Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘From the heart’: Rural Black Canadian experiences spotlighted at Victoria theatre this week


Experience original music, modern folklore and lived experiences from rural Black Canadians—all woven together to create an “immersive and profound experience.”

After making its local debut at last year’s Incoming Festival 2023, Intrepid Theatre is thrilled to bring back Black & Rural, created and performed by Shayna Jones and produced by Pi Theatre. 

This dazzling and thought-provoking performance will grace Metro Studio Theatre’s stage from Thursday, March 21st to Saturday, March 23rd. 

Black & Rural has been a two-year journey thus far, and follows the story of a lone Black country woman struggling to defy the monolith of what matters to Black lives.

This narrative that Jones has created is derived from over 40 conducted interviews with Black individuals located across the Canadian countryside—using their reflections and blending them with elements of folkloric tales, personal experience and unique storytelling. 

(Black & Rural / Photo by S. Race)

Black & Rural is a personal and collective journey into the hearts and minds of Black folks that choose to live in rural locations in Canada…stories of difficulty and of what draws them to where they live,” Jones said in an interview with Victoria Buzz.

“It’s a deep dive into the inner workings of a segment of the Black community that we don’t often pay attention to.”

Which is why Jones is thrilled to be able to use her voice and gift as an artist to tell these rural stories, and she hopes that audiences will be just as curious and keen to see this perspective reflected on stage as she was. 

She especially hopes that Black people living rurally, and possibly feeling alone, will see themselves reflected in the piece and feel less isolated in their rural lifestyle choices. 

(Black & Rural / Photo by S. Race)

When asked about some of the challenges she faced in the midst of creating such an intricate performance, she laughed and mentioned that, like her, a lot of the folks she was seeking share in her preference for isolation. 

“A part of my way in the world is to be quiet and settled, so one of the interesting things was trying to…honourably and respectfully…seek out folks who don’t necessarily want to be found.”

She added that once word of her project started to spread, people would approach her first, which made it less intrusive for everyone. 

In speaking with so many others that live similarly, she was able to feel that sense of connection and profound fulfillment in their shared experiences. 

“The surprising thing [about this journey], is how much this has been healing for me as someone that chooses to live close to the land but is quite alone in my culture and heritage,” she said.

(Black & Rural / Photo by S. Race)

To continue to spread the importance of this story, Jones said the project remains ongoing and will be touring in Toronto later this year. 

Inspired by her continuous efforts to bridge different types of Black communities and lifestyles, she’s planning a gathering to take place during her time in Eastern Canada. The idea is to bring urban artists out to farmers for a blend of stories, experiences and newfound connection.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this, Jones has said you can contact her directly via social media or her website.

“This piece is from the heart…and that’s the biggest tool I have for justice and equity, which is also what this piece represents.”

General admission tickets for Black & Rural are $25 and can be purchased here

This performance will also feature Intrepid Theatre’s “Pay-What-You-Ten”— $10 tickets, wherein 10% of tickets for shows will be on-sale for just $10.

Black & Rural

  • Where: Metro Studio Theatre, 1411 Quadra Street
  • When: Thursday, March 21st to Saturday, March 23rd. 

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