CANADA’S LEADING BLACK ARTS ORGANIZATION, OBSIDIAN THEATRE, ANNOUNCES BENCHMARK 4-SHOW 23.24 SEASON
SPEAKING OF SNEAKING by daniel jelani ellis
THREE SISTERS by Inua Ellams
seven methods of killing kylie jenner by Jasmine Lee-Jones
shaniqua in abstraction by bahia watson
Toronto, October 12th, 2023 – Following a history-making 22.23 for the company that saw them co-produce hit productions of IS GOD IS and FAIRVIEW with the National Arts Centre, Canadian Stage, and Necessary Angel as well as Canada’s first all-Black Canadian opera OF THE SEA with Tapestry Opera, Obsidian Theatre is thrilled to announce their upcoming 23.24 season. The new season is distinguished by two Canadian premieres of critically acclaimed work by international Black playwrights and a World Premiere of a new work by a celebrated Black Canadian playwright and performer, in addition to the recent production that got the season underway, speaking of sneaking by daniel jelani ellis, produced by Groundwork Redux and Buddies in Bad Times in association with Obsidian. Consistent with Obsidian’s artistic focus and values, the work this season continues to shed light on the diversity of the Black experience both aesthetically and culturally.
“I am extremely excited about the eclectic mix of offerings that we have for our audiences this season. Stories that continue to speak to the richness of the Black identity.” says Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, Artistic Director at Obsidian Theatre.
Next up in the season is a benchmark production for the company, who are co-producing with Soulpepper Theatre. In late February 2024, Obsidian Theatre and Soulpepper Theatre will produce the Canadian Premiere of THREE SISTERS, an epic adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s renowned play by London-based Nigerian Poet/Playwright Inua Ellams (Barber Shop Chronicles). A powerful work about sisterhood, survival and longing, the production will be directed by Obsidian’s AD Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu.
“This adaptation by Inua Ellams is stunning,” comments Otu. “We are so used to viewing this play through a Eurocentric lens – seeing this story transported to 1960s Nigeria during the Biafran War will be unlike anything we have ever seen before on a Canadian stage.”
Otu has assembled an unparalleled all-star Black cast for the production including Akosua Amo Adem (School Girls, Le Belle Soeurs), Virgilia Griffith (Queen Goneril, our place), and Makambe K. Simamba (Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers) as the three sisters and featuring Daren Herbert, Sterling Jarvis, JD Leslie, Tawiah McCarthy, Ngabo Nabea, Tony Ofori, Oyin Olajedo, Ordena Stephens-Thompson, Amaka Umeh.
“I can’t think of an assembly of Black actors on stage together that parallels this group of artists,” adds Otu. “This is an astonishingly powerful group of artists who are the literal embodiment of Black Excellence. I am both honoured and humbled to be coming together with them to make this production, which will undoubtedly be a highlight of my career.”
In May, Obsidian will produce the Canadian Premiere of seven methods of killing kylie jenner, by the internationally acclaimed and award-winning British playwright and actor Jasmine Lee-Jones. Premiering at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2019 and receiving the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright and the Stage Debut Award for Best Writer, seven methods of killing kylie jenner became a runaway success and instant contemporary classic. Revolving around close friends Cleo and Kara who are grappling with the pervasive influence of social media and celebrity culture in their lives, this electric and provocative play explores ownership of Black bodies, cultural appropriation, social media, and female friendships. This new production will be directed by Jay Northcott and produced in association with Crow’s Theatre.
“The piece is vicious and tender in equal measure,” shares Otu. “It’s also deeply cathartic and playful in the way it looks at how young Black women live and move in between worlds, both digital and real, and speaks to the human need to be seen, loved, and accepted just as you are. Jay Northcott’s smart and deeply playful approach to theatre-making is the perfect fit for this work and I can’t wait to see what they do with it.”
Earlier in the spring, Obsidian will also partner with Crows Theatre and paul watson productions to support the World Premiere of beloved artist bahia watson’s play shaniqua in abstraction. Following her 2022 hit MASHUP PON DI ROAD, watson’s new work thoughtfully blend’s razor-sharp humour with piercing cultural critique in this intrepidly daring new one-woman show.
“shaniqua in abstraction is a powerful solo piece that speaks to sensuality, performance, and Black femininity,” says Otu. “We are truly looking forward to the conversations this piece will spark with our audiences.”
For additional information about Obsidian Theatre’s 23.24 programming, visit obsidiantheatre.com
THREE SISTERS by Inua Ellams (Canadian Premiere)
An Obsidian and Soulpepper Theatre co-production
Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Feb 29 – Mar 24, 2024
In the tumultuous backdrop of Owerri in 1967, as the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War looms ominously, three siblings; Lolo, Nne Chukwu, and Udo, grapple with the profound loss of their father. The nation has been thrust into turmoil by two military coups, with foreign involvement fueling the chaos. As the conflict gradually engulfs their rural village, the sisters yearn to return to Lagos, their cherished former home.
shaniqua in abstraction by bahia watson (World Premiere)
A Crow’s Theatre Production in Association with paul watson productions and Obsidian Theatre
Directed by Sabryn Rock
April 9 – April 28, 2024
In this searching new work, bahia brings her poet’s heart, vaulting imagination, and disarming humour to shape a kaleidoscopic explosion of experiences and shifting identities that defiantly push back the boundaries defining Black womanhood.
seven methods of killing kylie jenner by Jasmine Lee-Jones (Canadian Premiere)
An Obsidian Theatre production in association with Crows Theatre
Directed by Jay Northcott
May 6 – May 26, 2024
seven methods of killing kylie jenner evolves around close friends Cleo and Kara grappling with the pervasive influence of social media and celebrity culture in their lives. This powerful and provocative play explores ownership of Black bodies, cultural appropriation, social media and female friendships.