SECRETS OF A BLACK BOY is a brutally honest dramedy that gives voice to five young black men from Toronto as they come together for one last domino game at their local community centre before its permanent closure - a devastating result of the neighbourhood's revitalization project. With thousands of people already displaced, the ongoing dismantling of the community serves as a constant reminder that the only home many youth have ever known is literally being ripped apart with questionable explanation and rationale.
Through a series of compelling monologues and authentic narratives mixed with musical interludes, our story critically explores the underlying effects of common stereotypes faced by racialized men and delves into several controversial issues including police brutality and injustice, mental health, domestic abuse, infidelity, inter-racial dating, and sexuality.
In 2007, when I was first asked to work on Secrets of a Black Boy, I was handed a ten page script that had a lot of potential but wanted to grow. Working with Darren, we built a world that highlighted the lived experiences of black men. We mounted our first production with a crew of actors new to theatre and many high expectations following a successful run of the extremely popular ‘Da Kink in My Hair. While we were nervous, we knew we had a piece of art that spoke from the heart and shone a spotlight on the displacement of our communities. We also had the audacity to put six black men on stage and have them bare their souls sharing intimate, personal stories.
Ten years later, I’m grateful to continue to work with this exceptional team of artists - many of whom have been there from the beginning. As we revisit Secrets after several tours, Darren’s work is more urgent than ever, particularly in light of the many challenges we continue to experience in our society today. And so, we use the power of the theatre to continue speaking out and taking a stand in the face of injustice, bringing our narratives forward and letting our voices be heard.
- Kimahli Powell
The past year has been extremely alarming for the black community, not only in the US but right here in Toronto. The many unwarranted attacks on black bodies have become an increased topic of discussion and our collective response is too often distorted by the major media news cycles. So rather than allow frequent misrepresentations of our experiences to persist, we take this opportunity to give you our narratives. I want Secrets of a Black Boy to spark uncomfortable, healthy dialogue that can inspire a conscious shift and contribute to making our society a better one for future generations.
As a writer, I aim to shed light on subjects often considered taboo within the black community. I place emphasis on the nuances of my world as I have come to understand them, through honest narratives that reflect our collective growth and evolution. Secrets is just that - a representation of the many facets of black men that extend beyond the headlines, and I wrote it because we are more than the one-dimensional stereotypes so often presented in the mainstream and pop culture. It has now grown into something much bigger - bigger than just me.
- Darren Anthony
Darren Anthony and Kimahli Powell
Gavin Bradley, Kimahli Powell,
Troy Crossfield, Quinn Marie,
Mark Ruglass, Sammy Tezbta,
and David Nichols
Original music composed by Gavin Bradley
Vocals by D.Shon Henderson,
Steve Foster and Troy Crossfield
Cello by Kevin Fox
Violin by Karen Graves
Scratching by DJ O-nonymous
Voiceovers by Richard Collier