SHE SAID/HE SAID PRESS PAGE

Welcome to the SHE SAID/HE SAID Press Page – a new play on Black Love in Toronto written by Award Winning Playwright and activist Anne-Marie Woods aka Amani

 

Photos by Linda Marie Stella


The Word on SHE SAID/HE SAID


After a successful World Premiere in Montreal and a good old down home Nova Scotia Debut in Halifax, the last stop on the 3 city tour was Toronto, Ontario…

SHE SAID/HE SAID is a play where spoken word, theatre comedy and conflict join hands to take the audience on an incredible journey.

Written and Directed by Anne-Marie Woods
Songs and Lyrics by Anne-Marie Woods
Musical Arrangements by Anne-Marie Woods and Jeremiah Sparks
Produced by Black Theatre Workshop Montreal and Imani Enterprises

Synopsis

SHE moved to Toronto from Nova Scotia has lived there for 5 years and after online dating and joining meet up groups she still hasn’t met anyone.

HE was in a long term relationship, had to fight to win custody to see his daughter and is finally ready to meet someone.

They meet fall in love and have to fight to make their relationship last in a world where “the rules” are always changing.

A fusion of real experiences and fiction, playwright Anne-Marie Woods conveys in this new work the vulnerability felt in romantic relationships and the importance of communication.

Through compelling monologues, poetry and song, the female/male rapport is laid bare in this tragicomic battle of wits. SHE SAID/HE SAID is a fresh and nuanced look at relationships through a script that cleverly meanders through the present and past experiences of its two main characters. Where time is subjective, the fourth wall is intermittently torn down and location though specific is universal.

Woods has taken a non-conventional approach to telling a modern day love story.

Winner of the 2013 Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Entertainment, she presented highly successful public readings of this new creation in 2014 to audiences in Nova Scotia, Toronto, and Montreal. The fiery feminist poet and playwright has performed in the UK, Trinidad, the United States and in Canada.


Reviews – Toronto Premiere of SHE SAID/HE SAID


September 18, 2016

MOONEY ON THEATRE Review:  “important exploration of identity and hardship”

The lights dim and the voice of Anne-Marie Woods, the all-encompassing SHE of She Said/He Said, fills the theatre. Through spoken-word, she announces that as a black woman, she hopes that she can make a connection with a black man in Toronto. So far she has had no luck, but she refuses to open up her dating pool to men of different races. She will not strike off black men as a dating option, or (as she calls it) suffer from a condition she calls “blacktose intolerant.” At soon as that line came out, I was hooked.

She Said/He Said by Imani Enterprises has made its Toronto debut at Native Earth’s AKI Studio. She Said/He Said is a multi-faceted performance that combines spoken word, theatre, and song into a story of love, loss, and laughter. The show explores racial identity through the intricacies and insecurities of romantic relationships. It stars award-winning playwright Anne-Marie Woods, who also directed and wrote the show. Woods takes on the role of SHE, while Matthew G. Brown takes on the role of HE.

After the figureless monologue, Woods and Brown take the stage. They stand far apart from each other and address the audience. They introduce themselves in a way that reminded me of a defense, like the entire audience is a third party in a long argument. They plead their case and turn to each other. Their words are simultaneously their defense and their accusation. “He said”, “she said”, “you said”…

She Said/He Said explores the relationships of She and He, tapping into moments of sweetness and annoyance. What seems at first like minor conflicts, ones that are typical and expected of being couple, reveal deeper issues between the characters. Both are struggling with their own issues that they can’t stop from affecting their romance. She is a black woman who feels deeply ignored and mistreated; she tries to be open to giving black men a chance, but she can’t let go of her past hurt. He is a black man who desperately wants to prove what kind of man he is, but finds that the expectations are impossible to meet. The odds are against him before he even starts.

Matthew G Brown was wonderful to watch. He was completely at ease on stage, showing an affinity for acting, singing, and comedic timing. He even demonstrated some slick dance moves for a hot second. Brown’s abilities and his comfort on stage made the story more personal. Even if the show is fiction, Brown made me believe there was nothing but truth in it.

