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1851: Spirit and Voice
Presented by Myseum
February 17 & 24, 7pm

1851: Spirit & Voice

Welcome to 1851: Spirit & Voice, a theatrical and playful revisiting of the 1851 North American Convention of Coloured Freemen. Through this new work written by Associate Artistic Director and Playwright Luke Reece, step into the world of a fictionalized digital conference where the past and present collide.

Live from St. Lawrence Hall, Marie and Anthony host a retrospective look at the gathering of 19th century abolitionists in Toronto, when their event is crashed by ghosts of conventions past. Together our characters grapple with the way history has been written, as well as issues that affect Black lives today. Watch leading historical figures Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Henry and Mary Bibb, and Frederick Douglass share their unfiltered thoughts on historical storytelling and 21st century anti-Black racism. Choose to join in depth conversations about racism, microaggressions, and the use of artistic expression as a means of inspiring change.

This event includes a talk written by Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae, “On Safety, Glass Ceilings, and Feminism,” followed by a live question and answer period with Natasha Henry, President of the Ontario Black History Society, playwright Luke Reece, and Dr. Keleta-Mae, moderated by Josh Dyer.

Written by Luke Reece and directed by Lisa Karen Cox, with a cast featuring Amaka Umeh, Cameron Grant, Daren A. Herbert, Emerjade Simms, Kaleb Alexander, and Sophia Walker.

1851: Spirit & Voice will be presented on February 17 and February 24 from 7-8pm.

I’m not usually a fan of ‘historical re-enactment’ pieces, to be honest, so I wanted to have fun with it. I wanted to show people like Mary Ann Shadd, Mary Bibb, and Frederick Douglass having a good time while reminiscing in the important history rooted at the St. Lawrence Hall. The goal was to create a piece that I would have enjoyed as a child learning this in school, and something I can still enjoy now as an adult, without diminishing the impact it has on Black Canadians today.

- Luke Reece


After registering, delegates will receive a link to the 1851 website. Prior to the event, we ask all delegates to explore the website in order to:

1. Meet the Speakers (past and present) by watching and reading their bios.
2. Look back at the 1851 North American Convention of Colored Freemen and the surrounding historical context of the abolition movement in Toronto.
3. Explore the glossary to better understand mentions of terms and historical moments, such as the Dawn Settlement, the Voice of the Fugitive, white supremacy, and abolition.

A link to the livestream will be sent 24-48 hours before the event. During the event, please be prepared to participate by:

1. Interacting with speakers and fellow delegates using the chat.
2. Choosing to follow 1 of 2 side conversations following introductions: Anthony and Frederick Douglass chat about artistic expression as a means of inspiring change in Lounge 3, while Marie, Mary Ann Shadd, and Mary Bibb discuss microaggressions and the role of education in securing Black futures in Lounge 2.
 Submitting questions for the Q&A with Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae, Natasha Henry, and Luke Reece.

Now Playing At Soulpepper