Uju Umenyi will bring the story of Samuel Stout
to the stage in 2022
Theatre on the Ridge is pleased to introduce Uju Umenyi as the playwright in residence for our The Story of Samuel Stout Project 2022. Together, Ms. Umenyi and Theatre on the Ridge will collaborate to create a new play based on the life of Port Perry’s first black resident in 1866. This project has been made possible with producing partner Ontario Culture Days, as part of their Creatives in Residence program, and the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now program.
Samuel Stout was an escaped slave, who arrived in Scugog as a barber, married a white woman, became an important member of the community, and died a centenarian and the oldest man in Scugog.
“Upon reading about Samuel Stout’s life and history the pieces came together for me.” says Umenyi. “I love the strength I see in Samuel Stout. I see a resonance with my own family history of migration, resourcefulness and ultimately finding joy in circumstance that can at times, be and seem very hard.”
For Umenyi, the story of Samuel Stout “is about triumph. (He) defies all perceptions of who he should be and his legacy does not stem from a desire to prove to others his worth, but to achieve on his own terms.” Music is also plays a large role in Samuel’s story and Umenyi wants “to convey the importance of music as a means of healing and forging community for the Black community.”
Theatre on the Ridge Artistic Director, Carey Nicholson says, “We are thrilled to get this project underway. It is our biggest new creation work to date and will be a huge but very satisfying challenge for the company. Taking artistic risks through the support of new artists and the production of challenging, new and thought-provoking works from diverse perspectives is one of the core values of Theatre on the Ridge. Uju is an emerging playwright and we are very excited with the concept that she has proposed to tell a little known story of our local heritage. We believe our audiences will be entertained and informed, and that Samuel would be pleased!”
The research process of this project is already underway and workshopping of the first drafts will take place early this year. As the play develops, the community will be invited into the project with a series of workshops around both theatre process and thematic material from the play. In September of 2022, as part of the Ontario Culture Days festival, the public will experience the first full performance of this new work.
Follow Theatre on the Ridge on social media to share in the journey of bringing the world of Samuel Stout to life. For further information, contact Theatre on the Ridge here.