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Metachroma Theatre debuts with Shakespeare
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 6 septembre 2012

Courtesy photo

The Metachroma Company is an innovative multicultural company.

The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts will unveil the Metachroma Theatre and their production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” playing from Sept. 19 to 30.

The troupe breathes new life into the classic tragedy with a cast composed entirely of visible minorities.

However, Metachroma does not intend in the least for their performance to be about race and race alone. Instead, they hope to normalize the appearance of actors of colour in traditional plays.

“When we see an artist of colour in a classic play, it’s usually a statement. When will we be able to cast someone of colour without it being about race? This is an invitation to a discussion about what we see in theatre,” says Michael Payette, who plays the character of Lord Hastings. “Why haven’t we seen an Asian play Edward in “Richard III? We can do anything.”

Payette was born and raised in NDG, directing and producing his first play at the age of 16 for the Saidye Bronfman Centre (now the Segal Centre) Youth Institute, soon thereafter acting alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Holly Hunter in the 2003 film “Levity.” His work in bringing new Canadian theatrical works to light as co-founder of the Tableau D’Hôte Theatre Company was rewarded with a MECCA Revelation Artist of the Year award in 2006 while he was still a student in Concordia University’s theatre program. He went on to become the Black Theatre Workshop’s youngest director.

“At this point in my career, it’s really exciting to perform one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays,” says Payette, referring to the play’s length, substantial number of characters, and historical detail. “It’s the kind of challenge Metachroma Theatre was looking for… I think we meet it head-on.”

The company intends to host round table discussions about “race on stage” prior to certain performances of “Richard III.” “We want to know what (people) see, does it hurt their experience, enhance it, or not change it at all? We want to engage in a discussion, and we want it to be as exciting as possible for the people who share it with us.”

“Richard III” is Metachroma’s inaugural production, which the company has been preparing since their creation in 2010. According to their website, the company was formed when founding members Tamara Brown, Lucinda Davis, Mike Payette, and Warona Setshwaelo had “the shocking realization… that there is little to no opportunity for more than one or two actors of colour to share the stage at the same time.” The group officially formed with the addition of actors Quincy Armorer, Glenda Braganza, Julie Tamiko Manning, and Jamie Robinson.

The production also includes Stratford alumni Walter Borden (Lord Stanley), who has received a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal as well as a Governor General’s Award for his poetry.

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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