Djanet Sears (born 1959) is a Canadian playwright, actor and director. Born in England, to a Guyanese father and a Jamaican mother, Sears lived there until 1974 where she then moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada. Her birth name was Janet â" she added the D after a trip to West Africa where she came across a plateau called "Djanet," inspiring her to change her name as a nod to her African Ancestry.
Education and work
In 1977 Djanet moved to Toronto, Canada to attend York University where she pursued a Honors Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater. From there she studied at the Canadian Film Centre and New York University. Sears is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto as well as University College, University of Toronto, where she teaches play-writing and works on the preservation of Black theatre history. She is considered to be the leader behind the AfriCanadian Playwrights Festival, which is a culmination of African centered plays on the Canadian stage, it was held in Toronto in 2003 as well as 2006. Sears also belongs to and is a founding member of the Obsidian Theater. Djanet has received international recognition for three of her plays full length plays, Afrika Solo, Harlem Duet, and The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.
In 1998, Djanet received Canada's highest literary award, The Governor General's Literary Award.
Harlem Duet has received multiple Dora Maver Moore Awards.
- Afrika Solo is primarily a one woman show, along with a two man chorus. It is a semi-autobiographical play that tells a story about a young woman trying to find herself getting through what new information she is learning along the way. The main character, Djanet and her experiences are the focal point of the play.
- Harlem Duet is considered to be a precursor to Shakespeare's Othello. The location is set on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X Boulevards. Sears choose this location because she wanted the audience to grasp the concept of race in the country, and the familiar streets were more tangible to the North American Audience. The story follows main characters Othello and Billie and there withering marriage as Othello begins to lean towards a white identity mostly because of his affair with a character named Mona, who is a white woman. The story paints a picture of the white dominated North America.
- The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God follows character Rainey, who is a African-Canadian Doctor and her hardships while experienced in Western Ontario. Rainey deals with losing a close family member, a failing marriage and tension between her and her father, who even with poor health and old age is on a mission to maintain his ethic pride in his community.
- Who Killed Katie Ross
- Double Trouble
- The Mother Project
Awards and Honors
- International Armstrong Award (1991)
- Silver Prize at the International Radio Festival of New York (1991)
- The Governor General's Literary Award (1998)
- Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award (1998)
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award
- The Harry Jerome Award
- Phenomenal Woman of the Arts Award
- Timothy Findley Award (2004)
- The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Mirvish Productions, Toronto, Canada. (2003/2004)
- Harlem Duet, Blue Heron Theatre, New York, NY. (2002)
- The Wonder of Man, Nightwood Theatre, Toronto, Canada. (1992)
- Dark Diaspora... in Dub, Toronto Fringe Festival, Toronto, Canada. (1990)
- Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots, Groundswell, May Works and From the Ground Up, Toronto, Canada. (1989)
- Ella and Jennifer, Groundswell, Toronto, Canada. (1989)
- AStreetcar Named Desire, Canadian Actor's Equity Association, Talent over Tradition, Toronto, Canada. (1989)
- CopperTin Can, Groundswell, Toronto, Canada. (1988)
- Shakes, Cabaret Productions,York University, Toronto, Canada. (1982)
- "Playsongs and Lullabies" Teds Records, Toronto Canada, (1989)
- "Conditions Critical" Verse to Vinyl Records, Toronto, Canada, (1989)
- "Winterlong" Teds Records, Toronto, Canada, (1991)
- "Daysongs and Nightsongs" Teds Records, Toronto, Canada, (1993)