Stage Door News

Toronto: “The First Stone” has its premiere at Buddies in Bad Times October 6-16

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Opening its 44th season, Buddies is thrilled to present an epic production of a new play by Donna Michelle St. Bernard, The First Stone. Featuring a 15-person ensemble, this New Harlem Productions and Great Canadian Theatre Company production has its world premiere in downtown Toronto at Buddies, before an April presentation in Ottawa. This ambitious new project has been supported through the NAC’s National Creation Fund.

The themes of justice, interdependence, and reconciliation of this new play reverberate with both a Canadian and global context, while focusing in on one family’s struggle to reunite after the children are captured into an army. The First Stone draws on interviews with Acholi families torn apart by child abductions and the decades-long civil conflict in Uganda and marries text, movement, and song to tell a universal story that tackles ideas of generational violence, forgiveness, and what it really means to come home. Since its first draft as part of Obsidian Theatre’s Playwrights Unit, and a first presentation in 2018, the piece has continued to evolve. Throughout its development, a connection between the art and the artists’ communities has been at the heart of the process, with different approaches to violence, harm, and justice being explored through a series of Community Justice Forums engaging speakers, panelists, and participants from arts communities and beyond. These ideas feed back into the work onstage as well as the conversations built around it.

“This is a village-built play, held together by care and solidarity, crafted in community with invested allies.” says playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, “The question of who gets to go home is one that impacts us all—echoing from the ranks of minor combatants to the bunks of residential schools, the broken foster care system and contemporary youth incarceration facilities. This play aims to hear from the children.”

The First Stone is written by Dora-award winning and Governor General Literary Award-nominated playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Cake, Sound of the Beast), and makes up part of her 54ology series of performance works responding to historical and current contexts of different African countries. Led by director Yvette Nolan (The Unplugging, Reasonable Doubt), the creative team for the production includes choreographers Indrit Kasapi and Pulga Muchochoma and a design team featuring Maddie Bautista, Michelle Ramsay, Jackie Chau, Jeff Chief, and Cameron Davis. The ensemble cast features performers both new and familiar to Buddies audiences, including Tsholo Khalema, daniel jelani ellis, Makambe S. Simamba, Courage Bacchus, Uche Ama, and Michael Lamont-Lytle alongside a chorus of performers who embody various community members in this expansive story.


Black Out Night - Wednesday, October 12, 7:30PM: Black Out Nights are designed to create a safer space for Black community members to come together and engage with works by Black artists. The performance on October 12 is exclusively for Black audiences. Advance tickets can be booked online, with PWYC tickets available at the door.

Reduced Capacity Performances - October 4 + 13: The capacity of the house will be reduced to 50% of its usual total for the performances on Tuesday, October 4, and Thursday, October 13. This smaller-capacity performance is scheduled with immuno-compromised audience members in mind, as well as those who do not yet feel comfortable in a full theatre. Masking and COVID screening continues to be mandatory for audience members at all performances.

More details on accessibility at performances of The First Stone will be added to the website soon.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents a New Harlem Productions and Great Canadian Theatre Company production

The First Stone

An epic exploration of history, war, and forgiveness, The First Stone delves into the exploitation of child abductees, the communities from which these children are stolen, the determination to bring them home, and the hard road to reconciliation that follows. Through poetry and song, this world-premiere production follows one family’s effort to reunite, measuring the cost of holding on, and of letting go.

written by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard directed by Yvette Nolan

choreography by Indrit Kasapi + Pulga Muchochoma 

lighting design by Michelle Ramsay

sound design by Maddie Bautista

set design by Jackie Chau

projection design by Cameron Davis costume design by Jeff Chief

featuring Uche Ama, Dorothy Atabong, Courage Bacchus Taija Shonée Chung, Tavaree Daniel-Simms, daniel jelani ellis, Tsholo Khalema, Michael-Lamont Lytle, Megan Legesse, Gloria Mampuya, Willow Martin, Kendelle Parks, Makambe K. Simamba, Nawa Nicole Simon, and Paul Smith.

Performance information:

Previews: Oct 2, 4 + 5

Opening Night: Oct 6

Closing Performance: Oct 16

Runs: Weds-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm

Tickets: Sliding scale ($10 / $25 / $40 / $70)

Photo: Daniel Jelani Ellis and Makambe K. Simamba by Dylan Mitro.