Anne-Marie Woods had a lovely, smoky voice, that felt like it belonged to a singer at a jazz club. She was more tentative in the theatrical performances. She was quiet and she moved with the shyness of someone on a first date, but her tentativeness disappeared the moment she did spoken word. There, she demanded attention and drew me in. I felt like I could listen to her talk for the rest of the show. I found Woods more impressive when she commanded the spotlight, instead of when she shared it.

The vignettes of past and present relationships meld together in a way that is sometimes unclear. This is the only thing that I can think of that could be an issue for some viewers. It was a little confusing, and I found myself asking, is this her current boyfriend or an ex? Normally I would consider it to be a flaw in storytelling, but I think the blending of past and present shows the ultimate message that Woods is getting across: the worries of the past are seeping into the present. Their feelings blur the lines between what’s happening and what already happened.

She Said/He Said is genuinely entertaining with its light-hearted humour, beautiful singing, and sweet moments of romance. More importantly, the show is an important exploration of identity and hardship, and how it relates to race and gender. Woods emphasizes that a conversation about these issues must be had. From what I saw, I am positive that people will be talking immediately when the show ends and the lights go on. I recommend that you see this show and that you do what it’s hoping for: talk.

 


September 30, 2016

EXCALIBUR Review: … She Said/He Said is a play worth  attending

by Bernice Afriyie | Arts Editor

Anne-Marie Woods, or Amani, dazzles audiences with her humour, wit and realness at the premiere of her play She Said/He Said. On September 15, the graduate of the Dalhousie University professional actor training program was accompanied by her onstage male companion HE, played by Toronto-born actor and award winner Matthew G. Brown.

The play opened to a bare black stage dressed with a chair and table on both ends and a voiceover of Amani reciting her spoken word poem “Blacktose Intolerant.” The words rang through the audience: “Lately, I’ve been meeting sisters who are telling me that they are blacktose intolerant. Tired of the black man. Ask me to try and understand ‘cause they’ve had trials and tribulations and it’s caused them some frustration, so now they are blacktose intolerant. I don’t get it, see. I love my brothers. No matter what, [the] negative situations or relationships I have been in have nothing to do with the entire race of black men.” The poem was more than a clever pun, it is the opening lines of the poem that foreshadow the many themes of the play.

The characters SHE and HE brilliantly capture the diverse experiences of black people. The general pronouns of the characters do not generalize black experiences, but instead refuse to use words to mark and dictate what being black means, forcing the audience to get to know the characters without linguistic markers. Instead, She Said/He Said employs song, spoken word and poetry to convey SHE’s personal struggles with finding love and acceptance from black men, especially in Toronto, as well as HE’s struggles with connecting with black women.

In a similar way, the production rejects the negative and stereotypical images and words typically associated with black people. The stage is stripped down to its bare necessities, against a black background occupied by two black bodies, and as such, SHE and HE shed society’s definition of an angry black women and a criminal black man. At one point in the production, both characters say that they cannot represent all women or men, but by telling their stories of heartbreak and internal discrimination, they create a dialogue for other black women and men to tell their stories as well.

She Said/ He Said comments on external racism but also deals with racial relations between black women and men. The production easily could have glossed over gender issues between black women and men but chooses not to. SHE speaks of her past heartbreak in relationships with black men and their unwillingness to return her optimistic hellos in Toronto streets. HE shares how black women would often give him a cold shoulder or ignore him completely. These honest admissions help to construct an accurate image of black people. Regardless of what the media says about black people or what black women and men think of each other, there is a black man and women who have found love in each other and attempt to make their relationship work despite their baggage. The strength of the production rests in its ability to be outwardly critical and internally reflective and honest at the same time


