21 Black Futures – The Prescription

Stepping into hybridity, afrofuturism and BLM

When I received that call about The Prescription. The production was well on its way. Maybe 3-4 weeks into the planning and there was a ripple of excitement that rolled down from my neck bone to my toes. Sure, I’ll do it, without hesitation.

The Prescription Team

21 Playwrights

21 Actors

21 Directors

It was a pleasure working on this project. When I jumped on one of the projects entitled, Prescription written by Lisa Codrington and featuring Akosua Amo-Adem it was because director Sasha Leigh Henry had to leave for a long term production that started up again. Sasha had already been rehearsing diligently with Akosua for several days. Three weeks before the shoot, I met the group together for the transfer and then worked with Akosua for online rehearsals. During our rehearsals we talked a lot about how Black women are treated in the medical industry and by social workers and white fragility.

Akosua Amo-Adem in The Prescription written by Lisa Condrington and directed by Alison Duke

Our artistic process involved first separating the text into chapters that represented certain themes, emotions and story. We then experimented a lot with the performance as much as we could until we landed the right tone and flow. We timed all the takes to make sure we kept it within the 10 min allotted time limit. Once we were settled with timing and the arc of the performance we worked through the blocking. Blocking via Zoom isn’t easy but we tried to imagine how to make it work on a set that essentially would be a table, chair, some exploding pink light, archival footage and a Open Your Big Black Mouth pamphlet made just for the production.

The production meeting was really highlighted the fact that this series was a clash of genres – Canadian theatre and the film world. It included Obsidian Theatre producers to our fabulous creative team and Keenan Lynch who was charged with the responsibility of making 21 different monologues cinematically different. The actual shoot was fast paced. We had exactly four hours and not a second more as we were working with a unionized theatre crew. I don’t know how we did it but I was happy with the end result.

My inspiration came from sci fi movies and also documentary images that speak to the ongoing struggle for Black women to be heard. I also added contemporary photography from Nicholas Lachance, Malcolm Garrett and archival photography from Bob Brooks and Erik Christensen – a story telling technique that I borrowed from my documentary work. You can watch The Prescription and other 21 Futures films on CBC Gem. Here’s a link to The Prescription: https://www.cbc.ca/artsprojects/21blackfutures/the-prescription

Reviews

Reviews: 21 Black Futures

https://vdare.tv/posts/canadian-broadcasting-corporation-s-21-black-futures

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/article-obsidian-theatres-21-black-futures-five-streaming-sci-fi-plays-worth/

https://stories.td.com/ca/en/article/how-one-theatre-production-is-exploring-the-question-what-is-the-future-of-blackness

https://www.stage-door.com/3/Reviews/Entries/2021/3/21-black-futures-season-3.html

Students also made original art and work about this:

https://www.cbc.ca/arts/seeding-the-future-students-share-original-art-and-performances-inspired-by-21-black-futures-1.5923200

Photo Credit: Erik Christensen

Credits

Creative Team

Set and Costume Designer: Rachel Forbes | Lighting Designer: Shawn Henry | Projection Designers: Cameron Davis and Laura Warren | Props Coordinator: David Hoekstra | Head of Wardrobe: Joyce Padua | Assistant Set and Costume Designer: Jawon Kang | Hair & Make Up Specialist: Bianca Harris

Film Team

Cinematographer: Keenan Lynch | First Assistant Camera: Arvin Cordova | Digital Imaging Technician: Jeff Pentilla | Location Sound Recordist: Kevin Brown | Editors: Ramon Charles, Ashton Lewis, Joe Amio and March Mercanti | Sound Designer: DJ Loqenz | Sound Designers/Mixers: Antoinette Tomlinson, Inaam Haq, Debashis Sinha and Rez Dahya | Online Editor: Ken Yan | Senior Consulting Online Editor: Jordan Lavigne

Producing Team

Artistic Director: Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu | General Manager: Michael Sinclair | Artistic Producer: Fatuma Adar | Company Dramaturge: Myekah Payne | Line Producer: Muzafar Malik | Production Coordinator: Malina Patel | Stage Manager/Script Supervisor: Kat Chin | Production Manager: Crystal Lee | Associate Production Manager: Carlos Varela | Rehearsal Stage Manager: Emilie Aubin | Production Assistant / Driver: Emida Olusegun

Additional Creative Team Members

Creative Director: Chinedu Ukabam | Artwork by: Yung Yemi | Graphic Design: Gloria Asse Elogo | Publicity: Suzanne Cheriton | Assistant Director: KayGeni – Jah in the Ever-Expanding Song | Assistant Director: Abigail Whitney – Sensitivity, Witness Shift, Madness With Rocks, Notice | ASL Coach: Natasha ‘Courage’ Bacchus – Witness Shift | ASL Interpreter: Marcia Martins – Witness Shift, Beyere | ASL Interpreter: Denica C. Brown – Beyere | Artistic ASL Consultant: Dr Jenelle Rouse – Beyere | French Dramaturgy: Stéphanie Jasmin – Chronologie | Movement Director: Esie Mensah – Cavities | Workshop Director: Sasha Leigh Henry – The Prescription

CBC

Supervising Producer: Lucius Dechausay | Website: Jeff Hume | Copy Editor: Marcia Chen | Production Manager, CBC Arts: Luke Myers | Manager, Digital Business and Rights: Clara Lee | Executive Producer, CBC Arts: Andrew D’Cruz | Executive in Charge of Programming, CBC Arts: Grazyna Krupa

Published by Alison Duke

Writer/producer/director enjoying the process.

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