In Conversation with Abigail Whitney, Director of Les Frères
Written by Selina McCallum. Graphic Design by Kingbee Illustration.
Tomorrow is the opening of the play, Les Frères, which is a play directed by Abigail Whitney and written by Sandra A. Daley-Sharif.
Les Frères is a play inspired by Lorainne Hansberry's Les Blancs and tells the story of three estranged brothers of Haitian descent, who come home to Harlem for their dying Father.
Whitney came across the play through a friend who found it on a website called New Play Exchange. Her friend then submitted an application in her name to the drama societies at University of Toronto (UFT) to direct the play. Unfortunately, it didn’t get accepted, but they didn’t stop there. When another society was accepting submissions, they applied again, and were accepted.
“The second time I submitted the application, I made it a lot more personal. I added that the first time I read it I was super emotional, it’s relevant to my Haitian background and that I haven’t seen much Haitian work in the city,” said Whitney.
Abigail Whitney is in her fourth year at UFT studying theatre and performance. She was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She is half Haitian but grew up in a Haitian household and Haitian culture.
Whitney balances being a full time student as well as being a professional model. She has modelled for Sephora and Cover Girl.
She was unsure at first if she could take on directing a play by herself.
“It’s going to be a lot of pressure putting on the show for one person while balancing other courses. But I thought let me do this because I’m passionate about it. I love what the play is about,” said Whitney. “If I’m passionate about it, I’m not going to worry about the workload because it’s going to be fine and what I want to work towards.”
The play looks at the brother’s troubled memories filled with anger and abuse. They are forced to deal with how each choose to deal with memories, how each have escaped, feelings of abandonment, betrayal and loss.
Kato Alexander plays Christopher, Kwaku Adu-Poku plays Jean-Caleb, and David Delisca plays Fedji in Les Frères.
Whitney says that she has a great cast that
“Everyone has the same end goal. All the actors understand how important this is. They get that this means so much to me and they’re just excited,” said Whitney.
The director of Les Frères feels that there should be a link between art and reality.
“We’re trying to make this play as relevant as it can be. There shouldn’t be a disparity between what is happening on stage and real life, because there really isn’t,” said Whitney.
The end of the play asks two of the brothers if they will escape back into the lives they have forged for themselves or will they try to make new life amongst the embers of pain.
The play will be at George Ignatieff Theatre in Toronto November 29 to December 1st. Tickets are still available online.