Many Canadians will be forgiven in thinking ‘da Kink in My Hair is a television sitcom. Airing on the Global television network ten years ago, the television program is actually based on a play of the same name by Canadian playwright, Trey Anthony.
Beginning life at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2001, the award-winning comedy with a social conscience has gone on to becoming an iconic piece of Canadian theatre with productions across the country, and around the world.
It is also responsible for several Canadian firsts, including the first Canadian play to be performed at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, and as our country’s first national black sitcom. The play has even been adapted into a musical version, produced by Anthony.
Told through a series of monologues, music and dance, ‘da Kink in My Hair gives voice to eight black women’s stories, centered around Caribbean hairdresser, Novelette. Set in a bustling Toronto hair salon, Novelette sparks inner transformations in her clients by touching their hair.
In its Vancouver stage premiere, Stone’s Throw Productions will present a staged reading of Anthony’s comedy as the final project by Mariam Barry, an apprentice at Pacific Theatre.
“I’ve loved ‘da Kink in My Hair since my introduction to Canadian theatre,” says Barry. “It’s so refreshingly female-driven in its celebration of black voices. Set in the familiar space of an Afro Caribbean hair salon, the play is a riot of comedy, music, tragedy and dance. What’s not to love?”
Knowing it had never been produced in Vancouver, Barry jumped at the opportunity to bring it to a local stage.
“After discussions with the playwright, we decided a staged reading would be the best step towards a full production in the future,” she says.
Opening just after Canada Day, Barry sees the play as a celebration of the our country’s diversity, with its all-black female cast, and in highlighting our city’s black cultural past.
“From the erasure of Hogan’s Alley to the legacy of Joe Fortes, it’s a gift to produce Trey Anthony’s work for the first time in Vancouver,” she says. “To me, this reading is a reclamation of that history.”
Calling it a timeless piece of Canadian theatre, director Gavin Cheema recognizes the play’s ability to bring communities together through storytelling.
“It’s a raw, healing and empowering piece that fosters a sense of cultural belonging”.
‘da Kink in My Hair opens at Pacific Theatre (1440 West 12 Ave, Vancouver) on July 4 and runs through July 7. Visit pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.