Black Theatre Workshop is Canada’s oldest Black theatre company. Our mission is to encourage and promote the development of a Black and Canadian Theatre, rooted in a literature that reflects the creative will of Black Canadian writers and artists, and the creative collaborations between Black and other artists. Black Theatre Workshop aims to promote and produce Black theatre that educates, entertains and delights its audiences. The company strives to create a greater cross-cultural understanding by its presence and the intrinsic value of its work.
Artistic Goals or Objectives
The artistic policy is to program primarily plays by Afri-Canadian playwrights, however plays are selected firstly on their artistic merit. While BTW continues to attract a diverse audience, plays are selected for their relevance to Black society and culture. This is in answer to the growing need amongst the Black communities to see themselves reflected in the stories they watch and to further answer the need for the general audience to better understand and participate in the varied aspects of Black culture.
A Brief History
BTW is the oldest Black theatre company in Canada. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1972. The history of BTW involves a relentless struggle to diversify and democratize the arts in Canada. This has been accomplished by increasing the range of performing arts and cultures that are recognized, accepted, and supported in Canada at the level of audiences, patrons, sponsors, funding agencies and governments. BTW is the longest-surviving and most established Black theatre company in Canada, due in part to our continued commitments to artistic excellence, social relevance and our audiences, and to our ability to adapt as a self-renewing arts organization.
Awards, Nominations and Mentions
· 2 META award wins (Montreal English Theatre Awards) in 2016/17 for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre’ by SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble, ‘Outstanding PACT Production’ for Angélique by Lorena Gale (co-production with Tableau D’Hôte Theatre). The 10 META nominations also included ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actress’ Jenny Brizard, ‘Outstanding Direction’ Mike Payette, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Karl Graboshas, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Tristan D. Lalla, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Olivier Lamarche, ‘Outstanding Set Design’ Eo Sharp, ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ David Perreault Ninacs, and ‘Outstanding Sound Design’ Sixtrum Percussion Ensemble.
· 7 META award wins (Montreal English Theatre Awards) in 2015/16 for ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actor’ by Walter Borden, ‘Outstanding Direction’ by Djanet Sears, ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ by Jason Hand, ‘Outstanding Original Composition’ by Alejandra Nunez & Djanet Sears, ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre’ by the Chorus: Troy Adams, Kaleb Alexander, Tamara Brown, Janelle Cooper, Marie-Christine Depestre, Trudy Lee Gayle, Don Jordan, Evangelia Kambites, Kayvon Kelly, Tristan D. Lalla, Amanda LeBlanc, Paula-Jean Prudat, Saidah Baba Talibah, Alison Woolridge, ‘Outstanding PACT Production’ for The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (co-production with Centaur Theatre and National Arts Centre) and the ‘Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Award’ for the Artist Mentorshop Program. The 13 META nominations also included Quincy Armorer ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actor’, Barbara Barnes-Hopkins ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance – Actress’, Lili Francks ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance – Actress’, Astrid Jansen ‘Outstanding Costume Design’, Peter Cerone ‘Outstanding Sound Design’, and Vivine Scarlett ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre – Choreography’ in the Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.
· 3 META award wins (Montreal English Theatre Awards) in 2014/15 for ‘Outstanding Lead Performance’ for Lucinda Davis and ‘Outstanding Sound Design’ Peter Cerone for random (co-production with Imago Theatre) and ‘Outstanding Emerging Artist’ Virgilia Griffith for Gas Girls. 6 META nominations also included Micheline Chevrier ‘Outstanding Direction’ and Martin Sirois ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ for random, Virgilia Griffith ‘Outstanding Lead Performance’, Chimwemwe Miller ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ and Rob Denton ‘Outstanding Sound Design’ in Gas Girls.
· 5 META Nominations in 2013/14 for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress’ for Kim Villagante, ‘Outstanding Sound Design’ for Troy Slocum, ‘Outstanding Original Composition’ for Troy Slocum and Collaborators, ‘Outstanding New Text’ for Omari Newton and ‘Outstanding Professional Production’ for Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of.
· 2013 World Premier of Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of by Omari Newton (Co-production with urban ink Productions)
· a META Award win (Montreal English Theatre Award) in 2012/13 for ‘Best Actress’ (Lucinda Davis) and a nominations for ‘Best Sound Design’ (Rob Denton) and Best Supporting Actor (Jeremiah Sparks) for our production of Harlem Duet.
· 2013 World Premier of When Elephant was King by Chimwemwe Miller
· Actress Warona Setshwaelo, of Stori Ya, was featured as “One to Watch” in The Montreal Gazette’s year-end review of 2011 arts in Montreal.
· 2011 World Premier of Stori Ya by Joan M. Kivanda
· DreamKEEPERS Life Achievement Award in 2011 in recognition of BTW as a clarion voice of equality, providing inspired role models for all Canadians
· a MECCA (Montreal’s English Critics Circle Award) nomination in 2011 for Best Actress (Ranee Lee) for A Raisin in the Sun
· a SOBA (Sounds of Blackness Award) recognition award in 2011
· a MECCA Award win in 2010 for ‘Best Lighting Design’ (Swan Song of Maria)
· a MECCA Award win in 2009 for ‘Best Costume Design’ (Le Code Noir)
· 2009 World Premiere of Le Code Noir by George Boyd.
· BTW was honoured in 2009 by the Table Ronde du Mois de l’Histoire des Noirs in their annual calendar.
· 3 MECCA Award nominations in 2008 with a win for ‘Best Lighting’ for blood[claat].
· a SOBA Award nomination in 2007 for The Lady Smith)
· a MECCA Award nomination in 2006 for ‘Best Ensemble Cast’ (Blacks Don’t Bowl)
· Blacks Don’t Bowl voted ‘Best Play of the Year’ in the Montreal Mirror’s annual audience survey
· Blacks Don’t Bowl nominated for ‘Best English Language Production’ for Les Masques
· 2006 World Premiere of Blacks Don’t Bowl by Vadney S.Haynes.
· 2005 Black Theatre Workshop’s production of Wade in the Water, bought by Centaur Theatre in Montreal.
· 2005 Wade in the Water published by Playwrights of Canada Press
· 2005 Black Theatre Workshop honoured by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Committee of Montreal, Historic Contribution to the Development of Black Performing Arts in Canada.
· 2004 MECCA Award Best Director for Wade in the Water. Also runner-up for Best Production.
· 2004 World Premiere of Wade in the Water by George Boyd.
· Trail Blazer Award (Black History Month Round Table Award). In recognition of Black Theatre Workshop’s exceptional and exemplary dedication to the development of the community by promoting cultural diversity, educational awareness and social consciousness.
· 2003 MECCA Award Best Ensemble Cast, for A Common Man’s Guide to Loving Women. Two other MECCA nominations, Best Director, Best Overall Production, for A Common Man’s Guide to Loving Women.
· 2003 World Premiere of Bluenose by Emil Sher. Co-produced with Geordie Productions.