Stage Door News

Toronto: Obsidian Theatre announces inaugural cohort for Young, Gifted & Black

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Following the announcement earlier this year that Obsidian Theatre was launching a vital new training and mentorship program supporting Black theatre creators –YOUNG, GIFTED & BLACK (YGB)– the company is thrilled to unveil the inaugural cohort for the program, which has recently gotten underway and will continue through to September 2023.

After conducting a nationwide call for applications, the team of adjudicators –Obsidian Theatre’s Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, General Manager Michael Sinclair, Producer Vanessa Spence, Metcalf Intern Artistic Director daniel jelani ellis, and YGB Program Director Jay Northcott– have selected K.P. Dennis (directing), Asheda Dwyer (producing and dramaturgy), Christopher-Elizabeth (production management, sound, and lighting design), Janeena Morris (stage management, set, and costume design), and Lennette Randall (producing and directing) for the program’s first year. In selecting from the pool of applicants, considerations were made in regards to diversity in artistic practice and assembling the best team to work together as an ensemble.

“We are so excited to welcome our first Young Gifted & Black cohort,” says Obsidian Theatre Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. “We had such an overwhelming response to the national call and making the selection to choose these final five was really difficult. There is clearly a great need for this program and we are looking forward to this first year of getting to know these incredible emerging artists and to support their artistic growth. Canadian theatres are searching for Black talent not just on stage but behind the scenes, and we are truly hopeful that this program will help fill this gap. We are excited to have incredible multidisciplinary artist Jay Northcott as the Program Director and we know that the program and the participants will flourish under their care. We can’t wait for you to meet these remarkable artists and get to know their work!”

Some of Canada’s most illustrious Black theatre professionals lead the masterclasses in the program’s inaugural year: Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director Soulpepper Theatre, and Mike Payette, Artistic Director Tarragon Theatre, lead Masterclasses 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 Obsidian’s former Mentor-Apprentice Program will lead a Masterclass in Set & Costume Design; Lisa Codrington, Playwright, Actor, and Facilitator of Obsidian’s Playwright’s Unit, and Mel Hague, Artistic Director Factory Theatre, a Masterclass in Dramaturgy; LaMeia Reddick, Executive Director 2b Theatre, a Masterclass in Arts Administration and Leadership; Daniel Bennett, freelance Technical Director and former Technical Director, Grand Theatre London, a Masterclass in Technical Direction & Production Management; Shawn Henry, a Masterclass in Lighting Design; and freelance stage manager Kennedy Greene and Obsidian General Manager Michael Sinclair, lead a Masterclass in Stage Management.

Named after the titular play by Lorraine Hansberry and song by Nina Simone, YOUNG, GIFTED & BLACK invites five emerging Black theatre artists (in non-performance disciplines) per year to participate in masterclasses, mentorships, and industry conversations with leading Black theatre practitioners. The program runs annually and places participants in paid professional apprenticeships that culminate in an ensemble showcase 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. Through this program, participants will interrogate the Black aesthetic and develop the Black voice to foster Black excellence.

For additional information about YOUNG, GIFTED & BLACK please our website.