By Stephen Weir
The set has been designed. The costumes are being decided on this week. Rehearsals begin right after the holiday break.
Toronto’s Obsidian Theatre is in full-speed-ahead mode for the February North American premiere of hang by the accomplished young Black British-born Londoner debbie tucker green. (no capital letters please).
Her 70-minute play, which has had a successful run in London, is set in the near future. A victim of a crime has a meeting in a dark tunnel with two “officials” who demand she decide how the criminal who has harmed her family should be executed! The audience never finds out what the crime was or who the officials really are –the police, government secret operators, or a private security firm?
“This is strong material, the playwright confronts it head on. She is poetic and the script is just so well crafted,” explains artistic director Philip Akin. “People who see hang will have to fill in and imagine (from their own experiences and fears) what horrendous things have happened and what new horrors are about to take place.”
Debbie Tucker Green is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director. She has been writing for the theatre for almost 20-years and most of her stage plays have been produced at the Royal Court Theatre and the Young Vic in London.
“She has written hang so that it could be set anywhere within the Empire. Nigeria. India. Canada,” said director Akin. “We are not going to do this with British accents, I don’t want the audience to get all tied up on the pronunciation of the Queen’s English. We are playing this straight.”
tucker green will not be attending the opening but her presence will be felt in the casting of the play. Her script requirements call for the principal actress to be Black.
That is hardly a problem for Obsidian since the company is Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre group. Obsidian describes itself as being “passionately dedicated to the exploration, development, and production of the Black voice.” It focuses primarily on the works of acclaimed Black playwrights.
The three actors who are appearing in hang are well known in theatre, TV and film. Sarah Afful in the principal role, is currently an actor at Stratford and has been seen in a number of films and TV shows including Eureka, Smallville, Caprica, The Perfect Score, American Dreams, as well as numerous commercials.
Vladimir Alexis is a Montreal-based actor and dancer who is best known for his roles in X-men: Apocalypse, Saving Hope, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Musical and Godspell.
Toronto’s Zoe Doyle has had numerous theatre roles across North America but is most recognized for his appearance with Forest Whitaker and Jude Law in the cult midnight movie classic Repo Men.
“We are doing it all upstairs at the Berkeley Theatre, on Berkeley Street (Parliament/Front Streets) and we run from February 6th to the 25th,”said Akin.
“ We are already selling tickets at our website. I say that only because what always happens with our plays is that as word-of-mouth kick in, people find, especially on the last days of the run, that the 150-seat theatre is all sold out.
“And the tickets make great Christmas presents.”