Articles / Media Promo- Toronto Show


NOW MAGAZINE Story by Jon Kaplan Senior Theatre Writer – Black Loves Matter

ByBlack.com An Interview with Matthew G Brown the HE in She Said/He Said

Shedoesthecity.com – 15 Mintutes with Anne-Marie Woods

Bernice Afriye Interview for Excalibur York U Newspaper

Words With Michelle Interview

 

Promo for Toronto Premiere – Broadwayworld.com


Articles/Media Promo for Nova Scotia and Montreal Productions


Featured Article for STAGES Festival in the Local Express by Andrea Nemetz

Featured Article  Nova Scotia Debut in PRIDE News Magazine Toronto

Live Interview on Breakfast Television Montreal

CBC News Canada Montreal  

Quebec Drama Federation  Interview with Stars of the play 

Exploring Love with Wit and Humour – Montreal Community Contact


 ByBlacks.Com Article by Anne-Marie Woods


 Reviews for SHE SAID/HE SAID – Montreal


April 18

Broadway World Review: SHE SAID / HE SAID at the Black Theatre Workshop

by Marilla Steuter- Martin (Broadwayworld.com)

SHE SAID / HE SAID is a new play by award-winning, Toronto-based playwright Anne-Marie Woods. The piece, which runs an hour-and-a-half without intermission, focuses on the romantic relationship between two people each equipped with their own emotional baggage.

Produced by the Black Theatre Workshop, the play provides a modern look not only at relationships and urban dating culture, but at black identity and representation in Canada.

As the main characters, He and She, try to navigate the minefield of contemporary dating, they are unable to separate their own anxieties about race and intimacy from their romantic aspirations. Mariah Inger, who plays She, is captivating to watch and brings forth a wealth of emotion and vulnerability throughout the show. In comparison, Christian Paul as the leading man opposite tends to fade into the background, unable to sustain the audience’s attention to the same degree.

On top of a strong script, which often uses jumps in time and character asides to progress the action along, the play benefits tremendously from its use of spoken word. Woods deserves credit for the composition and elegance with which she seamlessly integrates these moments into the regular dialogue and fabric of the show. The instances of lyrical monologue provide a refreshing change of pace from its overall reliance on stationary dialogue.

The play falters where it tries to further diversify its format using original music and song. The songwriting feels amateur and unpolished, relying on overly simplistic and clichéd rhyme schemes. Despite their best efforts, the actors appeared to be noticeably uncomfortable and almost reluctant onstage during these musical interludes. While this may be a case of press preview jitters, the songs ultimately proved distracting to the whole arc of the show as the thread of the narrative would be repeatedly interrupted.

The styling of the show, presented at the Montreal Arts Interculturels Centre, was interesting and thoughtful, using mirrored panels to redirect light in the intimate semi-round space.

On the whole, the play is humorous and engaging, with Inger ‘s acting performance topping the list of reasons to go and see it. Woods’ script poses relevant and honest questions about the experience of black men and women in the modern dating landscape without providing any easy answers or fairytale endings.


April 21, 2016

Montreal Theatre Hub Review: She Said/He Said a poetic portrait of Black identity, culture and relationships

by Camila Fitzgibbon (montrealtheatrehub.com)

Conceived by playwright and composer Anne-Marie Woods and directed by Black Theatre Workshop Artistic Director Quincy Armorer, SHE SAID/HE SAID makes its world premiere at the M.A.I. in a comedic and dramatic story of love, dating, and relationships told from the perspective of the modern African Canadian.

When vulnerability is equated with weakness and societal stereotypes confine us to a conforming mold, how can intimacy and authentic self-expression be manifested and received without rejection, judgement, and discrimination? In the cunning SHE SAID/HE SAID, the dialogue is driven by the desire to explore and expose how gender, ethnicity, and culture affect our perceptions of self and our relationship dynamics with those that cross our paths.

