by Christine Rodriguez
Our 2020 Black History Month School Tour
March 2020 Update: Our Black History Month school tour of Simone, Half and Half by Christine Rodriguez is complete! In addition to playing to schools accross Montreal, we donated a performance to Union United Church (which sold out) and hosted a public performance at BCRC (also sold out)! We are touched and thrilled with the success of this BTW original world premiere!
Simone, Half and Half is about a teen caught between cultures: Canadian, Québécois and Trinidadian. She’s also torn between projects: the talent show and the Black History and Culture Committee. As pressure mounts on seeing her projects through, her friendships start to feel the strain and her loyalties are tested. Simone must find the courage and the strength to stand up to her friends for what she believes in and what really matters to her. Will they listen? Will they accept her for who she really is?
This is a touching story about reaching out to the past, uncovering hopes and dreams for a better future and discovering one’s identity, told through theatre, music, dance and poetry.
Christine Rodriguez – PLAYWRIGHT
Montrealer Christine Rodriguez is the award-winning playwright of Dreaming in Autism, a one-woman show that received third prize at Ottawa Little Theatre’s 72nd National One-Act Playwriting Competition. Adjudicator Garry Davey described the work as a “strongly imagined piece with a distinctive style.” Christine followed that up with The Autism Monologues which goes beyond the story of one mother to share the points of view of many other people related to autism. Alt.theatre critic Kelann Currie-Williams writes, “There is a sort of unbounded power within those monologues; a power that transformed the space and the people within it.” Christine developed The Autism Monologues during the 2014-2015 BTW Artist Mentorship Program and a short term mentorship with the m-a-i in 2015. The play premiered at the 2018 Montreal Fringe Festival and received an Honourable Mention for Most Promising Theatre Company from the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts. Her work in French has also received notice with Je rêve en autisme being the focal point of an episode on ICI Radio-Canada’s Médium Large during Autism Awareness Month in April 2014 in which Québec producer Marc Bertrand declared “C’est un coup de cœur!”
Simone, Half and Half is the culmination of many years of work starting with a commission grant Christine was awarded from the Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations program to write a play for young audiences for Black Theatre Workshop. She was able to develop the play along the way with the support of Playwrights Workshop Montreal and the Canada Council for the Arts. As with all her work, this play holds no punches and celebrates her Trinidadian and Montreal South Shore roots.
Christine holds a Certificate of Professional Screenwriting from UCLA and a MBA from McGill University. She’s also a trained actor who’s appeared in film and TV productions such as Warm Bodies, Gurov and Anna, Blue Moon, Unité 9 and Ruptures; and recent theatre productions of The Domestic Crusaders and Hair, the Tribal Rock Musical. Her work is largely informed by her mixed race heritage and her multicultural environment. When she’s not writing or performing, she’s raising her beautiful son and working to earn a Major in Hispanic Studies from Université de Montréal.
Quincy Armorer – DIRECTOR
Quincy Armorer has worked professionally as an actor, director, instructor and administrator for several years. As an actor, he has worked at the Stratford Festival, Centaur Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, Geordie Productions, Repercussion, Piggery Theatre, Shakespeare by the Sea, among many others. He studied in the Theatre Department at Concordia University and at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre at the Stratford Festival. He was Associate Artistic Director of Black Theatre Workshop for the 2005-2006 season, before being named as Artistic Director in 2011.
Amanda Kellock – DIRECTOR CONSULTANT
Amanda Kellock is a director, actor, writer and teacher with a BFA in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Ottawa. She was part of the Directing Masterclass at Magnetic North in 2007, and the Directing Intern at the National Arts Centre for their 2007/2008 season where she directed the popular theatrical event Shakespeare’s Birthday. Some favourite projects include: directing Marcus Youssef’sJabber(Geordie Theatre), which was nominated for a DORA when it toured to YPT in Toronto before heading on an American tour; co-directing and performing in a mashup of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Purcell’s The Faerie Queen(Montreal Baroque Festival); adapting/directing Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree (Geordie Theatre). Amanda is the current Artistic Director of Repercussion Theatre, for whom she has directed and/or performed in over a dozen shows. She is honoured to be working with BTW for the first time.
Alexandra Laferrière – VANESSA
Alexandra Laferrière is an actor/creator based in Montreal. She is a John Abbott College Theatre program alumni and a former mentee in Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program. She has appeared in the series This Life, Real Detective and the short films Dear Mr. President and I’b Gurn!. Selected stage credits include Lola in Gas Girls (Black Theatre Workshop), Miranda in Miranda & Dave Begin Again (Gender Rubble Collective), Spatt in Bluenose (BTW), Pearlie in The West Woods (Mulgrave Road Theatre) and a leopard spirit in Rabbit in a Hat’s production of The Trophy Hunt. This will be Alexandra’s second school tour with Black Theatre Workshop.
