“It was a story of healing that needed to happen within my own family.” 

–Trey Anthony

With perfect timing for Mother’s Day, award-winning playwright and performer, Trey Anthony, debuts her newest theatrical production How Black Mothers Say I Love You.

You know her from Da Kink in My Hair, her critically-acclaimed cable comedy set in a Black hair salon. Record breaking, with the show, Anthony became the first Black Canadian woman to write and produce a series for a major Canadian network on prime time.

With particular attention paid to creating authentic, well-rounded characters, I Love You, explores the relationship between mothers and their daughters, when (drawing from her own experiences), Black mothers are forced to leave their children behind, to be able to provide for them.

“My Grandmother was a very stoic, and proud Jamaican woman. I knew there were parts of my history that I didn’t know, and before she passed away I asked, ‘what’s your biggest regret?’ Without hesitation she answered, ‘it was leaving Jamaica, and my children behind—especially your mother—she never forgave me for that.’” In a very thoughtful, and what seems almost private moment, Anthony described that conversation as a very telling moment, and where the seeds of this play began.

By speaking to people about the play, the playwright has come to realise that perhaps the name of the production is a misnomer. She’s learned that it’s not just Black mothers who sometimes struggle to say “I love you.”

“There is power when you come from a place of honesty, when you talk about pain, explore  forgiveness, think about regrets,” she says, “then you transcend race, class, sexuality.”  The story behind I Love You, then becomes a universal concept, and the heartbeat of the play is family.

Anthony says that she’s a firm believer in the saying, “to whom much is given much is required.” In that spirit, she incorporated the #100Girls project. 100 girls of colour, living in Toronto Community Housing will be provided transportation and tickets to the show, with a special reception and talk-back for their experience.

How Black Mothers Say I Love You is on stage at the Factory Theatre through May 15.

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