Companies (Currently Active)
Rue Jeanne-Mance, Suite 432
QC H2X 2K5
514-932-1104 ext. 225
The Black Theatre Workshop was born of the Trinidad and Tobago Association
and the work of Victor Phillips. Founded in 1971 in Montréal after an
influx of Caribbean immigration, the BTW worked to counter negative
perceptions about Caribbean culture. It was and remains especially interested
in developing original plays that reflect Black Canadians’ experiences.
Its premiere production was How Now Black Man by Montréal writer
Loris Elliot in 1968. Since then, the company has changed with the diversity
of the Caribbean population in Montréal and has a production history
that includes new and old works by African, American, Caribbean, and
Canadian playwrights. BTW was affiliated with Montréal’s English-language
Centaur Theatre from 1976 to 1985, and used its theatre space. The company
began a school touring company in the early eighties, and since the
mid-eighties has held an awards ceremony to celebrate the artistic contributions
and achievements of individual Black community members. Since its conception,
the Workshop has been the artistic home for Errol Slue, Jeff Henry,
Walter Borden, Winston Sutton, Lorena Gale, Marvin Ishmael, Dwight Bacquie,
and George E. Boyd, and has aided in the development of hundreds of
playwrights and theatre artists across Canada.
In the late sixties, the company produced Dance Bongo by Errol
Hill, The Sea at Dauphin by Derek Walcott, and How Now Black
Man by Loris Elliot. In the early seventies, the group produced
Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain. In the mid-seventies, BTW
produced plays by Wole Soyinka, Yvonne Greer, Eric Roach, Clarence Bayne
(The Black Experience), Joseph A. Walker (The River Niger),
David Westheimer (My Sweet Charlie), David Edgecomb (For Better
For Worse and Sonuvabitch), Errol Sitahal (Sea Shango),
as well as Jean Genet's The Blacks (1976), Edgecomb's Strong
Currents (1976), Elliot's A Li’lle Bit O'Somet'in (1978),
and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1979). In the eighties,
their productions included Hector Bunyon's Prodigals in a Promised
Land (1982), Clarence Bayne and Dwight Blackie’s Martin Luther
Who (1983), Ntozake Shange's for colored girls who have considered
suicide, when the rainbow is enuf (1984/5), James Weldon Johnson's
God's Trombones (1986), George C. Wolfe's The Coloured Museum
(1987/8), and Dwight Bacquie’s Marvin: Dream of a Lifetime (1988).
The nineties saw a co-production of Mustapha Matura’s Playboy of
the West Indies (1993), Richardo Keens-Douglas's children's play
The Nutmeg Princess (1994), Athol Fugard’s My Children, My
Africa (1998/9), Andrew Moodie’s Riot (1998/9), and Dennis
Foon’s New Canadian Kid (1998/9).
A 1999 $100,000 Millenium Fund Grant from the Canada Council renewed
the financially strained company, and enabled it to participate in the
Anthony Sherwood production of Rockin' in Paradise. The grant
also helped the company revitalize the Young Performer's Initiative,
an intensive drama training program for Black youth.
Their recent productions include: · The Crossroad/Le Carrefour
by Kossi Efoui (2000) · Afrika Solo by Djanet Sears (2002, reprised
as a school tour in 2006) · Wade in the Water by George Elroy
Boyd (2004) · Blacks Don’t Bowl by Vadney Haynes (2005/06) ·
The Lady Smith by Andrew Moodie (2006).
Obsidian Theatre Company
50 Carroll St., Suite 215
The OTC was founded by Awaovieyi Agie, Ardon Bess, David Collins, Roy
Lewis, Yanna McIntosh, Diane Roberts, Kim Roberts, Sandi Ross, Djanet
Sears, Satori Shakoor, Tricia Williams, Alison Sealy-Smith, and artistic
director Philip Akin in 1999. The company focuses primarily on the works
of playwrights of African descent, and works to promote African Canadian
artists and to provide mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities.
