After receiving 8 Canadian Screen Award nominations for the legacy-defining project 21 BLACK FUTURES launched in February 2021 on CBC Gem, Obsidian Theater is thrilled to announce a vital new training and mentorship program to support Black theater makers. , 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 theater artists each year to participate in masterclasses, mentorships and industry conversations with leading practitioners of black theatre. The program, which will take place over a 14-month period, will also place participants in paid professional internships and conclude with a collective creation and presentation in Toronto, Ontario.
An ambitious revitalization of Obsidian’s former mentorship program that operated successfully for 15 years and nurtured the careers of a long list of today’s black theater leaders – including Obsidian’s artistic director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu – the new program builds on the company’s legacy of supporting the next generation of Black Theater Makers in an environment that uniquely honors their cultural experiences.
“Our vision for this program has been very much informed by recent experiences, including the creation of 21 BLACK FUTURES,” said Obsidian Artistic Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. “It is extremely important for black artists to have access to education and mentorship from other black artists, and beyond that, to have the experience of working in spaces in which they are not In addition to addressing serious inequities in representation, we want nothing less than to help black creators gain the skills and confidence they need to revolutionize our community with their stories, we want to remove 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 theater professionals are set to lead masterclasses in the program’s inaugural year: Weyni Mengesha, artistic director of Soulpepper Theatre, will lead a masterclass in directing; Luke Reece, associate artistic director of Soulpepper Theater and former producer at Obsidian Theater, a master class in production; Rachel Forbes, independent set designer and costume designer, graduate of the Mentor-Apprentice program, a master class in set design and costumes; Lisa Codrington, Playwright and Actor, and Facilitator of Obsidian’s Playwrights Unit, and Mel Hague, Associate Artistic Director Canadian Stage a Masterclass in Dramaturgy; Daniel Bennett, Technical Director, Grand Theater London, a Masterclass in Technical Direction and Production Management; and Mike Payette, Artistic Director of the Tarragon Theatre, will lead a masterclass in directing.
YOUNG, GIFTED, AND BLACK opens its first call for applications today, with the first cohort beginning in the second half of 2022. The program is open to Black theater makers across Canada who are emerging in their careers (no restrictions from age does not apply) and will focus on the development of creators in disciplines other than performance, including directors, designers, managers, playwrights and producers.
For more information on YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK, please visit http://www.obsidiantheatre.com/season/young-gifted-and-black.