Jennifer Roberts – SARAH
Jennifer is a Montreal-based actor, acting teacher, and emerging playwright who completed her B.F.A Specialization in Theatre & Development at Concordia University. Previous performances include Stage Kiss and Kingfisher Days (Festival Antigonish), A Thousand Paper Cranes and Chloe’s Choice (Geordie Theatre), Bar Kapra: Squirrel Hunter (Scapegoat Carnivale), Province (Talisman Theatre/The Other Theatre), among others. She was awarded a Montreal English Theatre Award (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as Simon in Chloe’s Choice. In addition to performing on the stage, Jennifer works as a voice actor for various video games and apps. This marks her debut performance with Black Theatre Workshop although she is no stranger to the company. Jennifer was privileged enough to participate as an actor in Black Theatre Workshop’s 2014-2015 Mentorship Program.
Autumn Taylor – SIMONE
Autumn Taylor is an actor from Montreal. She has been in training in acting for several years, she is also a writer, and has musical training. She has performed in several genres of theatre including Classical, Contemporary, and Commedia Dell’arte, etc. She is currently a graduate student from Concordia University’s Acting program.
Dakota Jamal Wellman – JAY
Dakota Jamal Wellman is a performer and creator currently based in Montreal. Originally from Port Hope, ON, Dakota completed his post-secondary studies in theatre at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Upon graduation, Dakota relocated to Montreal to participate in the Artist Mentorship Program at Black Theatre Workshop (2015-2016), and has been fortunate to call Montreal home ever since. No stranger to Theatre for Young Audiences, Dakota is excited to be working with BTW and telling this story. Winner of the 2017 META for Outstanding Emerging Artist – Performance, notable credits include: Eva In Rio (Playground Productions), Reaching For Starlight (Geordie Theatre), Blackout (Tableau D’Hote Theatre), Don’t Read The Comments (Sermo Scomber Theatre), The Revolutions (SpiderWebShow), Much Ado About Nothing (Repercussion Theatre). Film/TV: Futureman , Matthias & Maxime , The Walk-In Closet , The Bold Type , The Death And Life of John F. Donovan.
Nalo Soyini Bruce – SET & COSTUME DESIGNER
Nalo Soyini Bruce is a Montreal-based artist, set, costume and prop designer of Caribbean origin. Her designs evoke rich associations through vibrant colour relationships, textured surfaces and varied materials. She uses this vocabulary to express underlying historical, cultural and psychological dimensions of stories enacted on stage. As set elements are introduced or reoriented, or as outer and inner layers of costumes are revealed, the audience discovers the deeper layers of people, places and things. Since she emerged from the Black Theatre Workshop Artist Mentorship Program’s 2017-2018 ensemble, Nalo has worked with numerous theatre companies that include Black Theatre Workshop, Geordie Theatre and Tableau D’Hôte theatre on productions that explore themes of cultural identity, tolerance, acceptance, and hopeful futures. Recent projects include Scotian Journey, directed by Jamie Robinson (Black Theatre Workshop’s Black History Month school tour presentation, February 2019); Maskulin(e), directed by Michelle Rambharose(Half mask vignettes portraying different forms of toxic masculinity, May 2018); Rendez-vous With Home, directed by Dayane Ntibarikure (Black Theatre Workshop’s Black History Month school tour presentation, February 2018). Upcoming productions include Simone 1/2 and 1/2 (Black Theatre Workshop), Luna (Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal) and ‘Da Kink in My Hair (Arts Club Theatre Company). Nalo’s website: https://www.nalosoyini.com
Howard Davis – VIDEO DESIGNER
Haui aka Howard J. Davis is a multi-disciplinary artist of diverse heritage. He has worked at Stratford Festival as an assistant director in the Michael Langham Director’s Workshop, Shaw Festival as an actor/designer; National Arts Centre as an assistant director; Tarragon Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, GCTC and Neptune Theatre as a video designer; and performed with Neptune Theatre, Native Earth, Cahoots Theatre, Paper Canoe Projects and Factory Theatre. In 2020 he is video designing the world premiere of Hamlet 911 by Anne-Marie MacDonald at the Stratford Festival directed by Alisa Palmer. Career highlights to date include: his award-winning internationally screened short film C’est Moi about the history of Marie-Josèphe Angélique, working with Marie Clements on her feature film Red Snow released in 2019, developing a documentary about his mixed heritage entitled Mixed↑ and a new devised collective about Canadian singer Portia White supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the National Ballet of Canada’s Residency Programme. His photography has been published in Harper’s Bazaar UK, Amina Magazine (Paris) and was used in the design for Canadian Opera Company’s 2018 world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s “Hadrian”.
Sandi Becker – STAGE MANAGER
Selected credits include: This London Life (Grand Theatre), Every Brilliant Thing (Festival Players), The Black Drum (Deaf Culture Centre/Soulpepper), Torn Through Time (MTYP), Space Opera Zero (Eldritch Theatre), Romeo and Juliet/Midsummer Nights Dream (Canadian Stage), Beneath the Ice (Persephone Theatre), Silence (Grand Theatre/NAC), King Lear/Twelfth Night (Canadian Stage), The Harrowing of Brimstone McReedy (Eldritch Theatre), Birds of a Feather (Roseneath Theatre), The Taming of the Shrew (Driftwood Theatre), Frankenstein’s Boy (Eldritch Theatre), Ultrasound (Cahoots/Theatre Passe Muraille).
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