February is Black History Month and the Toronto theatre community has a number of shows to help celebrate and educate. There is something for everyone – from an all-black Comedy Revue at Yuk Yuk’s to a Caribbean storytelling festival for all ages. Check out these live theatre shows you’ll be sure to love!
A New Hope by Shelley Hamilton and Stan Christie (Shelley Hamilton Productions). Hamilton performs her solo play about the first African-Canadian communities in Canada in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Arts Fund. Opens Feb 5 and runs to Feb 26. $25. ING Direct Café, 221 Yonge. 416-826-6855.
Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori (Acting Up Stage Company/Obsidian Theatre). A black maid and the son of her Jewish employer struggle with extraordinary life changes in this musical. Previews Jan 21-22. Opens Jan 25 and runs to Feb 12. $32-$45. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley. 416-368-3110, actingupstage.com.
Diary of Black Men – How Do You Love A Black Woman? by Houstonian Thomas Meloncon (Profile Entertainment). A choreopoem that is the longest touring and most successful stage play in Black theatre history, it contains provocative talk about Black men and their voice in the Human conversation – while addressing the issues of love, trust and black family values. Feb. 24 and 25 at 8pm, from $35. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Prince’s Blvd, CNE Grounds. 416-226-4477, profileent.ca.
Obeah Opera by Nicole Brooks (b current Performing Arts/Theatre Archipelago). Based on historical texts about the Salem witch trials, this opera tells the story of five women accused of abominable spiritual acts. Previews Feb 16-19. Opens Feb 22 and runs to Mar 4. $25, stu/srs $20. 918 Bathurst Cultural Centre, 918 Bathurst. 416-533-1500, bcurrent.ca.
Fleurette Africaine wind in the leaves collective presents a collection of poetry and dance narratives exploring identity. Feb 17 at 7:30 pm. $20, stu $15. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington. fleuretteafricainefebruary.eventbrite.com.
Mosaic Storytelling Festival (The Open Door East End Arts Collective). Sandra Whiting presents West African mythologies, folklore and traditional tales from the Caribbean for all ages. Feb 19 at 3 pm. Pwyc ($5 sugg). St David’s Anglican Church, 49 Donlands. 416-466-3142, stdavidstoronto.ca/mosaic/mosaic.html.
Nubian Disciples All Black Comedy Revue Yuk Yuk’s Downtown presents the monthly show w/ host Kenny Robinson and others. Feb 26 8:30 pm. $20. 224 Richmond W. 416-967-6425, yukyuks.com.
Power Up by Karen Burke. An annual weekend workshop for emerging artists and those simply interested in learning to sing gospel music. Participants will be coached by seasoned professionals and will sing together in the Power Up mass gospel choir in the finale concert. March 2-4. www.tmc.ca/powerup.
Voices of the Diaspora – The Book of Negroes by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Renowned Canadian writer Lawrence Hill joins The Nathaniel Dett Chorale for a multimedia presentation based on his award winning novel, The Book of Negroes. This concert will weave together excerpts read by Mr. Hill, with favourite folk, classical, spirituals and jazz selections by the Chorale and the Joe Sealy Quartet. Feb. 14, 8 p.m. Koerner Hall. http://performance.rcmusic.ca/event/nathaniel-dett-chorale-presentsbrvoices-diaspora-%E2%80%A6-book-negroes.
Tribute: A Moving History Of Canadian Blacks In Dance dance Immersion and Harbourfront NextSteps present a showcase of dance, film and spoken word paying homage to Len Gibson, Dindi Lidge, Zab Maboungou, Paul Pettiford and others. Feb 23-25. $27-$32, stu/srs $22-$27. Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.