As the theatre world scrambles to 'do better,' it's time these Black trailblazers get their due

The last month has felt like a gruelling journey, as George Floyd's murder at the hands of police sent a ripple across the world that turned into a tidal wave. Outside of the Black community, I have never in my lifetime seen this kind of response to the unjust killing of a Black person or to anti-Black racism. Every industry began to scramble to make statements and respond to the protests and outpouring of awareness. The Canadian art world also joined in, posting statements and Black squares — some less successfully than others.

I will admit, as I watched Canadian theatres display their contrition attached with pictures of Black actors from past productions, I was incredulous. Then I got angry and wanted people to know the truth.

As the artistic producer at Obsidian Theatre from 2010 to 2016 (and a longtime employee before then), I have seen firsthand how much work Black theatre artists have done — and how little credit they have gotten for it. During my time there, I watched co-founder and outgoing artistic director Philip Akin take phone call after phone call from Black artists looking for help navigating the racism they faced inside these companies. Akin, who will be stepping down as artistic director after nearly 15 years on June 30th, did not mince words when it came time for him to pen Obsidian's statement. Read More

Kaleb Alexander and Mazin Elsadig in Obsidian Theatre's 2019 production of Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu, directed by Philip Akin. (Cesar Ghisilieri).

Source: CBC Arts

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