SUMTER-FREITAG, Addena




Author Tags: Afro-Canadian, Theatre

Dedicated to Maya Angelou, Addena Sumter-Freitag’s one-woman play about growing up Black in Winnipeg’s North End during the 1950s and 1960s, Stay Black and Die (Commodore 2007 $16), was first performed in 1995 at the Edison Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver, featuring the author. As an adult and a seventh-generation Black Canadian, Addena Sumter-Freitag frequently experienced frustration of a member of a visible minority within the country’s theatre community. These personal hurdles led her to write her own play, Stay Black and Die, which gained her Theatre BC’s National Playwriting Award in 1993, Centaur’s Theatre’s People’s Choice Award at the Montreal Fringe Festival and the Frankie Award for Best Play at the Montreal Fringe Festival in 1998. While overcoming her dysfunctional home and the difficulties of being the only black child in a largely immigrant neighbourhood, a girl named Penny often hears her mother tell her, “You’re Black. You’re going to stay Black and die.” 978-0-9683182-7-0

The second book by seventh-generation African Canadian Addena Sumter-Freitag, Back in the Days (Wattle and Daub $16 2009), is a collection of poetry that also provides a brief outline of her family history. Her father, Walter Sumter, was born in South Carolina in 1893, where he experienced racism, hatred and the murder of an uncle. At sixteen he went to Chicago to find security and work as a railroad porter, enabling him to meet Kathleen Louise Mentis in Truro, Nova Scotia. She was born in the Maritimes in 1908. They married in 1928 and moved to Winnipeg where they had five children. Sumter-Freitag was born in St. Boniface and lives in East Vancouver. Wayde Compton says her writing is "bold-faced, broad-based and takes up space in a Canada that needs to be re-raced." 978-0-9810658-1-6

Addena Sumter-Freitag, Tanya Evanson, Lorna Goodison and Wayde Comptom are among 90 contributors to the first national anthology of poetry by African Canadians, Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (alpinebookpeddlers.ca $21.95), edited by Valerie Mason-John and Kevan Anthony Cameron, and launched during Black History Month in February of 2012.

[BCBW 2012] "Theatre" "Afro-Canadian"