The Africa Trilogy 

The Story

The Africa Trilogy is an international trilogy of plays examining the relationship between Africa and the West from three distinct points of view.

The current relationship between Africa and the West is dominated by incomplete stories, hidden truths, hidden agendas, and over-simplification. The Africa Trilogy asks questions that explore the human reality of a complex global relationship.

The trilogy is being produced by the international award-winning company Volcano, based in Toronto, with a sister organization in Philadelphia. Our core creative team of 3 writers and 3 directors comes from 3 regions: Africa, Europe and North America.

Joining them is a team of 11 performers and a production staff hailing from Canada, Cameroon, Germany, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Rwanda, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, UK, USA and Zimbabwe.

Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, is presenting the world premiere of The Africa Trilogy in June 2010 at Harbourfront’s Fleck Theatre, Toronto.

Why?

It is crucial that the information we use when we look at Africa is not limited to the news – usually the bad news. We need to engage with Africa through our imaginations as well, and with a deeper sense of what is true. In doing this, Volcano’s Africa Trilogy opens a world of possibility. It’s a tremendous idea.

– James Orbinski, the President of the International Council of Médecins Sans Frontières, leading that organization to its 1999 Nobel Prize.

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

When we reject the single story, when we realize there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian Novelist and winner of the Orange Prize.

How do we look at one another? What information is getting through? Is it the information we need?

The Africa Trilogy aims to give our audiences access to a kind of information that cannot be gained through any other medium. Science, analysis, politics, even journalism simply stand mute in the face of the complexity of human affairs. Yet such is the subject matter of The Africa Trilogy – the complexity of human relationship across continents.

In an era where we are truly interconnected to a degree unknown to any previous generation, understanding becomes increasingly important. People need to know the realities faced by others, the questions raised by our present moment, the consequences of being this interconnected. And therein lies the value of theatre, because theatre does complexity so well. With this particular project, our goal is not to explain – our goal is to reveal. – Ross Manson


The Team

Binyavanga Wainaina is the winner of the 2002 Caine prize for African literature, and the founding editor of Kenya’s only literary journal, Kwani. He is one of the most important literary figures of his generation in Central Africa.

Roland Schimmelpfennig is the winner of the 2002 Vienna Nestroy Prize, and the Schiller-Gedachtnis Prize (awarded yearly in Germany for an outstanding literary contribution by a young dramatist). He is one of the most prolific and heralded young dramatists in Europe.

Christina Anderson was identified by American Theatre magazine as one of only fifteen US artists under 30 “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come.”

Josette Bushell-Mingo was recently awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work in theatre in the UK. She is the founder of PUSH, an organisation set up for the promotion and development of Black British Theatre, and currently runs the Tyst Teater in Sweden.

Liesl Tommy grew up in a township in Cape Town, South Africa. She studied at Oxford and the Claire Davidson Drama Centre in London, then earned her MFA from Trinity Rep Conservatory in the USA. She has been hailed as “eccentrically imaginative” by the New York Post, and a “standout” by the New York Times.

Ross Manson is a Dora and KM Hunter award-winning theatre director based in Toronto, whose work won the 2006 “Best of Edinburgh” prize at the world’s largest theatre festival. His international award-winning company, Volcano, has been identified by NOW magazine as the “best independent theatre company in Toronto”.


Press


Milestones

November 2007: Project Launch at The Gladstone Hotel.

December 2008: First script development workshop for all 3 plays, Lower Ossington Theatre

May 2009: Script development workshops for GLO by Christina Anderson and Peggy Picket Sees the Face of God by Roland Schimmelpfennig, Lower Ossiington Theatre

July 2009: Script development workshop for Shine Your Eye by Binyavanga Wainaina, Pia Bouman’s School for Ballet

February 2010: Design and script workshops, Elgin Theatre Studios

April-May 2010: Final rehearsals, Elgin Theatre Studios

June 2010: Premiere season at Luminato, Fleck Dance Theatre


Awards and Nominations

2011 Dora Award Nominee (General Theatre Division) for: 

Outstanding Production: The Africa Trilogy

Outstanding Choreography: Teddy Masuku/Heidi Strauss, Shine Your Eye – The Africa Trilogy

Outstanding New Play: Roland Schimmelpfenning, Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God, The Africa Trilogy 


Partners

Volcano’s The Africa Trilogy was commissioned by Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity; and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Major Project Supporters: BMO Financial Group, Metcalf Foundation, K.M. Hunter Foundation, Fleck Family Foundation, J.P. Bickell Foundation, George Lunan Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, David Fountain, Scott Griffin, Kish Kapoor.

Project Partners: Theatre Passe Muraille (In-Progress Workshop Partner), Performance Space 122, (Planning Partner), University Toronto Centre for Ethics (Community Partner), Obsidian Theatre. Supported by the Goethe Institut.

Project Partners: Theatre Passe Muraille (In-Progress Workshop Partner), Performance Space 122, (Planning Partner), University Toronto Centre for Ethics (Community Partner), Obsidian Theatre. Supported by the Goethe Institut.