The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God

(Lunchtime One-Act) World Premiere!

Court House Theatre | june 10 – september 11

Adapted for the stage by LISA CODRINGTON
From the short story by BERNARD SHAW
Directed by RAVI JAIN
Designed by CAMELLIA KOO
Lighting designed by LOUISE GUINAND
Original music and sound designed by JOHN GZOWSKI

“There are a lot of old men pretending to be gods in this forest.”

When a young African girl is abandoned by her missionary for asking too many questions, she takes the phrase ‘Seek and ye shall find’ a little too literally. She sets out on an adventure to try and find God – but which one? There are so many to choose from! And they all want to convince her that they are The One. Along the way she meets a talking snake, a Caravan of the Curious and an Irishman with some radical ideas. Shaw’s short story is reimagined by Governor General Award-nominated playwright Lisa Codrington in her comic and irreverent adaptation.

“Continuing our series of Shaw ‘remixes’, this adaptation of Shaw’s controversial 1932 novella by the talented Lisa Codrington – a young black female writer – is a provocation in and of itself. Lisa’s take-no-prisoners approach matches Shaw’s anarchic spirit and with the collaboration of dynamic director Ravi Jain, should take the piece to a new outrageous high!” —JM

This show is recommended for ages 14+.
Running time is approximately one hour.

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Lisa Codrington
Lisa Codrington
Playwright
Ravi Jain
Ravi Jain
Director
Camellia Koo
Camellia Koo
Designer
Louise Guinand
Louise Guinand
Lighting Designer
John Gzowski
John Gzowski
Original Music and Sound Designer
Joanna Falck
Joanna Falck
Dramaturg
Meredith Macdonald
Meredith Macdonald
Stage Manager
Ivory Neal
Ivory Neal
Assistant Stage Manager
Andrea Schurman
Andrea Schurman
Assistant Stage Manager
Guy Bannerman
Guy Bannerman
GBS / Lord of Hosts / Naturalist
Natasha Mumba
Natasha Mumba
Black Girl
Tara Rosling
Tara Rosling
White Missionary / Mathematician
Ben Sanders
Ben Sanders
Micah the Morasthite / King Solomon / Physicist
Kiera Sangster
Kiera Sangster
Black Mamba Snake
Andre Sills
André Sills
Black Bearer
Graeme Somerville
Graeme Somerville
The Almighty / Biologist / The Artist
Jonathan Tan
Jonathan Tan
The Conjuror
Our image for this production features playwright Lisa Codrington as Bernard Shaw, sitting in Shaw’s famous writing hut which sat at the bottom of his garden and could be turned so as to better catch the light of the sun. Codrington, a Winnipeg-born playwright, was an Ensemble member at the Shaw Festival for several years and performed in one of Shaw’s most challenging plays, In Good King Charles’ Golden Days. She is also an accomplished playwright – her play Cast Iron was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Drama and her play Up the Garden Path will be produced by Obsidian Theatre in Toronto. Her proposal to turn Shaw’s short story into a play seemed like a perfect match between a writer and material. Not only did Lisa turn his prose into a play, she has taken the story of a young black girl’s journey to find God and truly re-imagined it for today’s Shaw Festival.

Shaw wrote this story when he and his wife Charlotte decided to go to South Africa in 1931 – she wanted sunshine and he wanted to get away from his work. But of course Shaw could not remain silent while he was there, and on his final night in the country, he spoke simultaneously on all five radio stations in South Africa. What began as a pleasant discussion of his love of the country, turned into a critique – particularly of the treatment of the black population with Shaw calling South Africa a “Slave State.” Though not officially slaves, he saw their position as worse than real slaves because they were not, as Shaw said, “owned by masters who are responsible for their welfare, nor protected by stringent laws from ill treatment. They are nominally free, like white people, and can be thrown into the streets to starve, without pensions or public relief, when nobody happens to need their services or when they are old and are displaced by the young.”

With that, he was ready to leave the country but when he and his wife got into a car accident, she was injured and they were forced to remain in South Africa for five more weeks, which is when Shaw wrote this story. In his preface to the short story, he writes, “I was inspired to write this tale when I was held up in Knysna for five weeks in the African summer and English winter of 1932. My intention was to write a play in the ordinary course of my business as a playwright; but I found myself writing the story of the black girl instead.” His story reads as a kind of fairy tale, focused on a young black girl, educated by missionaries, who goes on a literal journey seeking God.

Playwright Lisa Codrington has taken this story and begins it as Shaw did – with a missionary and her young African convert. The missionary has decided to return to England, mostly because she can’t bear to answer one more question from the Black Girl who keeps asking her pesky questions about the Bible – like the practicalities of how exactly the Ark worked, and why did God need to rest after only six days? The missionary gives her a Bible and tells her to find God, that only He can possibly answer all of her questions. And so she sets out in search of God. Along the way she meets several versions of God, a Conjurer who would rather give good advice but finds people only listen to him when he performs magic tricks, and other well-known (and not so well-known) figures from the Bible, each of whom she challenges and questions in order to find answers. She also meets a caravanning group of British scientists, who have no belief in God but have different kinds of answers to her questions. And when she meets their Black bearer, the Black Girl finds a new path to understanding.

A comic look at all of the things you were told never to talk about in polite conversation – the Bible, God, racism, slavery, colonialism, colonization, assimilation, feminism, voice appropriation – and all in under an hour.

Shaw Symposium

July 22-24
Scholars and fans of Bernard Shaw join together to hear academic papers and participate in discussions. Includes: two Shaw plays, parking, reception and picnic lunch. From $260. Students $150.

Shaw Seminar

August 4-7
The Shaw’s premier adult education experience. Enrich your understanding of the work on our stages through discussions with artists, writers, scholars, and fellow participants. Includes: six plays, lunches, reception, presentations and parking. From $780.

Book Beyond the Stage events at 1.800.511.7429.

Amazing production. A highlight of my summer theatre so far!
– Facebook

Powerful & though-provoking piece.
– Twitter

One of the best plays we’ve seen in years.
– Facebook

Quirky. Creative. Fabulous stage set.
– Twitter

… I and the balance of a very large audience, could not stop laughing from start to finish. If you want to enjoy a great day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, catch this play before or after lunch, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
– TripAdvisor

This year The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God was both funny and interesting, with very fine acting. It was fun to see all the imaginative entrances they devised in the small stage space.
– TripAdvisor

It was very cleverly written and the lead was enchanting. Set and the entire cast made for perfect theatre.
– TripAdvisor