres and one reimagined Canadian classic, this entirely digital season offers uncompromising Canadian stories that embrace and reimagine how theatre is performed in the COVID-19 era.    “The world as we know it has changed. It continues to change, and theatre is no different. Although we cannot gather the way we are used to, Canadian stories are resilient and enduring. As theatre artists, we are trained to respond to challenges with opportunities, with new ways of sharing, shaping, and receiving stories. At the heart of this all-digital season is our commitment to storytelling: no matter how it’s told, a good, compelling story will always transform, heal, reconcile, illuminate.” – Nina Lee Aquino, Artistic Director.  

“This season, you may not be able to be with us in our home at Adelaide and Bathurst, but we’re making damn sure that the Factory you know and love comes to you. Whether live-streamed or podcasted, we’re preparing for this orbit around the sun and asking you to invite us into your homes to bring you the full spectrum of Canadian stories. Until we can connect again in the flesh, let us come to you. This is Factory’s Satellite Season: Canadian Stories in Orbit.” Nina Lee Aquino, Factory Artistic Director.

Registration for David Yee’s an act of faith opens on Monday October 19, 2020 – Audiences will register for performances directly on the Factory Theatre website https://www.factorytheatre.ca  Social Media Twitter: @FactoryToronto • FB: @FactoryTheatreTO • IG: @FactoryTheatre #ftSatellite Season #FactoryinOrbit  

Founded in 1970, Factory was the first theatre company in the nation to devote itself to producing 100% Canadian content. Over 50 years later, Factory continues to lead in the development and sharing of Canadian stories having produced more than 300 productions from a diverse source of Canadian playwrights and launching the careers of countless theatre professionals.

 

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Live and outdoors at 4th Line Theatre Company. The Winslow Farm, Millbrook, Ont

Bedtime Stories and Other Horrifying Tales

Written by Kim Blackwell and Lindy Finlan

Directed by Kim Blackwell

Musical director and original compositions: Justin Hiscox

Costume designed by Madison Costello

Choreographer, Madison Sherwood

Lighting designed by Esther Vincent

Cast: Rebecca Auerbach

Rylee Dixon

Mark Hiscox

Skyleigh Hurd

Soleil Hurd

Tom Keat

Emma Khaimovich

Lev Khaimovich

Caiomhe MacQuarrie

Dierbhile MacQuarrie

Riordan MacQuarrie

Saoirse MacQuarrie

Siobhan MacQuarrie

Jack Nicholsen

Tristan Peirce

Kelsey Powell

Lucas Pronk

Madison Sheward

Riley Tutert

Robert Winslow

A wild adventure for both cast and audience as the mysteries of the story unfold in the dark in the fields of the Winslow Farm, the home of 4th Line Theatre.

The Story.  The action takes place over one night in late fall of 1835 in the Deyell home and at various locations in and around Millbrook, Ont.

Margaret Dyell (Rebecca Auerbach) and her husband John (Jack Nicholsen) are arguing. John finds some love letters Margaret received from her cousin and thinks Margaret is being untrue. Margaret is pregnant and John doesn’t believe the unborn baby is his but Margaret’s cousin. Margaret assures John that the baby is his. In a rage John throws Margaret out of the house and into the dark night.

Samuel (Lev Khaimovich) their young son, rushes out into the dark to try and find his mother. When his courage falters  he hears a deep voice in the dark who tells him to be brave. (Who belongs to that voice is a rather inspired creation of the writers, Kim Blackwell and Lindy Finlan). There are spirits who bedevil Samuel and two friends who are helping him. There are subplots involving other intrigues. Samuel’s sister Maggie (Madison Sheward) wants to run off with her boyfriend Paddy (Tristan Peirce). She knows her father, an Irish Protestant, would not approve of Paddy who is an Irish Catholic. There is a bloody apparition named appropriately enough, “Bloody Mary” who has her own secret.  Bedtime Stories and Other Horrifying Tales is a perfect story for Halloween.

