Watah African Diaspora Institute for the Performing Arts is both a Black performance conservatory and professional theatre company specializing in the development and mentorship of primarily Black identified artists and also welcomes artists who are People of Colour, First Nations and or LGBTQQIP2SAA. Founded in 2013 and incorporated in 2014 as a non-profit by d’bi.young anitafrika, the organization cultivates artists as mentor-leaders of integrity. Radical arts-engagement sits at the core of Watah’s commitment to providing artists with the tools to self-actualize, create relevant art and uncover crucial mentorship skills for each one to teach one. Year- long residencies that culminate in monodramas written by the artists, ongoing publication of the resident-artists’ work, and the staging of ground-breaking new theatre, are the foundation of Watah’s season.
Watah contributes to, supports and develops the legacy of Black Theatre in Canada by cultivating and sharing a unique African- Caribbean-Canadian womxnist theatre aesthetic, heavily informed by the radical performance tradition of Jamaica’s dub poetry and
dub theatre. The company insists on challenging systemic barriers that exclude Black theatre artists and wemxn; giving Black arts practitioners a local, national and international platform to showcase and celebrate their work.
Since its inception, Watah has facilitated the growth and development of over 500 artists locally, nationally and globally through residencies, workshops and one-to-one mentorship. Watah Alumni include change- makers such as Amanda Parris founder Lost Lyrics, Randell Adjei founder of R.I.S.E, Che Kothari founder of Manifesto, Kim Katrin Crosby and Naty Tremblay co- founders of The People Project, Natasha Adiyana Morris founder of Piece of Mine Festival, Mriga Kapadiya co-founder of Nor Black Nor White Fashion House, Lishai Peel poet/ arts educator, Liza Paul and Bahia Watson co-creators of widely- celebrated play ‘Pomme is French for Apple, and Ngozi Paul actor- playwright and producer of ‘da kink in my hair’ tv show. These artists today, are leaders in their own creative fields, incorporating Sorplusi’s transformational skills-building and mentorship techniques as crucial facilitative, pedagogical and social frameworks in their creative and activist endeavors.
Watah has also published three popular anthologies through its in- house Sorplusi Institute Press featuring the theatrical and literary works of alumni arts practitioners; making archiving a priority. The organization has also professionally produced 33 new plays (from 2008-2016) by resident artists in our annual festivals: Mikey Smith Raw Works, Audre Lorde Works-In-Progress and Word! Sound! Powah Festival of Monodrama.