Stage Door News

Toronto: Obsidian Theatre launches the pro-dev programme “Young, Gifted and Black”

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

On the heels of receiving 8 Canadian Screen Award nominations for the legacy defining project 21 BLACK FUTURES launched in February 2021 on CBC Gem, Obsidian Theatre is excited to announce a vital new training and mentorship program supporting Black theatre creators, YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK. Named after the titular play by Lorraine Hansberry and song by Nina Simone, this innovative and expansive professional development program will invite five emerging Black theatre artists per year to participate in masterclasses, mentorships, and industry conversations with leading Black theatre practitioners. The program, which will run over a 14-month period, will also place participants in paid professional apprenticeships and culminate in a collective creation and presentation in Toronto, Ontario.

An ambitious revitalization of Obsidian’s former mentorship program which ran successfully for 15 years and nurtured the careers of an extensive list of today’s Black theatre leaders –including Obsidian Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu– the new program expands upon the company’s legacy of supporting the next generation of Black theatre creators in an environment that uniquely honours their cultural experiences.

“Our vision for this program was very much informed by recent experiences including making 21 BLACK FUTURES,” says Obsidian Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. “It is critically important for Black artists to have access to education and mentorship from other Black artists, and beyond that to experience working in spaces in which they are not the minority. In addition to addressing serious inequities in representation, we want nothing less than to support Black creators in acquiring the skills and confidence they need to revolutionize our community with their stories, we want to eliminate barriers to participation, and we want to advance Black voices - in all their myriad dialects – and a Black aesthetic in this country.”

Some of Canada’s most illustrious Black theatre professionals are slated to lead the masterclasses in the program’s inaugural year: Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director Soulpepper Theatre, will lead a Masterclass in Directing; Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director Soulpepper Theatre and Former Producer at Obsidian Theatre, a Masterclass in Producing; Rachel Forbes, Freelance Set & Costume Designer, Graduate of Mentor-Apprentice Program, a Masterclass in Set & Costume Design; Lisa Codrington, Playwright, and Actor, and Facilitator of Obsidian's Playwright's Unit, and Mel Hague, Associate Artistic Director Canadian Stage a Masterclass in Dramaturgy; Daniel Bennett, Technical Director, Grand Theatre London, a Masterclass in Technical Direction & Production Management; and Mike Payette, Artistic Director, Tarragon Theatre, will lead a Masterclass in Directing.

YOUNG, GIFTED, AND BLACK opens its inaugural call for applications today, with the first cohort getting underway in the second part of 2022. The program is open to Black theatre makers across Canada who are emerging in their career (no age restrictions apply) and will focus on developing creators in non-performance disciplines including directors, designers, stage managers, dramaturges, and producers.

Young Gifted and Black is generously sponsored by:

Obsidian Theatre’s Season Sponsor: TD Bank Group

Program Sponsors: Catapult/Rideau Hall Foundation, Scotiabank, Toronto Arts Council Strategic Fund

For additional information about YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK please visit