The Production. Eighty theater-hungry-souls turned out with me for the opening performance of Bedtime Stories and Other Horrifying Tales. We all wore masks and were initially seated in socially distanced seating in the barnyard of the farm. The scenes that establish  the story begin in the barnyard and then the great farm adventure begins when we go out into the dark into the meadows and byways of the farm.

Each person is instructed to dress warmly and be aware that the show would go on rain or not. We are encouraged to bring our own flashlight—it gets pitch dark out in the meadow. But there is nothing like looking up and seeing an eery crescent moon and many shining stars.

We are led by flash-light carrying volunteers to guide the way and there are other volunteers along the sides of the paths with lights.  I must confess it is crowded with 80 people trekking on uneven paths and proper social distancing is a challenge. I did leave space between me and the people ahead.

There are several stops along the route around the farm for scenes to unfold: Samuel and his friends seeing ghost-like characters suspended in mid-air wanting them to help them get down; Margaret wandering in the dark and finding her sister-in-law Elizabeth (Riley Tutert) who is worried that her own husband might be up to no good since he’s been drinking; Maggie and Paddy meeting for a tryst only to be chased by people who don’t approve of Paddy and his family.

Each scene is announced with a bang on a cymbal or pot. Powerful flashlights stream crossing paths of light across the fields and the actors perform the scenes in the streams of light. When the scenes are finished, we are then gently guided on the next leg of the journey around the farm.

 Director Kim Blackwell has a delicious sense of how to build a scene to provide as much spookiness as possible. Noise emanates from behind bushes and no, no one wants to go in there to find out what those noises are. There are cries and screams in the dark.

Kim Blackwell and her co-writer Lindy Finlan create a tingling sense of what it’s like to be out in the dark, in unfamiliar surroundings, with things that go bump (growl, scream and moan) in the night. Spirits rise from no where with their own stories. Logic doesn’t really enter into a Halloween story. You just accept it. (However, there is a scene with a gin-drinking-haunted-clown in the meadow that completely mystified  me. But one just accepts that he’s there).

4th Line Theatre Company is noted for its original plays focusing on the stories and history of the area. In the 1800s many Irish immigrants, both Protestant and Catholic, came to the area around Caven to escape the religious violence back home and find peace. So I appreciated that Kim Blackwell and Lindy Finlan included a subplot of how that violence between the Catholics and the Protestants travelled to Canada as well. A vigilante group threatened  Paddy because he was Catholic. One of them said they came to Canada to escape religious persecution. The same could also have been said for Paddy and his family.

(This whole notion of religious persecution and animosity between the Catholics and Protestants in that area was delt with in The Cavan Blazers by Robert Winslowthat also played at 4th Line Theatre Company several years ago.)

The company of actors is a mix of professional actors and eager volunteers from the community. As Margaret, Rebecca Auerbach is intense with fear about her situation and trying to convince her husband of her loyalty and love for him. As John her husband, Jack Nicholson has that clench-jawed stubbornness of a man driven by anger and disappointment. We learn late in the play that what we thought was bedevilling him—his wife was in love with someone else—was not the case at all, but something different that seemed to just appear. Perhaps if the play is revisited John and his angst could be re-examined.

The young actors—there are many school-aged children in the cast—are committed and act with conviction. Young Lev Khaimovich plays Samuel with urgency. He is convincing as a young boy learning to have courage in the darkest of moments.  Nice work.

Comment.  Bravo to 4th Line Theatre Company for rising to the occasion and producing a bracing play in time for Halloween, done outdoors. And bravo to the eighty eager-theatre-hungry people who rose to the occasion and came out to support their theatre.

Presented by 4th Line Theatre Company.

The production runs at Winslow Farm, 4th Line Theatre Company until Oct. 30 at 7:00 pm.

www.4thlinetheatre.on.ca

Box Office: 705-932-4445 or 1-800-814-0055

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A packed week of intriguing theatre events. On-line and live!

