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Getting kinky with Trey

08 Jun 2005

AfroToronto.com's Eloi Minka and Stacey Holder meet Da Kink in My Hair author Trey Anthony

Her face exudes happiness and contentment as she reclines against the cushions of her lime-green sofa. Around her, sculptures from Ghana and colourful art pieces cover the walls. Incense burns.

“I always felt that it was bigger than myself,” she says looking away."It was worth it, because the play had a mythical quality to it."

She is referring to Da Kink in My Hair. The tiny play that first opened at Theatre Passe Muraille in June 2002 and grew to now “become its own company almost”.

Success didn''t come easily Anthony recognizes.

“I dropped out of university to pursue theatre. My mother was really horrified! I don’t think you can tell a Black mom you’re gonna be an actress,” she says laughing.

Trey Anthony worked in the entertainment industry for eight years, doing stand-up comedy, producing shows for WTN and writing for CTV and The Comedy Network prior to the release of Da Kink in My Hair. And even its release did not automatically bring financial rewards.

I had to sell my house to pay the cast,” she says with a chuckle. “One time we went to New York and I told my cast to put on T-shirts and go on the train and sing. I would have had an easier time getting the play to this level though, if I had compromised on certain things. Some people asked me if I could make the main character an American or whether I could add some white people to the cast.”

In order to hold on to her original vision she had to maintain a certain amount of control over most of the productions. ”The only time I didn’t produce the show was when it was at Mirvish,” Anthony says.

Da Kink in My Hair is a play set in a West-Indian beauty salon. Through the diverse cast of characters that enter the salon, it explores various issues such as homophobia, sexual orientation, child molestation and the sheer joy of companionship.

So how does one sell such a concoction to one of Canada’s biggest theatres?

“It was a struggle, but what sold them was the fact that it broke records wherever it went. It sold out and it was going to bring them that urban audience they were looking for.”

Following up such a successful production is a challenge Trey Anthony doesn’t take lightly.

"I just want to write more for myself now. I would like to do more theatre mixed with comedy. I am working on a novel; a coming of age novel. The working title of the novel is If Water Replaced Air. I am also working on a screenplay. I would love to see Da Kink go worldwide, in Japan, in New York on Broadway, In England and across Canada.”

What impact does she think her work has had on the Toronto theatre scene?

"There are currently four Black-themed plays in the city. This was not happening last year at all! So I definitely think it has something to do with Da Kink and I am hoping that more people would want to take a chance [on other plays]”.

Trey Anthony is from Rexdale.

“Toronto is my home,” she says repeating it for emphasis. And she gives back to the community through her involvement in youth programs, such as SOY (a group that supports black gay and lesbian teens), and Y Arts as a creative programmer. Anthony recognizes the need to support the youth, to encourage and promote entrepreneurship and encourage young people to make their own path in life and to give back and help build a more positive community.

Asked about a legacy, she replies without hesitation: she wants to be remembered as "the woman who pushed and redefined the boundaries."

Trey Anthony will host “dat girl ‘sho is funny”, (a show featuring all women of color and including sketch comedy, standup and spoken word) this Saturday June 11th at the St. Lawrence Centre for The Arts.

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