About BTW

Mission

Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) is Canada’s longest running theatre company dedicated to the works of Black and diasporic communities. BTW’s mission is to promote and produce outstanding theatre that educates, entertains and inspires. The company strives to create greater cross-cultural understanding by challenging its audience and the status quo. Expanding the representation of Black Canadian artists, BTW bridges cultural divides – uniting hearts, minds and communities.

Artistic Goals

The company’s artistic policy is to primarily program plays by Afro-Canadian playwrights, however plays are selected firstly on their artistic merit. While BTW continues to attract a diverse audience, plays are selected for their relevance to Black society and culture. This is in answer to the growing need amongst Black communities to see themselves reflected in the stories they watch and to further answer the need for general audiences to better understand and participate in the varied aspects of Black culture. 

What we do

Black Theatre Workshop is a ground-breaking theatre company committed to showcasing and fostering Black Canadian artists, inspiring dialogue and broadening understanding across the country. Our activities include: 

Mainstages

Every season, Black Theatre Workshop produces plays for the general public in one of Montreal’s established theatre venues which we call mainstage productions. These plays can be anything from classics of the African-American theatre cannon to new plays written by Black Canadian playwrights. The topics range from contemporary Black life to historical dramas set in Canada, the United States, the African continent or the Caribbean. Our goal is to present the great diversity of what it means to be Black all the while reflecting on the legacy of the past and expressing our aspirations for the future.

School Tour

School Tours

We also have a touring show every year that visits schools across the Montreal region during Black History Month. These shows are created to appeal to young audiences and vary season to season depending on the topics and themes of the play. The school tour always has public performances for the general public as adults are always entertained by these theatrical presentations which they can enjoy with the entire family.

Artist Mentorship Program

The Artist Mentorship Program is an annual program spearheaded by Black Theatre Workshop that aims to guide and facilitate emerging artists who are mainly Black or people of colour towards a sustainable professional career. The ensemble is always inclusive and diverse. The selected participants are mentored throughout the season by established artists and take part in a variety of workshops aimed at building their skill sets and confidence as artists. Many artists who have been through the program have gone on to successful careers or have received the necessary jumpstart to navigate the world of professional theatre, TV and film.

Vision Celebration Gala

Vision Celebration Gala is an annual fundraising event that takes place at the start of Black History Month to honour Black artists and community members who have made significant contributions to Canadian arts and the Montreal community. We also give a nod to young, up and coming Black artists who are awarded bursaries to encourage them in their path towards the arts and Black excellence. It is also a time when we recognize all that we’ve accomplished the previous year and what we have to look forward to in the coming year while saying thank you to the loyal community that supports us year after year.

Discovery Series

The Discovery Series consists of a public reading of a new work by a Black playwright. It’s a great way for our audience to “discover” a new work, ask questions and provide feedback as the playwright continues to develop their work in the hopes of having it produced in the future.

Recent Awards & Nominations

One METAs win (Montreal English Theatre Awards) in 2018/19 for ‘Outstanding Emerging Artist(s) – Production’ Nikita Bala – Production Management and 1 nomination for ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ Tim Rodrigues for How Black Mothers Say I Love You.

Four METAs wins in 2017/18 for ‘Outstanding PACT Production’ for The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (co-production with Neptune Theatre), ‘Outstanding Set Design’ Eo Sharp for The Mountaintop, ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actress’ Letitia Brookes in The Mountaintop, ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actor’ Tristan D. Lalla in The Mountaintop. The 11 META nominations also included ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actress’ Djennie Laguerre in Rendez-Vous With Home, ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ David Perreault Ninacs for The Mountaintop, ‘Outstanding Direction’ ahdri zhina mandiela for The Mountaintop, ‘Outstanding Direction’ Dayane Ntibarikure for Rendez-Vous With Home, ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre’ Karl-Henry Brézault: Live Musical Performance in Rendez-Vous With Home, ‘Outstanding Costume Design’ Eo Sharp for The Mountaintop.

Two METAs wins in 2016/17 for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre’ by SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble, ‘Outstanding PACT Production’ for Angélique by Lorena Gale (co-production with Tableau D’Hôte Theatre). The 10 META nominations also included ‘Outstanding Lead Performance – Actress’ Jenny Brizard, ‘Outstanding Direction’ Mike Payette, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Karl Graboshas, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Tristan D. Lalla, ‘Outstanding Supporting Performance’ Olivier Lamarche, ‘Outstanding Set Design’ Eo Sharp, ‘Outstanding Lighting Design’ David Perreault Ninacs, and ‘Outstanding Sound Design’ Sixtrum Percussion Ensemble.

Team history

Founding Members

Cynthia Allen (deceased)
Lydon Allen (deceased)
Vivan Allen
Clarence S. Bayne
Cynthia Bayne
Sterling Beckley
Ken Bruzal
Johnny Cayonne (deceased)
Anthony Coker
Jean Crawford
Harold Darmanie (deceased)
Lorris Elliot (deceased)
Kay Fermin
Jennifer Gibbs
Louis Gonzalez
Victor Hayes
Jeff Henry
Jimi Horsham
Anne-Marie Hull
Dianne Johnson
Habze Kharamat/Shedlack
Richard Martineau
Khadejha McCall
Mirian McLean
Percy McLeod
Jean Ortega
Ken Pilgrim
Olive Russell
Jackie Sherrif
Errol Sitahal
Joy Sitahal
Wayne Springer
Leon St-Martin (deceased)
Maureen Thomas
Herbert Webb

Honorary Lifetime Members & Patrons

Stanley Aleong
Clarence & Frances Bayne
Pauline Wong

Honorary Founding Members

Elizabeth Armory
Dwight Bacquie
Sonya Biddle
Violet Boldon
Malika Chandwani
Glen Clarke
Ken Davis
Ralph b. Davis
Laurencio Da Silva
Terry Donald
David Doze
David Edgecombe
Walter Elliott
Lorena Gale (deceased)
Steve Hawkins
Norma Heitner
Bertrand Henry (deceased)
Merle Howard
Donald Jordan
Paulette Armory Joseph
Leon Llewlyn
Sammy Maughn
Sheila Maughn
Jerry Metellus
Mireille Metelus
Arleigh Peterson
Anthony Sherwood
Errol Slue (deceased)
Peter Smith
Jacinta Thomas
Caroline Walwyn
Frances Ward

Artistic Directors

1970’s Clarence Bayne
1970’s Errol Sitahal
1970’s Terry Donald
1983-1984 Dwight Bacquie
1984-1985 Lorena Gale
1985-1988 Don Jordan
1988-1994 Winston Sutton
1994-1996 Fleurette Fernando
1997-1999 Nancy Delva
1999-2001 Kate Bligh
2001-2005 Rachael Van Fossen
2005-2011 Tyrone Benskin
2011-Present Quincy Armorer

Black Theatre Workshop is Canada’s longest running Black theatre company and is committed to reflecting Black culture and community by developing and providing visibility for Black Canadian artists. Black Theatre Workshop is an award-winning English-speaking theatre company based in Montreal, Quebec.