Rhoma Spencer nominated for a Dora award

By Stephen Weir

The annual Dora Mavor Moore Award is the oldest and largest

Rhoma Spencer

grouping of prizes honouring the very best in theatre, dance, and opera in Toronto. This year, the 42nd for the Awards, there are 46 different award categories up for grabs!

The late Dora Mavor Moore was born in Scotland in 1888 and at the age of 8 came to Toronto. She devoted her long life to creating theatre and theatre companies in her new home.  A recipient of many awards and honours, Dora Mavor Moore was truly one of the key founders of professional theatre in Canada and a fitting namesake for Toronto’s professional theatre awards.

It is a very big deal. Winning a prestigious Dora is a huge career accomplishment for those working in the theatre industry. 

When the awards are handed out on Saturday September 19th at the downtown Winter Garden Theatre Centre, the eyes of the community will be on Trinidadian Canadian Actor, Play Creator, Director, and Comedian Rhoma Spencer. She is up for the Outstanding Performance by an Individual Prize for her role in the play The House of Bernarda Alba. Also nominated is fellow The House of Bernarda Alba actor Liz Der.

Written in Spanish back in 1936 by Federico Garcia Lorca, the play was mounted in English by the Aluna Theatre in April of this year.

The play centers on Bernarda Alba, 60-year-old owner of a rich estate in Spain during a dark period in life. Her husband has just died, and she orders her five daughters to follow tradition and go into mourning for the next seven years.

Dora Awards

The iron fisted Bernarda imposes a domestic lockdown that cuts her five daughters off from the world outside their home; but her daughters are women, not children, each hunger for her own place in the world and a life beyond the estate. The house domestic Poncia must act as the go-between between mother and the rebellious daughters. Modernity and tradition clash, showing the destructive nature of decaying traditions.

“I played the role of Poncia.” Rhoma Spencer told the Caribbean Camera. “This English version did not get modernized at all. What I think was the major shifts (between the Spanish and English version) were around language and nuances in translation. In an effort of course to keep casting size down, the Director Soheil Parsa made some ingenious choices and I think that was what made this English translation rock!”

Audiences in April were indeed blown away by the play, especially Spencer’s performance. Theatre goers continue to call for the play to be given a second run, Rhoma Spencer cautions them to not hold their breath.

“We ran for three weeks at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (in downtown Toronto) and no, there is talk about any remount,” she continued. “Remounting a play is not as easy as 1-2-3.”