SHE (portrayed by the brassy Mariah Inger), recently arrived in Toronto, is a self-proclaimed strong, independent career woman striving to be seen, heard, and respected. HE (played by a mesmerizing Christian Paul) is a single parent struggling in his search for identity, security, and understanding. When their lives intersect, their commitment to make their courtship work is challenged by conflicting wishes to save face and pride in society and to fulfill an inmost need for connection. It’s a fight to bring down the cold, concrete walls of the urban jungle surrounding them – and, primarily, of the communication and emotional barriers they’ve built around themselves.

Woods, an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist, has infused this semi-autobiographical script with original music, monologue, and poetry to create a unique theatrical experience of spoken word. (While many of these rhythmically stylistic moments were immensely compelling, however, others were admittedly uncomfortable to sit though – most notably the musical numbers. The two leads are actors above singers, and it is their exceptional storytelling paired with a relevant script that keeps us thoroughly engaged. All merits given, however, for the creative risk.) Eric Mongerson’s lighting design is handsomely effective in creating a dynamic transition between scenes and performance mediums, with Elahe Marjovi’s set design also being triumphant in its use of mirrored, reflecting panels.

Providing a crisp and clear look at the social issues of race and traditional gender roles in the context of family and romantic relationships, this poignant play eloquently fulfills Black Theatre Workshop‘s mandate of developing and providing a voice for Canadian artists of visible minorities. In exploring the adversities faced by Black men and women in a world of labels, stereotypes, and social expectations, however, the search for meaning, truth, and compassion is all but exclusive to a singular segregated community. In SHE SAID/HE SAID, the struggle is arguably universal; the story, potentially all too painfully relatable.

Don’t miss The Black Theatre Workshop’s moving production of She Said/He Said, which plays at the MAI, Montréal Arts Interculturels, 3680 Jeanne-Mance Street until May 1, 2016. Tickets are $23.50 – 28.59 and can be purchased online at http://m-a-i.qc.ca/en/ or by calling the MAI box office at (514) 982-3386


19 avril 2016

Pour Elle et Lui (Review in French) /By Alexandre Cadieux | Théâtre

She Said, He Said
Anne-Marie Woods. Mise en scène : Quincy Armorer. Une production du Black Theatre Workshop présentée à MAI – Montréal, arts interculturels jusqu’au 1er mai.
Ils se croisent, se toisent, se plaisent. Ils déroulent, pour l’autre comme pour nous, le fil de leurs amours déçues, lesquelles nourrissent leurs craintes actuelles. Cette fois-ci, ils aimeraient bien y croire, mais bon, c’est un peu toujours la même histoire.

Air connu que celui-là, chanté ici sans trop emprunter de méandres tortueux, dans l’explicitation limpide des sentiments, des enjeux et des métaphores. Dans She Said/He Said, nouvelle production du Black Theatre Workshop, la Torontoise d’adoption Anne-Marie Woods met des mots sur tout : les souvenirs, les espoirs, les déconvenues, les blocages. C’est une dissection sans détour, pas de deux entre une She et un He qui se livrent de manière tout à fait transparente.

Cette écriture proche de la chanson — il y en a d’ailleurs quelques-unes durant le spectacle — innerve en fait tout le texte, à l’exception de certains dialogues ; les monologues et récitatifs proches du slam ne laissent pas grand-chose dans l’ombre en ce qui concerne les états d’âme des membres du couple. Ce que le texte perd en mystère, il le gagne en rythmique. Les arrangements musicaux signés par Rob Denton se marient à l’aspect soul et r’n’b du phrasé.

On aura beau généraliser sur l’universalité des affres de l’amour, l’auteure souhaitait ici explorer les spécificités d’une certaine romance contrariée entre femme et homme noirs. Privés de noms, réduits en quelque sorte à des pronoms, les deux protagonistes sont à la fois des individus et des représentations un peu composites ; conscients de cette dualité, les premiers ne savent s’ils doivent embrasser ou rejeter leur identité seconde, plus symbolique.

