SJTC Explores Black History with We Were Here

Category: stage 146

Saint John poet and playwright Clyde A. Wray’s new work brings the lives of eight historic figures to the stage.


In the summer of 2020, local poet and playwright Clyde A. Wray became Saint John Theatre Company’s first ever Artist in Residence. During his tenure, Wray created a play based on the stories of several historic figures from the Black community of Saint John and beyond. The play, We Were Here, will be streamed February 25-27 as part of Black History Month. 

“I’ve often thought when looking at portraits that were hung on the outside wall of Thandi Restaurant building on Canterbury Street, did only Caucasians help build Saint John? Is there not one person of color that is worthy of a portrait? Then come to find out there are those that are more than worthy,” said Wray. 

“Their stories just haven’t been told but they lay there hidden in some deep dark vault. Well, I believe it’s time to shine some light on these stories and these too which Saint John can be proud of.”

“I don’t think there is any production I’ve done or can foresee that is as important as this production.”

The play is a series of eight monologues that provide a snapshot into the live of Abraham Beverley Walker, the first Black lawyer in New Brunswick; Lena O’Ree, an activist, local radio show host and winner of the NB Human Rights Award; Dr. Constance A Timberlake, a Saint John born activist and professor; Cornelius Sparrow, a run-away slave turned leader and local businessman in Saint John; Ice Lady – Georgina Whetsel, a successful businesswoman, considered the wealthiest Black woman in North America at the turn of the century; Eldridge Eatman, aka ‘Speed’, the world sprint Champion in 1906 who also served in the British Army in WWI; Edward Mitchell Bannister, a prominent artist whose work is in many fine art galleries and museums to this day; and Josiah Hanson, a young slave who escaped and went on to open a vocational school in Ontario for fugitive slaves.

“I don’t think there is any production I’ve done or can foresee that is as important as this production,” said Wray. “There is an inherent responsibility and a weight that must be borne when bringing real historical characters to life. We as close as we can, must tell their truth and be faithful to their lives.” 

Streaming performances will be offered February 25-27, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are on sale now. Visit https://www.showtix4u.com to order.

 

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