Stage Door News
Toronto: Canadian Stage, Necessary Angel and Obsidian Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of “Is God Is” May 3-22
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Continuing the 21.22 season, Canadian Stage partners with Obsidian Theatre Company and Necessary Angel Theatre Company to present the Canadian Premiere of the explosive and ground-breaking IS GOD IS by Aleshea Harris. Directed by Obsidian Theatre Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, the anticipated production runs May 3rd to May 22nd at the Berkeley Street Theatre.
In IS GOD IS a mother demands her twin daughters seek retribution against their father: “Make your daddy dead. Make him real dead. All the way dead.” Her words set the twins Racine and Anaia off on an epic journey for righteous revenge, from the Dirty South to the Hollywood Hills, letting no one stand in their way. Equal parts ancient and modern, Spaghetti Western and Afropunk, this gripping thriller hurtles toward a conclusion that’s as inevitable as it is shocking. Since its premiere, the play has been described as absurdist, brazen, chilling, crisp, entertaining, exhilarating, lurid, post-modern, outrageous, and Tarantino-esque.
Tindyebwa Otu’s production will be led by Oyin Oladejo and Vanessa Sears, and feature Tyrone Benskin, Matthew Brown, Savion Roach, Sabryn Rock, Alison Sealy-Smith, and Micah Woods.
“I am so bloody excited to work with this cast,” says Tindyebwa Otu. “As the twins, Oyin and Vanessa create a fascinating contrast. They are both incredible performers–fierce and full of heart in completely distinct and complementary ways.
While the twins drive the action in the play, each performer in the ensemble bring their own unique mythology to the stage, physically, vocally, and spiritually. Harris is constantly challenging and disrupting assumptions about how we view and encounter Black bodies on stage– the unique and varied presence of each of these artists absolutely supports that disruption.”
The second play from Harris, IS GOD IS was awarded the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award in 2016 and the World Premiere production at the Soho Rep Theatre in 2018 earned three Obie Awards (playwriting, directing, and performance) while being met with a wave of critical acclaim announcing a major new force in the American theatre. In a feature published April 2019, the New York Times culture critic Wesley Morris commented, “Decades of moviemakers, novelists and playwrights have been trying to unlock the mysteries of Sam Shepard. This woman is the first to convince me she’s got a key. “Is God Is” signals the arrival of a very good playwright. It also feels like the staking of a major claim.”
“We are thrilled to be working with both Obsidian Theatre and Necessary Angel on the Canadian premiere of this piece which has made such a vital mark on the contemporary American theatre landscape,” says Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “I can’t think of another director in this country more perfect to helm this production than Mumbi – like Aleshea Harris herself, Mumbi has been leading the articulation of a Black theatre aesthetic in this country with incredible strength and innovation.”
“Obsidian Theatre, Necessary Angel and Canadian Stage share a vision of presenting work that bravely interrogates who we are and where we are in the current moment, "adds Necessary Angel Artistic Director Alan Dilworth. “IS GOD IS goes well beyond challenging assumptions and expectations of identity – it rips them apart so we can see ourselves and the current moment anew. We are proud and very grateful to co-present this urgent work for Canadian audiences.”
Tindyebwa Otu leads a creative team that includes lighting design by Raha Javinfar, set design by Ken Mackenzie, sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne, costume design by Ming Wong, video design by Laura Warren, and movement direction by Jaz ‘Fairy J’ Simone.
IS GOD IS runs from May 3rd to May 22nd with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at the Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto. Tickets start at $29 and are available now online. For more information, please visit www.canadianstage.com.
Photo: Oyin Oladejo and Vanessa Sears. © 2022 Dahlia Katz.