I had the great fortune to sit down and chat with the stars of Venus’ Daughter, a play put on by Obsidian Theatre. You may remember Obsidian Theatre from last year when I saw The Mountaintop. The show opens on February 18th and runs until February 28th at the Theatre Centre on Queen West. I got to ask the actors about the upcoming show and their thoughts on the remarkable Toronto theatre scene.
First, I sat down with Akosua Amo-Adem, an actress from Toronto. She graduated from York University’s theatre program in 2009 and has been performing in the city since then. She first got involved with Obsidian Theatre when they were workshopping the play, working through different versions of the script. I love going to see shows without knowing too much about them, just like how I try to avoid the back of books. I asked what she loved most about Venus’ Daughter and she told me it’s magical, things are unexpected and out of no where and she hopes that the audience allows themselves to surrender to it all. We also chatted about how supportive the Toronto theatre community is and how there is something always happening. It’s really amazing how much is happening in the city all the time, the theatre scene in Toronto is more than just Fringe.
Next had I the chance to speak to Meghan Swaby, who is not only performing in the show but she wrote Venus’ Daughter. Also from Toronto, she graduated from Windsor University in 2007. She came back to the city and joined b. current, which she considers her “training ground” – where she made great connections and found great mentors within the Toronto theatre community. Her first show was a one woman show called Hysteria and it was the moment that she found she could tell stories and that people wanted to hear them (you know that feeling, when people actually acknowledge your work, it’s really exciting!). She loves the agency that writing gives her, as an actor, you’re told the material that exists and you have to fit within it but if you can write, then you can create whatever you’d like. She began writing Venus’ Daughter about 3 years ago and it was in the summer that she decided that she actually wanted to perform in it. She loves opportunity to have the perspective of both the writer and actor, something people don’t normally get to experience.
And finally, I spoke with Kaleb Alexander, an actor from Toronto as well. All the cast members knew each other before coming together to work on Venus’ Daughter but it wasn’t actually how they all came together on this show, which just shows me that the theatre community is just like all other industries, everyone knows everyone. When asked what excited most about Venus’ Daughter, it was the opportunity to explore the black female form. People’s identities are shaped by so many factors and he is interested in how the play explores where strength comes from, as well as a person’s insecurities. He was also interested in how we compare to people of the past, how all experiences can be difficult but in so many different ways and how people are able to get through all the difficult things they have to endure. Speaking with Kaleb, I got even more excited about the play, I knew there was three actors so I assumed that there were three characters within the show, but in fact, he alone is playing 7 different characters, ranging from a ditzy child to a couple of doctors. Although it’s been a while (a long while) since I’ve been on stage, I can imagine how difficult it would be to be able to pay 7 distinct characters within one show.
I’m so glad Obsidian Theatre gave me the opportunity to speak to the cast prior to the show, it got me even more excited about the play. I promise to share with you more details about the play once I’ve seen it but in the meantime, tickets can be purchased through The Theatre Centre’s box office.