Media: Being Black is a Journey

Tsholo is a Black trans man, with short buzzed cut hair and a beard. In the photo he is gazing at the camera, wearing a cold-tone pattern shirt.

 Tsholovisions Khalema | Director, 11:11

Toronto, ON — South Africans have a particular way of existing in the world like no other that surpasses apartheid and white supremacy. 

Being Black is a journey. Being South African and men of trans experience in Canada, is a unique experience. This is why 11:11 is special, it tells a unique story of resilience. This show is proof that Black queer stories each stand individually. Black queer identities are often consumed via an “oppression olympics”. But our shared pain is not meant for the white lens to generalize. We are more than those who tried to oppress us and we owe it to ourselves to share them our way, and in a way that honours our ancestors.

There is an abundance of stories that need to be told. There are more Black and queer storytellers and the world must witness them. They matter. The more I study the art of dramaturgy and directing, the more I hope for works like 11:11 to be created, supported and funded.

More of us exist. More trans-stories, more Black stories, more Black conversations need to exist, and they need to exist loudly.

I trained in two theatre schools across Canada. I had my first professional role in 1999, and since, I never got to work with Black teachers or Black directors. As Black creators, most of us are trained to assimilate into the euro-centric life and of being. Now, on my own I explore and investigate Black languages, Black coding, African languages, sounds, and Black stories– all things where theatre schools, educators, producers, directors failed us as students.

Today, I live a very free life as a trans person: I get to be cast in male roles and I get to be a director at the centre of a creative process. Everything I am able to accomplish in my life today stands on the history of other Black and trans folks who were not allowed that opportunity. We have to honour people who are not as privileged as we are. We have to remember that the first trans story wasn’t written a few years ago. We have always been around but we were not allowed to be loud.

What a privilege to be in the now and be trans. What an honour to be the “first” in 2021.

A multidisciplinary artist. Tsholovisions Khalema is a South African Transgender man born in the midst of apartheid and witnessed the fall of an era while assimilating to life in Canada. The last born in a Methodist household, growing up in the westernmost prairie provinces of Canada where he began his lifelong pursuit of learning the art of theatre and storytelling. An Actor, director and a self- taught film maker, his art practices aims to enhance the Black and Transgender voice(s) showing the many different diverse intersectionality of blackness. Visit

“I was perhaps blessed in my theatre experience in ways that other Black men (cis or trans) have not experienced. In 2015-16, the first iteration of 11:11 got published in an anthology, and someone actually said to me, ‘I think you are the first Black transman playwright to be published in Canada, possibly even in North America’I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that people have not been made aware of Black transmen playwrights. Remember that this was in 2016, so if I was the first, I shouldn’t have been the first. I think trans representation is not as diverse as it should be.”

~Samson Bonkeabantu Brown | Playwright & Performer, 11:11

February 10 – 13, 2021

11:11 by Samson Bonkeabantu Brown. a Theatre Passe Muraille digital production

Where the spirit world and the real-world meet, lies a world unapologetically crafted and performed by critically acclaimed trans identified artist, Samson Bonkeabantu Brown. 11:11 explores the other side of fear through the eyes of a young, Black transman struggling to understand the ancestral messages saturating his dreams.


Tickets are on sale now at TPM’s Pay-What-You-Can-Afford (PWYCA) model offers single tickets at different price points. The ticket prices this season are: $5, $25, and $50. All tickets are the same. In order to remove barriers in our pricing, we are offering three price points so that a wide range of audiences are able to attend our 20.21 Season. We encourage audiences to make their own choices about what they can afford in order to experience theatre. Those purchasing at the $50 price point will do so with the understanding that their ticket price is helping to subsidize the $5 ticket price, and in doing so, making theatre more accessible for others. 

Covid-19 Protocols

We are operating with the utmost caution and with the best health and safety knowledge we currently have in order to bring theatre to our audiences.  We have a set of safety protocols based on Public Health guidelines, which are informing our capacity and ability to have artists safely in our space to bring you digital work in your homes. Safety measures and health protocols, including masks, social distancing, and sanitation measures, are fully in effect and updated as precautions for COVID-19 evolve and change. Please see our website or contact us for details. 


All performance in the run will be Relaxed Performances and Closed Captioning will be available.

Relaxed Performances are designed to welcome audience members and their families who could benefit from a more relaxed environment, including those who are neurodiverse and Autistic patrons. The digital set-up includes: access to a visual story for the play which includes clear instructions on accessing the performance link, a pre-show introduction to the actors/characters, the ability to access the performance for 48 hours after the performance, a digital Front of House Manager to provide answers to any questions via phone, email, or in the chat. A zoom meeting after the show where you can talk with an active listener. 

Closed Captioning will be available at the bottom of the screen for audience members who are Deaf or hard of hearing providing the audio in text form on all performances.

About Black Out Night

February 12 is a BLACK OUT performance. The spirit behind this evening is to provide a space for Black theatre-goers to experience a show for them, by them. The BLACK OUT event also facilitates a safe environment for a personal and intimate discussion on the work made and performed by Black artists. We are committed to continue offering BLACK OUT performances for all Black playwrights and artists in future seasons.

We thank everyone in advance for supporting these artists and TPM as we facilitate an opportunity for a community to celebrate and enjoy a performance made for Black audiences.

The Prelude

On February 6th at 4:00pm, TPM will host a thought-provoking conversation on spirituality and artistry with Dora-nominated artist Nicole Brooks. Nicole is a playwright, director, performer, and Sangoma, and the creator of the hit show OBEAH OPERA. In conversation with TPM Associate Artistic Director Indrit Kasapi, she will discuss her unique multidisciplinary practice and how her art honours her ancestral journey. This free digital Prelude event take place live over Zoom on February 6th at 4:00 PM.

Otter Live Captions for Zoom will be available for this event. Otter Live Captions for Zoom adds AI closed captioning in real-time for Zoom meetings and webinars. Meeting participants can click a button at the top of the zoom meeting and sign up for a free Otter AI account (an email and password will be required) to see live captions directly via their Zoom window. RSVP by email at

About TPM

Founded in 1968, TPM is Canada’s original alternative theatre company, currently developing and producing new Canadian plays. TPM is striving to articulate a distinct Canadian voice that reflects the complexity of our intercultural society. TPM believes there should be a more diverse representation of artists, audience members, and stories in our theatre. TPM aspires to be a leader locally, nationally and internationally in establishing, promoting, and embracing collaborative and inclusive theatre practices. We do this so that we can support and ignite the voices of unique artists, communities and audiences.

Media Contact

Emily Jung | Interim Marketing & Communications Manager | e: | p: 416-504-8988 ext. 2172|Instagram & Twitter @beyondwallsTPM | Facebook

Season Sponsor:

TD Bank Group

Upcoming show

Speculation by Leslie Ting, a Theatre Passe Muraille and Leslie Ting Co-Production in partnership with NUMUS

March 3-6, 7:30pm

In Speculation, Leslie Ting, a former optometrist and now a professional violinist, presents a re-imagining of this theatrical concert, taking the audience through witnessing her mother’s loss of vision, and eventual passing. Created through projections and music from both Beethoven & John Cage, this new online experience features experimental film and a collective performance of Cage’s 4’33”.

TPM’s 20.21 Season is sponsored by TD Ready Commitment. The season is also supported by Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Hal Jackman Foundation, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Martin Atkinson Foundation at Toronto Foundation and Metcalfe Foundation. This show is sponsored by Jeff and Rita Rayman