Mon., Oct. 19, 2020 (anytime during Oct. 19)  to Nov. 1

ON LINE:

CONFLICT

From the Mint Theatre in New York City (a company focusing on rarely done, almost forgotten plays

Available for Free On-Demand
Streaming through November 1st
    Conflict is a love story set against the backdrop of a hotly contested election. Miles Malleson combines his two great passions: sex and politics. The result is a provocative romance that sizzles with both wit and ideas.

Don’t miss out! Stream Conflict byusing the password
vote!           Click here for details on How to Watch             HOW TO WATCH:  CLICK HERE be taken to the Production Archive Page for CONFLICT. Click on the first image under the Videos heading. You will be prompted to enter the password, vote! You will also be prompted to enter your name and a valid email address. Click the four arrows in the bottom right corner to watch the video full screen. For Closed Captioning, click the CC button in the toolbar located at the bottom of the video viewer, and select “English CC”. You may be able to watch CONFLICT on your TV, depending on your specific equipment. Here’s a web page from “wikiHow” with a variety of articles that may help.          MORE ABOUT THE PLAY:
It’s the Roaring 20’s, London. Lady Dare Bellingdon has everything she could want, yet she craves something more. Dare’s man, Sir Major Ronald Clive, is standing for Parliament with the backing of Dare’s father. Clive is a Conservative, of course, but he’s liberal enough to be sleeping with Dare, who’s daring enough to take a lover, but too restless to marry him. Clive’s opponent, Tom Smith is passionate about social justice and understands the joy of having something to believe in. Dare is “the woman between” two candidates who both want to make a better world—until politics become personal, and mudslinging threatens to soil them all.              

Mon. Oct. 19, 2020. 7:30 pm

KEENE

On Line:

Did you love American Moor from Red Bull Theatre?  Then you might want to check out KEENE.  And yes, Paul Gross, is OUR Paul Gross who is involved in the reading as is Sara Topham.

A Benefit Reading
KEENE
By Anchuli Felicia King
Directed by Ethan McSweeny
Presented in association with American Shakespeare Center
This Monday, October 19, 2020
7:30 PM EDT | LIVESTREAM
It’s love at first sight for Kai, a Japanese musicologist, when she spies Tyler, the only student of color in his PhD cohort, at a Shakespeare conference. Each night, while Tyler dreams he is the subject of his thesis: Ira Aldridge, the first black man to play Othello, Kai dreams of Tyler. As dreams start to merge with reality, Tyler and Kai are brought closer together. Yet Tyler, like Ira before him, can not perceive the inevitable betrayal of his closest ally. The livestream benefit reading will feature Grantham Coleman, Paul Gross, Carol Halstead, John Harrell, Chris Johnston, Sam Lilja, Amelia Pedlow, Sam Saint Ours, Sarah Suzuki, and Sara Topham.
GET FREE TICKETS
“I wrote Keene as a submission to American Shakespeare Center’s New Contemporaries prize. The prize invites playwrights to write a response play to one of Shakespeare’s works, with his original staging conditions in mind. I felt compelled to respond to Othello because I had such complicated feelings about the play; I found the text and its performance history to be both profoundly rich and deeply fraught. My entry point to Othello’s problematic legacy was to begin researching the life of Ira Aldridge, one of the first black actors to play Othello. The more I read about Aldridge’s career, the more parallels I began to identify between his struggles and modern Shakespearean scholarship, as contemporary academics of color attempted to reclaim a discourse that had historically vilified and excluded them.” KEEP READING
This program is part of OTHELLO 2020, a multi-part online initiative to provide an engaging and educational experience for all who are interested in Shakespeare’s Othello and its relationship to the world in which we live today. The benefit series continues through October 28. 

Tues. Oct. 20-30, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Bedtime Stories and other Terrifying Tales

Live in the fields and meadows of 4th Line Theatre:

https://www.4thlinetheatre.on.ca

Ten-year-old Samuel Deyell goes out into the dark night in search of his missing mother.

NOTE: This production travels up and down dark paths and over uneven terrain of the Winslow Farm (home of 4th Line Theatre) for approximately 1 km. Trail difficulty level: moderate to high. 

