Billing itself as Canada’s oldest Black theatre company, Black Theatre Workshop will launch its 50th anniversary season online on January 15, 2021 at 3pm ET. It starts with the annual Discovery Series which features a reading of a new work in development.
This year’s play is Sanctuary by Lydie Dubuisson, a playwright and director who has just been appointed the company’s artistic associate. Dubuisson participated in the company’s mentorship program with a promising career in both English and French theatre. While the company’s productions are mostly in English, it is committed to expanding its programming to offer performances in French which is one of Canada’s official languages, along with English.
Her play Sanctuary is billed as “a feminist conversation between a teenage girl and her sister, her godmother, her best friend, her pastor and God as she takes refuge in the sanctuary of her church while searching for answers about her destiny.” The play seeks to create a moment of reflection on the role of women and continuity and actors switch between English and Haitian Creole. It will be available on the company’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
Gala, poetry event will be online
Black Theatre Workshop will also present an online Poetry Jam soon. This event will feature poets performing works based on a chosen theme. After the presentation, the audience will have a chance to speak with the artists in a virtual discussion and Q & A session.
Because of the pandemic, the company’s 35th annual gala will be held online as well. The gala honours Black Canadians who have made significant contributions to performing arts. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award will be given to Haitian dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director Eddy Toussaint. A second award plus two for youth will also be presented. The event will be streamed live on the Black Theatre Workshop Facebook page on January 30, 2021 at 7pm ET. There will be live performances including one by renowned singer Ranee Lee.
Black Theatre Workshop is one of 11 Canadian companies chosen by the National Arts Centre to bring performance to live audiences online. Because the company is located in Montreal and the city has a high incidence of COVID-19, its production which had been scheduled for October 2020 has been postponed for a few months. The precise date of it presentation has yet to be determined.
Black Theatre Workshop offers a retrospective video for its 50th anniversary.