Obsidian Theatre Announces its New Artistic Director

Obsidian Theatre has announced that Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu will be their new Artistic Director.

After Philip Akin stepped down as AD, the search for Obsidian’s next AD was a tough one. Raised in Kenya and Victoria, BC and based in Toronto, Mumbi is an acclaimed theatre creator and director and fits the bill perfectly. She is a graduate of Soulpepper Academy, York University, and the University of Toronto as well as the Obsidian Theatre’s Mentor/Apprenticeship Program, so things have come full circle for her in terms of where she got her start.

“Obsidian gave me my first foot inside the professional theatre scene in Toronto through the Mentor/Apprentice Program and has continued to be an important artistic and cultural home for my growth as an artist ever since. I would not be where I am today as an artist if I had not had the support of Obsidian. I’m sure there are many other Black artists in the country who feel the same. I am excited to continue the work of championing and advocating for the work of Black artists and training the next generation of theatre-makers,” she says.

What she’s looking forward to…

“I am deeply honoured to be the next leader of this incredible company! Over the course of my career, I have been passionate about creating work that explores the depth and breadth of the Black voice in its many artistic dialects and having an opportunity to continue to do this within the context of Obsidian is such a gift.”

Mumbi is also the Founder/Artistic Director of the Dora Award-nominated experimental theatre company IFT (It’s A Freedom Thing) Theatre.

Some of her directing credits include these hit plays: Trout Stanley (Factory Theatre), The Brother’s Size (Toronto Theatre Critics Award), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Soulpepper Theatre), and Dora Award-nominated Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape (Obsidian Theatre/Soulpepper). Other directing credits include: Nightmare Dream, Dancing to a White Boy Song, and Motherland for IFT Theatre.

Mumbi is also the recipient of an Artistic Director’s Award (Soulpepper), a Pauline McGibbon Award, a Mallory Gilbert Protege Award, a Harold Award, and has been nominated twice for the John Hirsch Directing Award.

In our previous article with Philip Akin, he mentions that he doesn’t necessarily expect the next AD to fit into his shoes, but instead to do something different. In honour of that, Mumbi says, “I am bubbling with ideas and I can’t wait to collaborate with the amazing staff and board to create the next chapter of Obsidian.”

She also adds, “In the meantime, I am highly looking forward to joining Obsidian’s audiences in catching the return of Caroline or Change this February as part of a fabulous partnership with Musical Stage Co. I never managed to snag a seat to the last sold-out run of the original production, and the fact that Canadian Icon Jully Black is starring in it is super exciting.”

And lastly a few words of gratitude…

“I am full of gratitude to Philip Akin, Alison Sealy-Smith and all the founding members – legends that built this company and have shepherded it ever since. We stand on their shoulders.”

Make sure to watch out for some exciting things at Obsidian.

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Mariam is Associate Editor at Intermission. Mariam earned her Honours BA in English literature from York University and recently completed a Graduate Certificate program from Centennial College in Book and Magazine Publishing. When she's not busy reading books and plays, she takes pictures of books for her "Bookstagram", watches as many movies and shows as she can, and is a self-proclaimed Chocoholic.