4th Line asks each patron to dress for the weather, wear appropriate, sturdy footwear and bring a flashlight to the performance. Masks and social distancing are required.  The performances will run rain, snow or shine. 

*Not suitable for people with mobility or health issues. Contains frightening scenes and mature content. PG. 
 

Wed. Oct. 21 7:00 pm

At the Beginning of Time.

Streaming live from Montreal on Centaur Theatre’s website:


New Work @ Centaur Opens With Latest Steve Galluccio Play 

Free Event
Kicking off the first event under our New Work @ Centaur banner, fans of Mambo Italiano and The St. Leonard Chronicles will be elated to know that it will be the first public reading of Steve Galluccio’s newest play, At the Beginning of Time, streaming live on Centaur’s website at 7PM,  Wednesday, October 21th.
 
Dramaturged by the Shaw Festival’s former Artistic Director, Jackie Maxwell, who directed last season’s multi-META-nominated Paradise Lost, Quebec’s elder and health care systems are in the spotlight in this very personal story about losing a spouse to Alzheimer’s in the midst of a pandemic, told with Steve’s characteristic blend of heartache and hilarity.
 
Click HERE to learn more about this highly anticipated event from one of Centaur’s most beloved playwrights.  If you’re not able to join us live, the performance will remain on our website until October 28.   Wed. Oct. 21 + other dates: 8:00 pm.

HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING.

MULTIPLE DATES

Jeremy O. Harris presents HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING Live

Free

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Event Information

a LIVE theatrical event

About this Event

Jeremy O. Harris Presents

the Playwrights Horizons production of

Will Arbery’s Pulitzer Prize Finalist

HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING

Directed by Danya Taymor

Performed LIVE by the original cast: Zoë Winters, Julia McDermott, John Zdrojeski, Jeb Kreager and Michele Pawk

Designed by: Isabella Byrd, Justin Ellington and Sarafina Bush

Showtimes: October 21st @ 8pm, October 22nd @ 4pm, October 23rd @ 8pm, October 24th @ 2pm + 8pm

—–

Winner of ….

2020 Obie Awards for Creative Ensemble + Playwriting

Three Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Play

New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play

New York Times “Best Theater of 2019”

——–

It’s nearing midnight in Wyoming, where four young conservatives have gathered at a backyard after-party. They’ve returned home to toast their mentor Gina, newly inducted as president of a tiny Catholic college. But as their reunion spirals into spiritual chaos and clashing generational politics, it becomes less a celebration than a vicious fight to be understood. On a chilly night in the middle of America, Will Arbery’s haunting play offers grace and disarming clarity, speaking to the heart of a country at war with itself.

——-

ALL TICKETS FREE

All donations will be distributed to NYC-based theater artists in need

Stage Manager: Ryan Kane

Assistant Director: Joan Sergay

Original Scenic Design: Laura Jellinek

Dramaturgy: Ashley Chang

Line Producer: Danya Taymor

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Artwork: Jeff Rogers

Thur. Oct. 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Skeleton Crew

Atlantic Theater Company, New York City.

www.atlantictheatre.org

Streaming:

Reunion Reading Series: Skeleton Crew

by Dominique Morisseau Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Atlantic Theater Company

From the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City

Fri. Oct. 23, 2020 7:30 pm

CONTRACTIONS by Mike  Bartlett

Streaming from Studio 180 www.studio180theatre.com

Contractions by Mike Bartlett
AN ONLINE PRESENTATION
Friday, October 23 at 7:30 PM

Directed by Sabryn Rock
Starring Virgilia Griffith &
Ordena Stephens-Thompson
Emma’s been seeing her coworker Darren. She thinks she’s in love. Her boss thinks she’s in breach of contract. In a series of cordial but increasingly tense conversations, the two dissect the differences between “sexual” and “romantic,” negotiate the length of Emma’s interoffice relationship, and face the consequences of shrinking privacy and binding contracts.

