BLACK AND FREE: THEATRE AND CONVERSATION
PANELIST AND PERFORMER BIOS
Quincy Armorer has been working in professional theatre for over 25 years. As an actor, he has worked at the Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre, Centaur Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, Geordie Theatre, Repercussion Theatre, Imago Theatre, 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. A 6-time nominee at the Montreal English Theatre Awards, Quincy is an Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University, Associate Artist of the English Section at the National Theatre School of Canada and has been Artistic Director of Black Theatre Workshop since 2011.
Djanet Sears is a playwright, a director, and an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Drama Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. Her work has graced such stages as the National Arts Centre, Mirvish Productions, Tarragon Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, Centaur Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, the Public Theatre, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Crossroads Theatre, The Grand Theatre, St. Louis Black Repertory, Canadian Stage, Bard on the Beach, and Factory Theatre. Her best known plays, Harlem Duet and The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, have been widely published and translated. She has received several honours for her work including the coveted Governor General’s Literary Award, a Canadian Screenwriting Award, the Chalmers Canadian Play Award, Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award and a Gold Prize at the International Radio Festival of New York. She is a founding member of the Obsidian Theatre Company, and the editor of two anthologies: Testifyin’: Contemporary African Canadian Drama, Vols. I & II.
Born in Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago, Rawle Gibbons is a playwright, director and educator. He has taught at the School of Drama, Jamaica, with Mr. Dennis Scott and at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, as the founding coordinator of the Centre for Creative and Festival Arts. His directing/devising credits include CLR James’s ‘The Black Jacobins’ (1976), ‘Temple in the Sea’ (1995), ‘Shango, Tales of the Orisha (1996)’, Derek Walcott’s ‘Drums and Colours’ (1998) and ‘Nation Dance – the Pilgrimage, (2012). He has published two volumes of his plays: ‘A Calypso Trilogy’ (1999), ‘Love Trilogy’ (2012).
Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae is an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo with expertise in race, gender and performance. She is also an artist who works in theatre, literature and music and who has performed in Canada, France, Jamaica and South Africa. She is the principal investigator of the Black And Free Research-Creation Project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the University of Waterloo. Her scholarship has been published in journals including Theatre Research International and Girlhood Studies and books including bestseller Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (2020). Her music albums are: Fire Woman (2020); Bloom (2009) and Free Dome: South Africa (2001); and her plays are What We Deserve (2020), No Knowledge College (2005); and Stuck (2001). She has commentated for outlets including The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, Noisey, BBN, CTV, CBC and BBC.
Uche Ama is a black queer performer born on the indigenous land called Tkaronto. She is passionate about cathartic art that intrigues and makes you ask questions. A 2019 Dora nominated graduate of the Music Theatre Performance program at St Clair College and an alumni of ‘Broadway Theatre Project’, her previous performances include 21 Black Futures (Obsidian Theatre),The Negroes Are Congregating (Piece Of Mine Arts) & Obeah Opera (Asah Productions).
isi bhakhomen (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, Afro-Latinx artist with Peruvian and Nigerian ancestry. Within the realm of theatre they are committed to exploring the roles of playwright, director, and actor. Through storytelling they are determined to build worlds that give Black children the freedom to breathe. In addition, they recently graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada’s acting program.
Kamana Ntibarikure is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and content creator with an undying love for musicals. She has headlined the Just for Laughs Festival in the lead role of Sister Mary Clarence from the musical Sister Act. She also curated the 8th edition of the Next Wave Festival, showcasing new musical theatre. Her recent directing credits include Manman La Mer (Théâtre Catapulte) which was chosen to represent Canada in Abidjan for the 11th edition of the MASA (Marché des Arts du Spectacle d’Abidjan), Rendez-Vous with Home (Black Theatre Workshop) and the inaugural reading of the French translation of the play Angélique (Black Theatre Workshop & Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui).
Chelsea Russell studied in the Acting Conservatory at York University. She has been working professionally as an actor in theatre, tv and film. Most recently she was featured alongside Jason Momoa in Apple TV’S ‘See‘ Season 2, singing The Rolling Stone’s ‘Ruby Tuesday. She is pleased to have starred in “Rebirth of the Afronauts” a part of the 21 Black Futures project for CBC Gem. She can also be seen in “Tiny Pretty Things” on Netflix.
As far as theatre, Chelsea received a leading role at Canadian Stage 2021 for the powerful play Fairview, which due to the pandemic is tentatively being mounted. Another notable performance was her role as Saint Monica at Obsidian Theatre in Judas Noir , which went up at Crow’s Theatre. She is passionate about working in afro-centric theatre tv and film especially in these trying times. She also works in music and is currently working on an indie music project, her debut EP, focused in the alternative R&B genre. She is currently represented by Alix Kazman at Fountainhead Talent Agency.
You can learn more about her artistic journey through her Instagram page, follow her at @comeherechels.