Cette dimension de l’oeuvre, qui fait bien l’objet de certaines remarques ici et là, se déploie surtout vers la fin alors que le couple craque de toutes ses coutures sous des pressions internes, du moins en apparence. Il lui reproche son intransigeance, elle semble déplorer son manque d’engagement. La tyrannie de correspondre à un modèle, peu importe qui l’impose — soi, l’autre, la communauté, l’ensemble du corps social —, ou au contraire la farouche volonté de s’en défaire à tout prix finissent par avoir raison de l’intimité.

Dommage que cet aspect capital, terreau mortifère dont se nourrissent les racines de nombreux désarrois amoureux, soit expédié un peu rapidement lors de la finale.

Insistant longuement sur ce qui a précédé cette rencontre, Woods nous donne peu à voir l’étiolement du tissu affectif, l’effet quotidien de ces tensions.

Mariah Inger et Christian Paul injectent beaucoup de chaleur à ces figures féminine et masculine. Les deux interprètes naviguent avec aisance entre les niveaux de jeu et d’adresse au public, portant avec grâce les archétypes qu’ils représentent et les personnages qui tentent de s’en distinguer. Le contact direct avec le public qu’ils réussissent à établir représente d’autant plus un tour de force que la masse de spectateurs est divisée en deux, dans un rapport bifrontal. Cette décision du metteur en scène Quincy Armorer, outre le fait qu’elle exploite une configuration rarement vue à Montréal, arts interculturels (MAI), accentue un peu le côté démonstratif de l’ensemble.

Le hasard a voulu que j’assiste à She Said/He Said quelques jours après avoir vu Des arbres à La Licorne. Malgré leurs singularités respectives dans le ton et l’ambition, ce sont les similarités qui m’ont frappé : l’épuration scénographique, l’éclatement chronologique du récit, le travail serré et minutieux sur la livraison du texte, mais surtout le motif du couple se confrontant réellement à des questions existentielles et s’affrontant sur ces mêmes questions.

J’ai l’impression d’avoir assisté récemment à beaucoup de spectacles où le rapport amoureux contemporain était essentiellement caricaturé et dénoncé en tant qu’échange marchand, à n’en point douter en reflet à certaines tendances actuelles. Néanmoins, il fait bon de constater que des dramaturges en explorent aussi plus finement les réseaux émotionnels et philosophiques.


Westmouthmag.CA  Review: She Said/He Said PERFORMANCE POETRY COMBINED WITH THEATRICAL DELIVERY 

By Byron Toben

Anne-Marie Woods (aka Amani) in her own words, lets her “poetic rhapsodies” in words “bleed onto the page”.

Thus in the world premiere of her latest work, She Said/He Said, the attraction and arguments between the excellent actors, SHE (Mariah Inger) and HE (Christian Paul) as they try to define their relationships as a WE are punctuated by “spoken word” monologues to the beat of slow dance “back in the day” rhythms as well as more contemporary rap deliveries.

I prefer to categorize spoken word more, as our local star of the genre, Cat Kidd does, as performance poetry. Anyway, whatever you call it, I have followed it since Jack Kerouac read Poetry to Jazz on bongo drums and sax back in the 60s.

Here, the two pronoun stars are singles in their late 30s looking for “the one”. Although much is made of the fact that they are both black persons, the initial attractions and ultimate hesitancies are universal. Is she too picky, too bossy? Is he too non committal with a wandering eye? I particularly enjoyed his fantasizing himself as the black John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever with his moves and attitude.

The whole was presented by Black Theatre Workshop director Quincy Armorer on a mosaic floor of reflective glassy particles, enhanced by reflective material on the back walls of the opposite rows of seats in a corridor style configuration

Perhaps Men are really from Mars, Women from Venus. The problem of errant communication between couples despite initial attraction has long been reflective in other ways. The simplest in film was Tarzan’s reaction to her query “We have to define our relationship. What is it?” “Me Tarzan… You Jane”

And of course, Shaw’s quip that “The problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

She Said/He Said closes on Sunday, May 1 at the MAI, 3680 Jeanne-Mance, Montreal.
Tickets: 514-982-3386 or billetterie.m-a-i.qc.ca


 

 

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