Following the play, join the cast and Director of Youth and Community Engagement, Jessica Greenberg, for a unique interactive post-show experience in which audience members will share their responses; examine the themes, characters and big questions of the play; and participate in break-out group discussions. 
RESERVE YOUR FREE SPOT
Virgilia Griffith has worked with Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, Crow’s Theatre and Obsidian Theatre.  Winner of the Meta Emerging Artist Award for Gas Girls. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance for Harlem Duet. She was also a Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Outstanding Performance in the Independent Division for Honesty directed by Jordan Tannahill and Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land)
Ordena Stephens-Thompson has worked with The Grand Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Young People’s Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre and Factory Theatre. Selected film and TV credits include: Umbrella Academy, The Handmaid’s Tale, Designated Survivor, da kink in my hair, Rookie Blue, Committed and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. Ordena is grateful for the opportunity to continue to pursue her passion and for the continued support of her family.
Sabryn Rock is an actor, singer, arts educator and director. She directed for the Summerworks Festival, Shakespeare in Action and Musical Stage Company’s Banks Prize Cabaret. She also has assisted on productions such as Intimate Apparel (Obsidian), The Wizard of Oz (YPT) and Next to Normal (MSC/Mirvish). She is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, The Birmingham Conservatory at Stratford and the Canadian Film Centre.

Sat. Oct. 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm

The School for Wives

Live Streaming:

https://www.eventbrite.com/signin/?referrer=%2Fmytickets%2F1469906151%2F%3Futm_campaign%3Dorder_confirm%26utm_medium%3Demail%26ref%3Deemailordconf%26utm_source%3Deventbrite%26utm_term%3Dviewmanageordersummary

Tony Award–winner Tonya Pinkins stars in the beloved comedy about gender dynamics.

About this Event

Free Virtual Performance + Q&A

The School For Wives

by Molière in the Park

Saturday, October 24 at 2 & 7pm ET

In English

Closed captioning in English & French

Livestream link will be sent via email on the day of the event

Molière in the Park and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), after the success of virtual productions of The Misanthrope and Tartuffe, co-present a radically inventive and refreshing take on the classic play, The School For Wives.

At its core, Molière’s biting 17th-century satire about a privileged and misguided man so intimidated by women that he grooms his own ward for marriage, is about gender power dynamics. In this contemporary retelling, Tony Award–winner Tonya Pinkins (Jelly’s Last Jam, Caroline, or Change) stars as the patriarch Arnolphe, obsessed with keeping 17-year-old Agnès ignorant so that she will remain faithful to him.

Director Lucie Tiberghien examines this classic tale through the lens of an all-woman cast to shine a light on the ultimate absurdity of similar American systems of oppression. Like Agnès, no one’s humanity can be snuffed out.

Performance: 90 minutes

Q&A: 20 minutes

Starring Tonya Pinkins​, Tony Award-winner for Jelly’s Last Jam, writer-director of the upcoming socio-political horror film Red Pill, and host of the podcast You Can’t Say That on BPN.fm/ycst

Co-starring Mirirai Sithole, Kaliswa Brewster, Cristina Pitter, Tamara Sevunts, Carolyn Michelle Smith, and Corey Tazmania

Translated by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur

Learn more at fiaf.org.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation when you RSVP. Your gift makes programs like these possible and sustains FIAF and Molière in the Park during these unprecedented times.

Produced by Molière in the Park. Co-presented by FIAF in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance and LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

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On Line at: www.redbulltheatre.com

Until Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:00 pm.

Written by Keith Hamilton Cobb

Directed by Kim Weild

Cast: Keith Hamilton Cobb

Josh Tyson

Ayana Workman

A stunning, poetic punch in the gut.

American Moor by Keith Hamilton Cobb is an on-line reading.

It was produced by Red Bull Theatre, an Off-Broadway company in New York, previously and now it’s being offered for free, on-line, until Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:00 pm.  

The play examines the experience and perspective of Black men in America through the metaphor of William Shakespeare’s character, Othello. It’s part of the company’s Othello 2020 season.

The play is a doozy.

