The critical response to The Africa Trilogy

•July 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“I was emotionally ransacked and enchanted by the Africa Trilogy. This play should travel far and wide” – Avril Benoit, Médecins Sans Frontières, Canada

The Africa Trilogy(l-r) Maev Beaty, Trey Lyford, Dorothy Atabong, Milton Barnes, Araya Mengesha in Glo

The Huffington Post:

“Volcano Theatre had a clever idea: to bring the work of three playwrights (German, Kenyan, American) together to explore the relationship between Africa and The West. Each was stunning”

“smart, irreverent, challenging and brilliantly directed and acted.”

The Toronto Sun:

“in a world where it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness,  Volcano Theatre lights three”

FIVE STARS (out of five)

Toronto Star:

“A Substantial Achievement”

great work throughout from the creative team responsible for sets, costumes, lighting,sound and video. Production values for all three plays are top-notch”

Shine Your Eye

Dienye Waboso in Shine Your Eye

Eye Weekly:

“Manson wonderfully integrates video, movement and hip-hop in an eye-opening tale about how the modern world has impacted Africa.”

“Wainaina is one of those rare playwrights who can give the colloquial language the sound of poetry.”

Toronto Star:

“Tight, well-written and poetic, it is a play filled with heart”

FOUR STARS (out of four)


“Binyavanga Wainaina’s lyrical script moves forward with gusto, and is forcefully acted by its ensemble cast”

Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God

(l-r) Tony Nappo, Jane Spidell, Maev Beaty, Trey Lyford in Peggy Pickit Sees The Face of God

The Globe and Mail:

“director Liesl Tommy gets incredible performances out of her cast, as her production masterfully lurches back and forth between hilarity and dread. The staging is full of brilliant touches.

“Life is tragedy seen in close-up, comedy in the long shot, Charlie Chaplin said; Peggy Pickit allows us to see both at once.”

Toronto Star:

“cleverly written and cleverly directed… beautifully cast… powerful”

The National Post

a superbly rigorous production”

NOW Magazine:

“Director Liesl Tommy’s work with the four actors is razor sharp; the looping of word, physicality and emotion is a show in itself.”

Dorothy Atabong in Glo

The Huffington Post:

“took my breath away. It was by up-and-coming American playwright, Christina Anderson. Her work is going to be transforming stages around the world, count on it.”

The Toronto Star:

“oh so charismatic”

The Globe and Mail:

“a potent metaphor… dreamlike direction…”

The Torontoist:

“creative direction and a solid cast”

Trilogy dramaturg Weyni Mengesha and actor Dienye Wasobo on Late Night in the Bedroom

•July 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Schimmelpfennig to present new work at The Wrecking Ball

•June 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

The Wrecking Ball was originally established by Volcano Artistic Director Ross Manson and playwright Jason Sherman. The 10th edition is presented by a coalition of 11 directors.

Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God playwright, Roland Schimmelpfennig, will be the first European playwright to present a work at The Wrecking Ball when Wrecking Ball 10: Gee! 20? hits the Theatre Centre on Monday night.

He joins four of Canada’s top playwrights: Bea Pizano, Melody Johnson, Sky Gilbert and Marjorie Chan, in tackling the here-and-now at the 1oth edition of the one-night-only show that put Canadian political theatre on the map.

Click here for more info

Pics of The Africa Trilogy onstage @ Luminato

•June 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Photos by John Lauener

inFORMING CONTENT announces all star cast of project leaders

•June 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

The George Ignatieff Theatre was packed last weekend for last weekend's Africa Trilogy Panel in conjunction with Luminato and U of T's Centre for Ethics. This coming weekend it plays home to the inFORMING CONTENT workshops led by Deborah Pearson and the allstar cast of artists below

inFORMING CONTENT: A workshop exploring immersive theatre and its relationship to ethics. Led by Deborah Pearson, co-director of award-winning Edinburgh venue Forest Fringe.

