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‘How did we get to a first?’: Theatre program has a difficult time attracting students, directors of colour

CBC with Naila Keleta-Mae 28 August 2019


When Jamar Adams-Thompson takes the stage next month to play Othello in the University of Windsor’s production of William Shakespeare’s eponymous tragedy, it’ll be the first time that a black actor will be led by a black director in the theatre department’s history.

Naila Keleta-Mae, assistant professor in the University of Waterloo’s department of Communications Arts, said the fact that Adams-Thompson and director Tanisha Taitt are the first black artists to work together in their respective theatrical roles is a sign of systemic, anti-black white supremacy.

“When we get to the first of something, it’s an opportunity for us to enter into a public conversation,” said Keleta-Mae. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Well how did we get to a first?'”