The Full Story
WHO WE ARE
b current Performing Arts splashed onto the scene in 1991, when ahdri zhina mandiela founded the company in Toronto. Since inception, b current has developed scores of internationally celebrated artists and their works, with a focus always on engaging the community and creating space for diverse voices to be heard.
WHAT WE DO
b current Performing Arts is a hotbed for culturally-rooted theatre development in Toronto. Originally founded as a place for Black artists to create, nurture, and present their new works, our company has grown to support artists from all diasporas. Over three decades, we have created space for intersectional voices to be heard, always with a focus on engaging the communities from which our stories emerge. As a result, these communities trust our company and respect the work that we do. Whether our audiences identify with our work through ethnic experience, social values, or political awareness, these groups are loyal to our programming because they recognize the high level of cultural authenticity and integrity we foster in our artists and their works.
We develop new and old works by intersectional artists with specific emphasis radical content and form.
We produce daring theatre creations and since inception we’ve mounted over a dozen main stage plays, and 100+ other public performances.
b current is a Toronto-based theatre company engaged in developing new works by diverse artists rooted in the cultural, social, and political experiences of the Canadian and international Black and Brown Diaspora. Our dramaturgy, workshops, public readings, performances, and in-depth training programs culminate in daring and groundbreaking theatre creations.
We nurture high calibre artists and new theatre works. We connect audiences to stories that reflect their lived experience in an inclusive Canada. We are a continuing resource for the artists whom we engage “from the page to the stage”. We are a force in the proliferation of culturally diverse Canadian theatre by fostering relationships between our small arts company, larger theatre companies, and non-theatre organizations.
We nurture high calibre artists and new theatre works. We connect audiences to stories that reflect their lived experience in an inclusive Canada. We are a continuing resource for the artists we engage with from the page to the stage. We are a force in the proliferation of culturally diverse Canadian theatre by fostering relationships between our small arts company, larger theatre companies, and non-theatre organizations.
Our artistic vision is to create a company in which work by and about the Black and Brown diaspora is cultivated, fostered and flourishes.
This vision is met through a multi-tiered process of inclusion. First, we consider all the ways in which various barriers keep racialized artists and their work from being mentored and produced. We ask ourselves:
• What are the reasons this work is not propagated in ‘mainstream’ theatre?
• Who determines what is ‘mainstream’ and can we challenge this? What financial burdens keep racialized artists from creating work?
• What social pressures keep racialized artists from creating work?
Then we consider ways in which we can liberate ourselves from those structures to create a safe place to explore and create. We ask ourselves:
• How can we work in non-capitalist ways to ensure fair exchange of labour?
• How can we partner with community to make projects financially feasible?
• How can we outreach to racialized artists to cultivate a relationship of trust?
• What changes can we make to the structure of our company to decolonize our artistic practice?
• Whose standards of ‘artistic excellence’ are being centered and how can we challenge ourselves to hold with respect all the ways in which racialized communities have told stories for centuries?
After these considerations, we aim towards a progressive creative space which:
• Prioritizes the work of racialized artist
• Schedules their season, rehearsals, meetings based on mutual respect of staff, cast and co-producer needs such as childcare, financial and social obligations
• The many ways in which racialized communities tell stories is respected and revered
• The many ways in which racialized communities share space, outreach to one another and create symbiotic relationships are respected and revered
• We challenge ‘mainstream’ notions of theatre creation and Eurocentric storytelling
• We challenge ‘mainstream’ notions of outreach and create sincere, ongoing and mutually beneficial engagement This vision is reflected through our programming by:
• Offering in-depth training and mentorship to emerging artists from the Black and Brown diaspora
• Curating a season which aggressively challenges Eurocentric storytelling through its subject matter, the trajectory of its storyline and its innovative structure
• Creating ongoing opportunities to engage with community for mutually beneficial partnerships page 7 of 26 This multitiered vision is a joint process curated, fostered and executed in partnership with the Artistic Director, Executive Director, the Board of Directors, associated artists and our community partners.