Black Boys by Saga Collectif (Virgilia Griffith, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah M’Carthy, Thomas Antony Olajide, and Jonathan Seinen) uncovers the complex dynamics of the queer Black experience. Text, movement, and design portray the rhythm and vulnerability of three very different Black individuals who seek a deeper understanding of themselves, each other, and of how they encounter the world. As they explore their unique identities, their performances rigorously interrogate and playfully subvert the ways in which gender, sexuality, and race are read and performed.
Theatrical and intimate, Black Boys weaves together the ensemble’s own personal stories in search of an integrated self and a radical imagination while shining a light on new possibilities for young Black queer people.
About the authors
Stephen Jackman-Torkoff is a lover, a wandering poet, and a disco dancer. They were born in Toronto and raised in foster care in Richmond Hill. Stephen has acted in several productions across Canada including Angels in America, Botticelli in the Fire / Sunday in Sodom, and The Glass Menagerie. Stephen is the resident poet with the Queer Songbook Orchestra and toured with them in October 2018 to ten cities across Canada. This year they will be working on a multidisciplinary solo piece called Die Phantasie. After spending a lot of time in institutions, Stephen is now immersing themself in creation and collaboration beyond institutional walls.
Tawiah M’Carthy is an Akuapem Larteh, Ghanaian-born, theatre artist and professional. He is a founding member of Blue Bird Theatre Collective and Saga Collectif. Tawiah’s playwright/creator/performer credits include The Kente Cloth, Obaaberima (2013 Dora Award winner for Best Production), and Maanomaa, My Brother. He was a Metcalf Artistic Director Intern and programming curator for the 2019/20 Festival of Ideas and Creation at Canadian Stage. He has worked with various arts organizations across the country including Obsidian Theatre, Shaw Festival Theatre, Stratford Festival, Factory Theatre, the National Arts Centre, the Cultch, and Buddies in Bad Times. Tawiah is a Dora Award-nominated playwright and performer. He trained at York University and is currently the Artist Outreach and Development Coordinator at Canadian Stage. He lives in Toronto.
Thomas Antony Olajide is a stage and screen actor from Vancouver, BC. Some of his leading film credits include Inhuman Condition, Mariner, White Lie, and Nomades for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the 35th Prix Gémeaux. Some theatre credits include Black Boys, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hamlet, and King Lear (for which he received Stratford Festival’s Peter Donaldson award), Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale, Oliver!, And Slowly Beauty, The Whipping Man, and Ruined. He is a Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee as well as a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, the Stratford Birmingham Conservatory, and the Canadian Film Centre.
Virgillia Griffith is a Toronto-based actor and movement artist. Winner of the META Emerging Artist Award for Gas Girls by Donna Michelle St. Bernard. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance for Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears. She was also a Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Outstanding Female in an Independent Theatre Division for her performance of Honesty directed by Jordan Tannahill and for Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) by Jeff Ho. Selected credits include: Guarded Girls, Betrayal, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Wedding Party, Other Side of the Game, da ’Kink in my hair, How We Are, and Up the Garden Path. She is a graduate of Ryerson University with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance: Acting.
Jonathan Seinen is a founding member of Saga Collectif and Boys in Chairs Collective, co-artistic producer of Architect Theatre, and former artistic associate with lemonTree creations. In addition to directing Black Boys, he directed Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), which was nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding Direction, co-created and performed in Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show and Like There’s No Tomorrow, and was Assistant Director for Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival. He co-created Charisma Furs with Mx. Sly, which was published by Playwrights Canada Press in Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts. A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, he recently completed his MFA in Theatre Directing at Columbia University in New York City, where he directed Cabaret, Our Town, and The Seagull, and was Assistant Director to Anne Bogart on Tristan Und Isolde at the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka. He is a current winner of the Canada Council for the Arts John Hirsch Prize, and is now an Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York.
“Black Boys suggests that conflicts don’t have to be smoothed over, but can be the beginning of creativity.”
J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail
“This is theatre at its very best.”
Willow White, alt.theatre
“This is an exceptional, powerful, and quite delightful piece of work.”
S. Bear Bergman, Mooney on Theatre