Event Details
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    September 1, 2023
    5:00 pm - 6:45 pm
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An Intriguing Though Unfinished Opera Reimagined for Today: Treemonisha
Friday 9/1 at 5pm ET

Community Gathering on Zoom - register with the bright red reservation box to receive the Zoom link. These gatherings are a service for the theater community and are offered free for TRU members; we ask that non-members help keep us running by making a donation or joining as a member.

In the room: playwrights Leah-Simone Bowen¬†and¬†TRU's¬†very own¬†Cheryl¬†L. Davis¬†who gave Joplin's¬†Treemonisha¬†a recent makeover.¬†Ragtime legend Scott Joplin never got to hear his only opera performed, though it was resurrected and orchestrated 50 years after his death. Now a resurgence of interest ‚Äď and perhaps a cultural awakening ‚Äď has led to a series of new versions of the opera. Why is now the time to take a new look at Scott Joplin's ambitious break from ragtime?¬†How did our two gifted speakers divide the writing duties and form a successful collaboration?¬†Was it tricky respecting the past while finding relevance for today?¬†Who initiated the acclaimed new version that played Toronto in June? And how does this century old work resonate for today's audiences?¬†

    is an award-winning playwright, director, performer, educator and the former Artistic Producer of Obsidian Theatre, Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre company dedicated to the Black voice. As a writer, Leah’s work has been produced and published across Canada and the United States. In addition to her work in Theatre, she is a podcast and audio producer and the creator and co-host of the hit irreverent history series The Secret Life of Canada, which was the first independently created show to be picked up by the CBC. In 2021, CBC Radio One announced her as the new permanent host of Podcast Playlist, a weekly show that also airs across the US on PRX. Leah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Film Studies from the University of Alberta and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Theatre and Performance studies from York University. She would like to thank the Stratford Festival for its support in the development of this adaptation as well as her family, friends and artistic colleagues for their steadfastness throughout the creation of this piece. Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha is dedicated to the memory of Priscilla Ann Walkes.


    received the Kleban Award as a librettist for her musical¬†Barnstormer, (written with Douglas J. Cohen) about Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman flyer. The show received a Jonathan Larson Award through the Lark Play Development Center. Her play¬†Maid‚Äôs Door¬†received great reviews,¬†won seven Audelco Awards, and was a finalist for the Francesca Primus Prize. Her play¬†The Color of¬†Justice (commissioned by Theatreworks/USA), received excellent reviews in the New York Times and Daily News, and tours regularly.¬†Her musical¬†Bridges, which was commissioned by the Berkeley Playhouse, received its world premiere in February 2016 to great reviews and three award nominations from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.¬†She received a Writers‚Äô Guild Award for her work on ‚ÄúAs the World Turns‚ÄĚ, and was¬†also¬†nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. Her work has been read and performed internationally, including at the Cleveland Play House, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Kennedy Center.¬†¬†She is the General Counsel of the Authors Guild.