Ayana Workman reads the stage directions which places the play squarely and specifically in America. “Now. Very now.” (one might also say Canada as well.)

An African-American actor named Keith is auditioning for the lead in an American production of Shakespeare’s Othello. Keith is between 45 and 55 years old. And he’s auditioning for a white director named Michael Aaron Miller, who is between 28 and 38.

You get the sense that in this case of a triple barrelled name, the playwright is creating a sense of pretention with the director. (Even though the playwright’s own name is triple barreled.) This pretention is  further established when the director says to Keith, “So, the big O!” as if playing Othello is the pinnacle of acting jobs for an African-American actor.

The play takes the form of Keith quoting speeches from Othello and other Shakespeare plays as part of his audition and to the audience for context. Keith gives the audience his background as well as asides about the director. For example, we learn that Keith was an English major in university. He segued into acting. He says things like: “I learned I was an actor. I wasn’t taught it,”  As if he learned certain things by instinct rather than being taught it. He learned he had an affinity for Shakespeare and was buoyed by what he saw as huge choices.

We learn early on that Keith was confined by a director’s view of him. When he was a young actor in a class he was asked by a director what speech he wanted to work on. Keith said Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When the director said that was not suitable Keith suggested Hamlet. The director said that Keith did not have enough experience (life experience?) for Hamlet.  The director thought that perhaps Aron in Titus Andronicus  would be a better choice—Aron was black and better suited to Keith who was black. Keith noted he was a villain. The teacher suggested Morocco in The Merchant of Venice and didn’t think Morocco was a villain (Oh yeah? Aren’t we glad Portia didn’t have to find out). So we get a good picture of what Keith had to contend with:  insensitive white directors who confined him only to parts for Black characters.   

Keith commented on directors who think they are talking for Shakespeare when they offer to explain what Shakespeare meant by a line or thought.

We soon get the measure of the character of Michael Aaron Miller, the director of this production of Othello. When Keith enters the audition room and greets the director, Michael Aaron Miller breezes by the greeting and immediately remarks at how tall Keith is:  “How tall are you?” It was jokey and good natured. But not to Keith.  And of course Michael Aaron Miller has a concept for the play and his focus is on “irrational jealousy”.  Miller thought of the jealous woman who drove across the country (wearing an adult diaper so she wouldn’t have to stop) to confront her husband’s lover and the example of irrational jealousy and applied it to Othello.  

We hear Keith in an aside to the camera trying to calm himself and not explode. The director says, “Is there anything I can make clear to you before we start?” We know that this young whippersnapper of a director falls into the cliché of the directors that Keith has had to deal with, who is going to tell him what the play Othello is all about. This is not just an aspect of this play.

It’s a reflection of the world of the Black actor or BIPOC actors.  A well-intentioned but tone-deaf, insensitive director is going to tell them the meaning of something they already know in their bones.

I think playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb has written an exquisitely poetic, bristling play specifically about a black actor dealing with a blinkered white director. But from a universal perspective it’s about a Black person who has to contend with white privilege and he’s had it up to here with dealing with it.   It’s Keith Hamilton Cobb’s personal eruption of what a Black person or person of colour has to deal with when they are not seen or heard.

Isn’t that what we heard with the various protests, with Black Lives Matter and the eruption of rage and being overlooked.

“See me” was repeated often.

“Hear me” was repeated often.

The character of Keith has a stunning speech which shows the eloquence and punch of Keith Hamilton Cobb’s writing:

“I’m giving you pearls here, if you could hear me. If you could see me I might save you from another cookie cutter Othello you’re ready to run off half-cooked and hand the public each time you and every other would-be saviour of the American Theatre perennially picks up this play like it needs you. Like it needs your self-concerned conceptualizing and your venerated Eurocentric scholarship. Like it needs your huge false set of balls that this American culture gave you that makes you think that it’s acceptable for you to sit there on your little, narrow privileged lily-white MFA ass and judge a Black man on what a Black man is supposed to be.”

