Voices: Past Performances

Written and directed by David Woods

Voices’s signature performance piece. Five actors adopt ‘the Voices’ of selected parts of African Nova Scotian experience and take the audience on a journey through history, culture and contemporary life of African Nova Scotians. The 5 Voices function as individual characters as well as ‘a Greek chorus’ dramatizing and contextualizing the stories of individuals, places and events. This is a joy filled theatrical tour de force featuring performances of children’s games, church sermons, ‘the dozens’, gospel music and Black dance. There are also dramatizations of important moments in African Nova Scotian History including the arrival of the Black Loyalists in 1783, the founding of African United Baptist Churches by Rev. Richard Preston 1832-1861, the great abolisionist and community leader; the expropriation and destruction of the community of Africville by the City of Halifax in the 1960’s. Highlights include the monologue ‘Motion’ the story of a 14 yr old girl in North Preston discovering that her family originated in the Gullah Islands off South Carolina and that ‘she can fly’; ‘I Have A Dream Nova Scotia’ a dramatic speech and tribute to Rev. Richard Preston; and ‘The Derby’ a hilarious sketch on nightclubbing in Halifax during the 1970’s.

Performance History

This ‘ensemble drama’ was initially developed for a performance at Cole Harbour High School the Youth in the aftermath of the 1988 race riot at the school and was first presented in March, 1989 by Youth on The Move (a Black cultural student group) for the school’s International Day for the Elimination of Racism celebration. This performance directly led to the creation of Voices when cast members indicated their desire to continue performing theatre on the Black experience with the play’s author/director David Woods. The play later became part of several Voices school and community tour performances during the 1990’s. In 1995, the play was adapted for a special performance named ‘Nova Scotia Suite’ during the Halifax G7 Summit Community Festival that featured Juno Award winning jazz composer Joe Sealy and Brainerd Taylor conductor Nathaniel Dett Choral.