Their production history includes: · The Adventures of a Black Girl
in Search of God by Djanet Sears (2001/02, in association with Harbourfront
Centre) · The Piano Lesson by August Wilson (2002/03, in association
with Harbourfront Centre) · Consecrated Ground by George Elroy
Boyd (2003/04, in association with Factory Theatre) · The Polished
Hoe by Austin Clarke (2006/07) · Othello by William Shakespeare
(2007) - Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith (2009).
We Are One Theatre Productions
940 Landsdowne Ave.,
Artistic director Marvin Ishmael founded We Are One in 1986 with a mandate
to develop theatre that reflects Caribbean Canadian culture, traditions,
and experience. It has a reputation for incorporating steel band and
calypso into its productions, and for writing and producing plays for
young audiences. While the company produces many of Ishmael’s own plays,
such as Comedy and Culture and Duppy in the House, it
has also produced Kate Osborne’s Wipe That Smile, and Mustapha
Matura’s Playboy of the West Indies. The company has also been
critical in the development of Caribbean Canadian theatre, and has been
important in the careers of actor/story-teller Richardo Keens-Douglas
and actor/director Amah Harris and her Theatre in the Rough company.
Artistic director Colin Taylor founded Theatre Wum to explore the African
diaspora. The company mounted Jeff Stetson’s The Meeting (1991),
Radiance of the King (1991), and Susan Lori Parks’ The Imperceptible
Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1992). Colin Taylor won the John
Hirsch Award for Directing in 1993, and in 1994 he was appointed Artistic
Associate at Theatre Passe Muraille. He has also directed with the Tarragon
Theatre, the Great Canadian Theatre Company and Alberta Theatre Projects.
Voices Black Theatre Ensemble
P.O. Box 23106 RPO
Dartmouth NS B3A 4S9
Artistic director: David Woods
Sepia Players / Black Theatre West
Sepia Players was founded in Vancouver in 1969 and renamed Black Theatre
West in 1982.
703-250 Consumers Road
Artistic Producer: Modupe Olaogun
Founded in 1998, AfriCan Theatre Ensemble aims to spread awareness about
African drama, including the traditions of legend, history, mythology,
and idiom. AfriCan Theatre Ensemble recognizes the power of live art
to inspire and renew the human spirit and to forge human relationships
across cultures, creeds, ethnicities, ideologies, genders, and social
Artscape Wychwood Barns Studio/Office
601 Christie St, Suite 251
Toronto, ON, Canada
Founded in 1991 by ahdri zhina mandiela, b current is a dub-based performance
organization that includes in its productions poetry, music, dance,
film, and plays. A non-profit organization, the company works to promote
and support the work that emerges from the Black diapora. They run the
rps festival each spring, which consists of dub performances at venues
across Toronto, and the group runs various training programs for youth.
Their production history includes: · dark diaspora . . . in dub
by Ahdri Zhina Mandiela (1992) · Caribbean Cindy by Richardo
Keens-Douglas (in association with Young People’s Theatre) · Naga
Mandala (1996, in association with Hansraj Dramatic Arts @ Tarragon
Theatre) · Harriet’s Daughter by M. NourbeSe Philip (2001) ·
After All by Carol Anderson (2004) · Fallen Angel and the
Devil Concubine (2006, in association with Theatre Archipelago)
· Wise Woman of Abyssinia by Rebecca Fisseha (2007)
Negro Theatre Guild
The Negro Theatre Guild opened in Montréal in
1942 with Marc Connolly's The Green Pastures, and a 1949 production
of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones. In the 1960s, the company
began selecting plays that reflected the interests of immigrants from
Africa and the Caribbean. The Negro Theatre Guild did not survive the
emergence of the Black Theatre Workshop in the 1960s or the rise of
Revue Theatre (which produced a large number of African American plays).