This weekend aspiring and emerging theatre artists from across Toronto will descend on the George Ignatieff Theatre to engage in a two-day workshop on ethical play creation. After listening to a number of lectures provided by University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics, participants will be broken into five groups to create original theatrical responses to the issues raised. Each group will be led by one of the five boundary-pushing contemporary theatre artists listed below:

FREE EVENT June 19: 10am – 1pm
A series of brief “ethics talks” on a range of topics from post-graduate ethicists from the University of Toronto. current . urgent . compelling.

FREE EVENT June 20: 7pm – 9pm
Workshop participants will respond to the “ethics talks” by creating site-specific theatre. immediate . experimental . intimate.

The Centre for Ethics: is located at 15 Devonshire Place, Toronto. (Click for map.)

Michael Rubenfeld is the Artistic Producer of the SummerWorks Theatre Festival. From 2001 – 2009, he was Co-Artistic Director of Absit Omen theatre company where his work included: Present Tense (writer), Spain (writer, director), Essay (director), My Fellow Creatures (writer, director, Dora nomination for Outstanding New Play) and The Book of Judith (writer, co-creator with Sarah Stanley). Michael graduated from National Theatre School in 2001.

Claire Calnan is a Toronto-based theatre artist and a graduate of Studio 58 in Vancouver.  A performer and theatre-maker, she was voted one of the Top Ten Theatre Artists of 2009 by NOW Magazine. With the help of a Chalmers Professional Development Grant she will be studying traditional forms of theatre in Japan this summer.

Susanna Hood is a choreographer, performer, director and teacher working at the intersection of dance and sound. She is the recipient of various awards including the 1998 K.M. Hunter Emerging Artists Award in Dance, the 2006 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for her solo show She’s gone away and, most recently, the 2008 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.

Ravi Jain is Artistic Director of Why Not Theatre and an  actor, director and producer in Toronto and internationally.  Most recently co-created I’m So Close… and SPENT (3 Dora nominations).  Ravi was the recipient of the Ken MacDougall award for Emerging Director and is currently assisting Jennifer Tarver on George F. Walker’s King of Thieves at Stratford.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu was assistant director of Shine Your Eye, the first play in The Africa Trilogy. Other theatres include: African Theatre Ensemble (Softown); Obsidian Theatre (Toast, Mussorgsky Project); SummerWorks (Keen); Alumnae Theatre (27 Weeks, New Ideas Festival); Hart House Theatre (For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, Stephen and Mr. Wilde). Apprentice Director for Obsidian Theatre’s 2008‐09 season, and graduate of York University’s theatre program.

Click here to read inFORMING CONTENT workshop leader Deborah Pearson’s thoughts on the goals and questions that inform this project.

The Africa Trilogy opens tonight!

•June 15, 2010 • 1 Comment

Milton Barnes and Dienye Waboso in Shine Your Eye by Binyavanga Wainaina directed by Ross Manson

(l-r) Jane Spidell, Trey Lyford, Maev Beaty, and Tony Nappo in Peggy Picket Sees the Face of God by Roland Schimmelpfennig directed by Liesl Tommy

(l-r) Maev Beaty, Muoi Nene, Araya Mengesha, Dorothy Atabong, Trey Lyford and Milton Barnes in Glo by Christina Anderson directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo

Photos by John Lauener

3 years in the making, 3 plays, 3 playwrights, 3 directors, 1 dramaturge, 3 assistant directors, 4 stage managers, 11 actors, 2 composers, 3 video designers, 2 production managers, 2 rehearsal halls, 6 weeks of rehearsals, one week of tech, 500+ cues.

The Africa Trilogy has its World Premiere in The Fleck Theatre at Harbourfront Centre tonight.

African issues and the challenge of artistic response: A panel discussion

•June 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

To what extent can art be a force for change? Should it be? Are some artworks more or less useful than others in such a context?

Binyavanga Wainaina, playwright of The Africa Trilogy’s Shine Your Eye and Director of the Chinua Achebe Centre for African Literature at Bard College, esteemed author and scholar Ngugi wa Thiong’o and James Orbinski, writer, doctor, and former head of the Nobel-prize winning Médecins Sans Frontières, discuss African issues and the place of artistic response in an arena more often dominated by international development discourse.

Sunday, June 13; 7pm

George Ignatieff Theatre
Trinity College, Larkin Building (NW corner)
15 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON M5S 1H8