A photo of the book Testifyin’: Contemporary African Canadian Drama – Edited by Black canadian playwright Djanet Sears
Photo Taken by Nneka Plummer

Read any plays by Black Canadian playwrights lately? Here is a valuable list of five incredibly talented playwrights to look into!

Djanet Sears

Djanet Sears, a Toronto playwright originally born in London, England. She has written plays such as Harlem Duet, Afrika Solo and Adventures of A Black Girl In Search of God. She’s an award winning playwright, editor, and professor – currently teaching at the University of Toronto. “Influenced by West-African forms of epic storytelling, Sears developed a signature dramaturgy and performance style that supported and developed its narrative material through choral technique, rhythms, singing and movement” (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Afrika Solo got her a lot of recognition as a playwright. In 2006, Djanet directed Harlem Duet at the Stratford Festival, and it was the first all black cast at the festival, with the first black director! She is also one of the founding members of Obsidian Theatre Company.

Donna Michelle St. Bernard

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard is a Dora Award winning playwright for outstanding play. Some of the plays she’s written are: Salome’s Clothes, Sound Of The Beast, and Cake. She has been a playwright in residence for Obsidian Theatre, Banff Centre’s 2014 Playwrights’ Colony, and Stratford Festivals playwright retreat. Donna-Michelle is big on diversity and advocates for different stories to be heard. She is not only a playwright, but a dramaturg and performer. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard is currently the New Harlem Productions artistic director, emcee in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, the coordinator of the ADHOC Assembly, and the Write From The Hip Program Director at Nightwood Theatre.

Joseph Jomo Pierre

Trinidadian born, Joseph Jome Pierre grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. He received a BFA in acting at York University. Hip Hop culture is a huge influence on his work. Also, he is passionate about representing black folks who are not represented on stage. Plays he has written are: Beat Down, Twisted, and Shakespeare’s Nigga. His play, Shakespeare’s Nigga was a finalist for the Governor Generals Literary Award for Drama in 2013. He has been a playwright in residence of Obsidian Theatre, Factory Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraillle.

Joseph Pierre: 2007 Theatre Award Winner (Youtube)

Andrew Moodie

Andrew Moodie is a director, actor, and playwright from Ottawa. He has performed at theatres such as The Great Canadian Theatre Company, Factory Theatre, and Theatre Passe Muraille. In 1995, his play Riot was produced at Factory Theatre, and was very popular. He acted in it as well, and it was performed at The Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal. His play, The Lady Smith was performed at Theatre Passe Muraille in March 2000, and Real McCoy first premiered at Factory Theatre in 2006. Moodie’s plays are politically driven, and he thrives on starting a conversation that can create change. Also, interesting fact, his play, Toronto The Good opened at Factory and was directed by former artistic director of Obsidian, Philip Akin!

Amanda Parris

Amanda Parris got her MA in sociology of education at the university of Toronto. She currently writes stories for the stage, and screen. She wrote the play, Other Side of the Game, and it was awarded the Governor General Literary Award for drama in 2019. Other Side Of The Game was co-produced by Cahoots Theatre and Obsidian Theatre. She also studied at the Antifrika Dub Theatre, and the Lee Strasberg Institute of Film and Theatre. Not to mention, Amanda has a weekly column for CBC Arts that she writes for, and she is the host of Exhibitionists on CBC Television and Marvin’s Room on CBC. She is a fascinating new face to Black theatre.

One last thing!

It is important to point out that Obsidian Theatre is doing a really incredible creative experience with 4 of the playwrights I have mentioned (Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Amanda Parris, Djanet Sears, and Joseph Jomo Pierre). They will be part of the 21 Black Future’s project. Black Future will be celebrating the 21st Anniversary of Obsidian, by commissioning 21 playwrights across Canada to write their own piece, answering the question: “What is the future of Blackness?” Stay tuned for this event in February!

Find out our selection of the worlds best playwrights here.

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