Black Theatre Canada was
founded in Toronto in 1973 by Vera Cudjoe, in order to share Black culture
with the rest of the community. In addition to staging productions,
BTC was very interested in cultural awareness projects, toured schools
extensively in the Toronto area, and put on workshops to train young
Black people in theatre arts. Because of financial difficulties, the
company suspended operation in 1988. Their first full production was
Roderick Walcott's Malfinis in 1974. They also presented a number
of new works, among them Trevor Rhone's first Canadian production, Story
Oh (1977). Their other productions include Freedom Ways by
Amah Harris (1973), School's Out by Trevor Rhone, Bathurst
Street by Bobby Gishay, A Few Things About Us compiled by
Daniel Caudeiron (1977), Holes by Peter Robinson (1978), Dem
Two in Canada by Peter Robinson (1979), More About Me by
Daniel Caudeiron (1979), Rum and Coca Cola by Mustapha Matura
(1981), One More Stop on the Freedom Train by Leon Bibb (1984;
1985), and Under Exposure by Linda Evans (1986).
Theatre Fountainhead was
established in 1974 by Jeff Henry, a supporter and collaborator of Vera
Cudjoe(founder of BTC). His aim was to develop and produce the works
of Black playwrights, and to employ Black actors, directors and designers.
However, he also mounted productions of a wide range of plays, including
Samuel Beckett, in order to aid the range and skill development of Black
theatre professionals. The company closed in 1990 due to financial strain.
Among the playwrights staged at Theatre Fountainhead were Wole Soyinka,
Jeff Henry, and Linda Ghan. They also produced Richardo Keens-Douglas'
musical The Obeah Man in 1985, which won the writer a Dora nomination
for his lead performance. In 1982, Hector Bunyan's Prodigals in a
Promised Land, originally staged at Montréal's Black Theatre Workshop,
was produced in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille. Their productions
include The Swamp Dwellers by Wole Soyinka (1975), Africa
in the Caribbean by Jeff Henry (1976), Coldsnap by Linda
Ghan (1983), The Blood Knot by Athol Fugard (1986), See Skengo
by Errol Sitahel, and Sus by Barrie Keefe.
Winnipeg c. 1980s
Kwacha (meaning "Dawn
of a New Day" in Zambian) was founded by Walter Borden in the early
1980s in Nova Scotia. Dissolved in the 1990s.
African Canadian Theatre
The “Black Canadian Theatre” entry provides an historical overview of
African Canadian drama from the 19th century to the 1990s. There are
also listings for many theatre companies and individuals, and the website
itself seeks to compile information on theatre in Canada from 1770 to
Comprehensive site, which includes databases of criticism and reviews,
playbills, research, chronologies, bibliographies, etc. The site contains
a lot of information about the 19th century as well. ACTS is funded
in part by SSHRC grants and is academically refereed.
Like the Canadian Encyclopedia, this is a searchable encyclopedia with
many extensive listings.
Special Issue: African Canadian Theatre Issue 118, Spring 2004.
Edited by Djanet Sears and Ric Knowles.
Issue: Black Theatre in Canada/African Canadian Theatre Issue 83, Summer
Edited by Angela Lee and Natalie Rewa.
two of the nine-volume series, Critical Perspectives on Canadian
Theatre in English.
This text includes primarily academic criticism and commentary, but
also includes Moynagh’s own history of Black Canadian theatre, as well
as further reading suggestions.
Conceived of by artistic director Djanet Sears and begun in 1997, the
AfriCanadian Playwrights Festival “is a powerful gathering of Canadian
and international theatre artists of African descent designed to celebrate,
encourage, develop, promote and present African Canadian Playwrights
and their plays.” The festival includes readings, workshops, and full
productions, as well as an academic forum for commentary on and history
of African Canadian dramatists and theatre.
“A Coat of Many Colours: The Multicultural Theatre Movement in Canada.”
Contemporary Canadian Theatre: New World Visions. Ed. Anton Wagner.
Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1985. 216-26. Print.
Theatre.” Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre. Ed. Eugene Benson
and L.W. Conolly. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989. 353-57. Print.
Stage: Canadian Theatre Review Yearbook. 1975-1977. Print.
Maureen. “African-Canadian Theatre: An Introduction.” African Canadian
Theatre. Ed. Maureen Anne Moynagh. Toronto: Playwrights Canada P,
2005. vii-xix. Print.
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. Canada on Stage: 1982-1986.
Toronto: PACT Communications Centre, 1989. Print.