Stage Door News

Toronto: Young People’s Theatre launches its 2021/22 season with “rihannaboi95” by Jordan Tannahill

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Young People’s Theatre (YPT) is thrilled to kick off its 56th season with playwright Jordan Tannahill’s powerful virtual play for teens, rihannaboi95. Available online from Nov. 22-Dec. 18, the play features Sunny – aka “rihannaboi95” online – whose whole world threatens to come crashing down when videos of them dancing to their favourite pop singer go viral. Recommended for ages 13-18, the play is a raw, unvarnished account of a teenager with a unique talent in the relentless pursuit of self-expression, despite the danger it poses.

Tannahill is one of Canada’s most accomplished playwrights and a 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee. rihannaboi95 is one of three pieces featured in their Governor General Award-winning play collection, Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays. It received the 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award for ‘Best New Play’, Theatre for Young Audiences Division. Acting as Artistic Advisor for YPT’s 2021 version of the production is Bilal Baig - lead and co-creator of the boundary-breaking series Sort Of (CBC/HBOMax). rihannaboi95 is directed by Dora Award-nominated theatre artist Tawiah M'Carthy (Obaaberima), and features actor and playwright Davinder Malhi.

Originally produced in 2013 by experimental theatre company Suburban Beast, the production resonates in a whole new way in 2021 as teens – and the whole world – moved entirely online to express and connect.

Says new Artistic Director Herbie Barnes, “Young people today know how important their online presence is – and how one small step can negatively and immediately alter their world. I believe this play will create much conversation and change for the better.”


Written by Jordan Tannahill 

Directed by Tawiah M'Carthy 

Featuring Davinder Malhi

Sunny (aka rihannaboi95 online) made some videos and shared them online. And while, yeah, they’re getting lots of hits, not everyone likes them. Now, Sunny’s whole world is threatening to implode. Hidden in the bedroom of Keira – a drugstore makeup counter clerk – Sunny records a video for their loyal viewers and invokes the spirit of Rihanna to help with the situation.

Artistic Advisor: Bilal Baig; Set & Costume Designer: Camellia Koo; Lighting Designer: Michelle Ramsay; Sound Designer: River Oliveira; Stage Manager: Bradley Dunn.

A Described Video version is available. All performances include a pre-recorded post-show discussion with members of the creative team. Workshops for schools, as well as a study guide, are also available.

rihannaboi95 was first produced in Canada by Suburban Beast (Toronto, ON) from April 23 to 28, 2013. The play was performed nightly in a bedroom and live-streamed over the Internet for audiences to watch from their computers.

Watch at

Jordan Tannahill, Playwright

Jordan's plays have been translated into ten languages, and won several awards including the Governor General's Award for Drama in 2014 for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, and again in 2018 for Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom. His performance texts and productions have been presented at venues including Canadian Stage, The National Arts Centre of Canada, The Young Vic, Sadler's Wells, Festival d'Avignon, The Lincoln Centre, the Deutsches Theatre, The Edinburgh International Festival, and on London's West End. His second novel, The Listeners, was nominated for the 2021 Giller Prize.

Tawiah M’Carthy, Director

Tawiah is a Ghanaian-born, Toronto-based Theatre Practitioner, notable as a Dora-nominated playwright and performer. Tawiah’s credits include Black Boys (Saga Collectif); Obaaberima (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre); and Yɛn Ara Asaase Ni (Obsidian Theatre - 21 Black Futures). Tawiah is a founding member of Saga Collectif and Blue Bird Theatre Collective and has worked at theatre companies across the country including Soulpepper Theatre, Stratford Theatre Festival, Shaw Theatre Festival, Factory Theatre and The National Arts Center. Tawiah was the artistic director of the 2020 Festival of Ideas and Creation and currently the artist outreach and development coordinator at Canadian Stage. Tawiah is also a co- director of the Emerging Creators Unit at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Davinder Malhi, Performer

Davinder is an actor, playwright, director, and a recent graduate from York University’s acting conservatory. His art explores the meeting place between realism and surrealism, with a special focus on bringing Brown bodies into that space. He hopes to use his process to foster communities that work towards a Brown Queer future. Davinder was a member of Shakespeare in the Ruff’s Young Ruffians Apprenticeship Program, Shadowland Theatre’s Summer Internship program, and Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory Committee. Some acting credits include Concord Floral (Canadian Stage); Elizabeth Rex (York University); and Towards Rebirth (Shakespeare in the Ruff). He also directed Just Pervs at the 2021 Toronto Fringe and is co-writing his first full-length play, choti choti batain.