b current’s legacy in professional arts training for Artists of Colour began with the rAiz’n Ensemble. At the 13th annual rock.paper.sistahz Theatre+ Festival, our rAiz’n the Sun Ensemble program was renamed: the mandiela rAiz’n the Sun Ensemble.
The renaming honours the company’s founding Artistic Director: ahdri zhina mandiela who started and lead the Ensemble for 14 years, inspired by Dean Ifill (Degrassi High, SheVISIONS), the first coordinator and a lead facilitator. (In 2013, Naomi Abiola took the reins of leading the Ensemble as Intern Training Program Lead; with members graduating in October 2014.)
The mandiela rAiz’n Ensemble is development for career-focused, emerging artist members seeking training focused through a Black diasporic lens.
This Professional Development Program has a regular 3-year cycle in which members train, create, practice, apprentice, and mentor with seasoned working artists, on company productions and outreach projects; or intern with other companies and groups. At the beginning of the cycle, members are selected through auditions, interviews, and preliminary workshops. The selected group of emerging artists then register with an annual fee and continue as members throughout the 3 years.
Beside ongoing group and individual creation & networking activities, research, and performing, members participate in facilitated explorations, furthering skills & practical artistic knowledge. Workshop modules include: Caring/Tuning of Voice & Body, Work on Monologues & Auditions, Public Intervention as Performance, Text Analysis, Directing for Stage…
In addition, each member may work in the rock.paper.sistahz Theatre+ Festival, have self-directed bi-monthly meetings in the rAiz’n Salon, explore ideas and arts in neighbourhood communities, host and organize events like the playreading series: wychWord, and rAiz’n sPeak; as well as run workshops in schools. Members may also choose a discipline (performance, design, technical, producing) for apprenticing on a final graduating showcase production.
Many of our graduates & alumni who have trained with the mandiela rAiz’n Ensemble are award-winning and some of the most visible next generation artists on the contemporary arts scene. These young movers and shakers include: multiple Dora Mavor Moore Award winning actor Raven Dauda; screen & stage writer, Rebecca Fisseha (Wise.Woman); Dora nominated actor and Artistic Director, Jajube Mandiela (Degrassi, Binti’s Journey); Dora nominated director, Weyni Mengesha (Mirvish, Soulpepper, Stratford); Gemini Award nominated & CAB Diversity Award winning actor/producer, Ngozi Paul (‘da kink in my hair); Governor General Award Literacy Award Finalist Joseph Jomo Pierre, Dora nominated & NAACP Image Award winning trey anthony, poet & playwright Motion, G98.7’s radio personality Mark Strong, and Dora Award winning poet and playwright, d’bi young.
The mandiela rAiz’n Ensemble program is now retired and succeeded by the bcHub program.