This is wonderful, angry, eye-opening dialogue in a play that is blazing with insight and rage.  Is it the character’s rage? The playwright’s? Both?  

Josh Tyson plays Michael Aaron Miller with boyish enthusiasm. Ayana Workman reads the stage directions and listens and reacts to Cobb’s rage with understated irony. She knows what he’s talking about.  Keith Hamilton Cobb has the lion’s share of the play—it often seems like a solo part–and he plays it with nuance, anger and grace.

He has things to say about being Black, race politics and Othello that are important to hear.

It behooves us to listen.

American Moor is live streamed for free until tonight  (Oct. 16) at  7:00 pm on the Red Bull Theatre website. https://www.redbulltheater.com

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Here is the press information on Obsidian Theatre Company’s 2021 season.

This is the first season of Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. She has exploded out of the gate with this impressive first season of works by 21 strong voices.

For immediate release: October 15, 2020 View this email in your browser

OBSIDIAN THEATRE ANNOUNCES FIRST MAJOR PROJECT UNDER NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MUMBI TINDYEBWA OTU 

21 playwrights, 21 directors, 21 actors
21 visions of the future of Blackness
  Monodramas written by Peace Akintade, Keshia Cheesman, Lisa Codrington, Miali-Elise Coley-Sudlovenick, K.P. Dennis, Cheryl Foggo, Shauntay Grant, Lawrence Hill, Kaie Kellough, Stephie Mazunya, Tawiah Ben M’Carthy, Motion, Omari Newton, Amanda Parris, Joseph Jomo Pierre, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Jacob Sampson, Djanet Sears, Luke Reece, Cherissa Richards, and Syrus Marcus Ware.

Toronto ON – In the wake of a historic 2019-2020 season which saw the company produce three acclaimed productions, win the Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Passover), two Dora Awards (Caroline, Or Change) and four Toronto Theatre Critics Awards (Caroline, Or Change and Pass Over), as well as saying goodbye to long-time Artistic Director Philip Akin and welcoming incoming Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, Obsidian Theatre is pleased to unveil the first programming to be developed under Tindyebwa Otu’s leadership and to offer a window into the company’s plans for the future. At a unique moment in history, Black stories are needed more than ever.  The necessity for the Black community to heal, to connect and to re-envision a future outside of current systems is raw, real, and fully felt.  As the company enters its 21st year of operations, in February 2021, during Black History Month, Obsidian Theatre will premiere 21 BLACK FUTURES. An anthology of 21 filmed monodramas, commissioned from 21 multigenerational Black playwrights across the country, directed by 21 Black directors and performed by 21 Black actors. Premiering digitally, 21 BLACK FUTURES will respond to the question, “What is the future of Blackness?” The 21 playwrights commissioned under the project are Peace Akintade (Saskatchewan), Keshia Cheesman (Calgary), Lisa Codrington (Toronto), Miali-Elise Coley-Sudlovenick (Nunavut), K.P. Dennis (Victoria), Cheryl Fogo (Calgary), Shauntay Grant (Halifax), Lawrence Hill (Hamilton), Kaie Kellough (Montreal), Stephie Mazunya (Montreal), Tawiah Ben M’Carthy (Toronto), Motion (Toronto), Omari Newton (Vancouver), Amanda Parris (Toronto), Joseph Jomo Pierre (Toronto), Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Hamilton), Jacob Sampson (Halifax), Djanet Sears (Toronto), Luke Reece (Toronto), Cherissa Richards (Manitoba), and Syrus Marcus Ware (Toronto). 

