Blog: Why Black Out Night?

February is Black History Month (or Black Futures Month), a time to honour the legacy of Black peoples and communities of Canada. The theme this year is “Ours To Tell.” At Theatre Passe Muraille, we’re proud to share two extraordinary shows by Black creators – Okay, you can stop now by Shakeil Rollock and X and Da Spirit by Donovan Hayden.

Photo of Shakeil by Gessy Robyn Shumbusho | Photo of Donovan and Trinity by Jan Cruz

As part of our presentations, TPM is also pleased to host a Black Out Night on February 9th – an evening for Black theatre-goers to experience theatre in a space made for Black identifying folx. The spirit of Black Out Night is about who is intentionally invited (as opposed to who is not). We want Black Out Night to feel like an intimate family dinner. This is a space we have offered at TPM for Black creators and audiences since March 2020.

While we understand that as a newer practice it can seem confusing and logistically complicated, as more theatres are embracing diverse programming and exploring ways to invite audiences who are historically under-represented, initiatives like Black Out Night aim to create environments in which communities can feel truly welcomed and included.

Photo from "our place". Audience members smile and chat with each other as they wait for the performer. In the distance is the set, which looks like an interior of a restaurant, with the name "Jerk Pork Castle" on top

Black Out Night from “our place” by Kanika Ambrose, a Cahoots Theatre and TPM Co-Production (Set Design by Sim Suzer) | Photo by Gesila Azorbo

The invitation to Black Out Night is to people who self-identify as Black, and it is for our audience members to decide if this applies to them or if this particular evening is the right night to attend the performance. We trust our audience members to decide if Black Out Night is for them, or if that space should be reserved for someone else. We find that most people, once they hear about the intentions to create a safer space for Black folx, are understanding and pick another night during the run to attend.

At TPM, we constantly ask ourselves “Who has traditionally been excluded from theatre spaces?“ We are committed to continue to offer programming that intentionally invites underrepresented communities to participate, and Black Out Night is one of those initiatives. We invite you to join us in making TPM more welcoming and accessible. 

We recognize that this program brings up complex discussions and we are happy to hold them with anyone open to a respectful dialogue. For further inquiries or responses to this blog, we welcome you to contact us. 

Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director

Indrit Kasapi, Artistic Producer

Michelle Knight, Managing Director, Revenue & Strategy

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