By Jasminee Sahoye
He can relate to stigma associated with being Black and so too are many others. But for Actor and Playwright, Darren Anthony, the recent anniversary of the Danzig shooting in Scarborough and the shooting death of U.S teen, Trayvon Martin’s court case, sharing Secrets of a Black Boy, a play, to the community is timely.
He and his cast are set to share what is described as a concert, party and play all in one, when Secrets of a Black Boy takes to the stage in Toronto this Saturday, July 27 for two matinee shows at the Daniels Spectrum Theatre at 585 Dundas Street East.
The complexities of the lives of black male youth in Toronto often go uncovered in mainstream theatre productions and media, leaving many voices silenced and unheard. The faces of black males are most often attached to negative stories and headlines, Anthony adds. “While the ‘who and what’ have been covered and discussed many times before, Secrets aims to share the ‘why’ behind these headlines and conversations.”
He says the play is not only for black people. “It’s for everyone. We’re all the same, we may just have different skin tones, but at the end of the day we’re all individuals that have our vulnerabilities and we’re opening up and sharing those vulnerabilities,” Anthony tells The Camera.
“For the first time, Secrets of a Black Boy will be hosting a Q&A discussion to follow its matinee show – Sharing Our Secrets – a community forum that will look at how the themes of the play are connected to what’s currently happening in the streets. The conversation is geared to reaching the youth that need to hear this most, by creating a space for them to not only express their anger and frustrations but to also address solutions,” Anthony’s media coordinator states in a press release.
A number of community organizations and youth advocates have been invited to the discussion and Anthony hopes that at the end of the forum, solutions to problems discussed will be implemented into the various programs that serves the community.
The play is very frank with an open discussion, says the playwright. “It’s about five black men who are talking about issues and I think when you leave the show, it will spark conversations about certain issues. It will break down a few walls. Black men tend to put up a wall and be tough…. not to talk about your feeling and if you talk about your feelings, you’re labelled ….”
The stories are set against the backdrop of the displacement of families in Regent Park. Secrets of a
Black Boy promises to provide poignant insights into black, male culture and no subject is taboo
from interracial dating, commitment phobia, gun violence, sexuality and abuse.
Anthony started writing the play in 2003. In 2009 he had sold out performances to mostly inner-city high school youth at The Music Hall. Audiences resonated with the elements of hip-hop, humor and revelation. The positive response led to three city-wide school tours, performing excerpts from the play. It then moved to Brooklyn, New York at Act Now’s New Voices in Theatres series in 2012. After the show in Toronto, the cast will hold a closing show for North Carolina’s National Black theatre Festival.
The play is directed by Kimahli Powell, with writing contributions by Executive Producer and Dramaturge, Trey Anthony of De kink in my hair.