“21 BLACK FUTURES encapsulates a lot of what I hope to develop and grow in this next phase of Obsidian Theatre,” says Tindyebwa Otu. “Under the previous visionary leadership of Alison Sealy-Smith and Philip Akin, Obsidian has a long-standing tradition of introducing new Black artists into the ecology. This project takes that tradition to a new level, making a large gesture that speaks to the work I want to continue to do with the company.  As we continue forward, I want to reach out and find more new Black voices nationally, give them the support they need to grow and a wide-reaching platform on which they can be seen. I also want to create opportunities to experiment with content and form and to consider the possibility of a Black aesthetic.” “With this one project we will be spotlighting the work of 63 Black artists from across this country – some of whom are part of Obsidian’s legacy and many who are part of our future. What I believe we will find within that wide and multi-generational range of artists is the beginning of an exploration into the diversity of the contemporary Black voice.  It allows us to really lean into Black identity and explore what that means in the future. I hope what naturally flows from this project and this cultural moment is that we can continue to grow Obsidian’s capacity as an organization and flood the country with thriving Black theatre artists as diverse as our  community is today.

21 BLACK FUTURES is a project born of the current moment. Announced as the incoming Artistic Director for Obsidian in January of 2020, by the time Tindyebwa Otu began her tenure at the beginning of July, the coronavirus pandemic had effectively cancelled all forthcoming live theatre productions and a global outcry against anti-Black racism was at the forefront of cultural and political discussions. “I felt an urgent need to respond to the moment we’re in and to create an opportunity for Black artists to respond.” says Tindyebwa Otu. Like many theatre companies, Obsidian Theatre had to postpone the final production of their 2019-2020 season – Jay Northcott directing Christina Anderson’s Blacktop Sky for the second installment of their Darktown Initiative.  The company had also announced a season launching co-production with Canadian Stage of the 2019 Pulitzer prize-winning drama Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury, which was to have been directed by Shaw Festival Associate Artistic Director Kimberley Rampersad – now also postponed until live performance can resume. A planned remount of School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play with Nightwood Theatre and Soulpepper Theatre has been cancelled.

In August the company co-produced Black Magic – A Conversation with Black Artistic Directors in Canadian Theatre, with Cahoots Theatre. Black Magic remains available for viewing online. As the pandemic continues to impact traditional theatrical production, for the next several months Obsidian will focus on the development and production of 21 BLACK FUTURES, workshopping the scripts through the fall in preparation for rehearsals and filming.  TO Live has partnered with Obsidian on this project as the venue sponsor for the filming. Additionally, Obsidian will continue development of the new Black opera Of The Sea by Kanika Ambrose and Ian Cusson, a co-commission and co-production with Tapestry Opera; new musical Dixon Road with book, music, and lyrics by Obsidian Artistic Producer Fatuma Adar, in collaboration with The Musical Stage Company; and new play Blood and Memory by Dainty Smith. Obsidian’s Playwright Unit will also  continue this season featuring writers Leighton Alexander Williams and KayGeni.  More information about 21 BLACK FUTURES including the line-up of directors, cast, and streaming platform, will be announced later this year. For more information about Obsidian Theatre, visit obsidiantheatre.com 

About Obsidian Theatre
Obsidian is Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre company. Our threefold mission is to produce plays, to develop playwrights and to train emerging theatre professionals. Obsidian is passionately dedicated to the exploration, development, and production of the Black voice. Obsidian produces plays from a world-wide canon focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the works of highly acclaimed Black playwrights. Obsidian provides artistic support, promoting the development of work by Black theatre makers and offering training opportunities through mentoring and apprenticeship programs for emerging Black artists.   Obsidian Theatre Company was born out of a passionate sense of artistic responsibility – a responsibility to bring the Black voice, in its many artistic dialects, to Canada’s cultural forefront. Obsidian encourages Black artists to expand their vision of what they perceive, create and present to a national audience. Obsidian continues to play a prominent role in Canada’s theatrical mosaic by showcasing the work of both emerging and established Black artists.   Since its inception, our development programs have led many artists to expand their professional development and create new Canadian works. Through our training programs, we produce plays, develop playwrights and train emerging theatre professionals.

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Hark folks,

I’ll be interviewing Lisa Marie DiLiberto on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING 89.5 fm on Friday, Oct. 16 from 9 am -10 am.

She is the Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, a company that focuses on theatre for young audiences. Their latest show is ERASER and it will be going into schools virtually. It’s a fascinating look at how young people are coping with the loss, death, isolation, sense of self and identity during this pandemic.

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