2020-2021,  blog

Being Black is a Journey

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

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.

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.

About Tsholo

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 Tsholovisions.com.

About 11:11

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.

A Theatre Passe Muraille Digital Production, 11:11 by Samson Bonkeabantu Brown played virtually in 2021 February. Show information, including the digital show program is still available on our website!

Missed 11:11 at Theatre Passe Muraille? The digital production is on Tour at Prairie Theatre Exchange, playing between October 13-17, 2021.