- Category: Arts
- Written by Meres J. Weche
A Great Night for Black Theatre
Each year, the Dora Mavor Moore Awards (The Doras) celebrate and reward the best of Toronto’s performing arts scene. Last night, at the 27th annual Doras, Black theatre’s star shined as bright as the Black Star of Ghana has been doing on the soccer field with the World Cup. Just like the giant of the Brazil that the soccer world’s Black Star of Ghana will face today, last night, Toronto’s theatre world’s Black stars were up against some equally imposing giants from Middle Earth (The Lord of the Rings) and others.
As I write this, it is still uncertain how the Black Stars of Ghana will fare, but the Blacks stars of Toronto’s theatre world certainly succeeded in shining bright for all to see.
The Winter Garden Theatre on Yonge street was abuzz with anticipation as the large crowd of performing arts practitioners and lovers of theatre made their way inside the beautiful hall. As soon as the evening got underway, we knew we were in for a fun-filled and unusual evening as the flamboyant host, decked out in a bright orange/red shirt, picked some members of the audience to act as co-hosts. Some of them surprised the audience with their quick wit, humour and composure in front of the large crowd. Leading to rumours amongst the audience that they may not have been so randomly picked after all. In any event, the format of the evening was certainly innovative even if some of the host’s humour might have hit below the belt at times.
This year, while the bulk of the nominations had been garnered by the grand Mirvish production of The Lord of the Rings, it is undeniable that Afro-Canadian plays, actors and directors had an amazing night of well-deserved recognition. Among the plays nominated were blood.claat – one womban story (Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role by D’bi Young and Outstanding Production of a Play by Theatre Passe Muraille), The Monument (Outstanding Production by Obsidian Theatre Company and Oustanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role by Yanna McIntosh), and Two Can Play (Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role with Karen Robinson). Directing nominations also went to Weyni Mengesha (for blood.claat – one womban story) and Nigel Shawn Williams (for The Monument). AfroToronto.com was proud to have had the opportunity to meet and follow many of these great theatre practitioners and also others, likewise nominated, who help broaden the cultural base of Toronto’s vibrant theatre scene like John Blackwood (Oustanding Perforance by a Male for Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine) and Anita Majumdar (Outstanding Choreography in a Play or Musical for Fish Eyes).
Without a doubt, the overall MVPs of the night for individual awards were two truly gifted and amazing shining lights of Toronto’s Afro-Canadian arts community: ahdri zhina mandiela (founder of b current) and D’bi Young. Both were winners of, not one, but two awards last night. In recognition of her outstanding career achievements in the performing arts, ahdri zhina mandiela was awarded the George Luscombe Award (for mentorship in theatre) and the much-coveted Silver Ticket Award (for outstanding contribution to the development of Canadian Theatre). For her part, the multi-talented D’bi Young was honoured with awards in the Outstanding New Play category (for blood.claat) and Outstanding Performance by a female in a Principal Role (also for blood.claat). Congratulations must also go to Nigel Shawn Williams for his win in the category of Outsanding Direction of a Play (for The Monument).
Whatever happens to the Black Stars of Ghana on the soccer field in Germany today against Brazil, we can certainly rest assured that we have our own shining Black Stars right here in Toronto.