'Say what you want to say': Theatre pioneer Djanet Sears shares her advice for young artists

The award-winning playwright and director has a simple but powerful message for young artists looking for inspiration: just do it.

The award-winning playwright and director has a simple but powerful message of inspiration

Djanet Sears's advice for aspiring artists


4 years ago
"Steal a minute a day. Write a sentence a day. In three years you'll have a full play." 1:17

Djanet Sears is a woman who needs no introduction. The award-winning playwright, director, producer and actor made history in 1990 when her theatre anthology Afrika, Solo became the first published play by a Canadian woman of African descent. And right now, she's directing the Soulpepper Theatre's remount of the seminal play for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, written by Ntozake Shange and first staged in 1976.

Clearly, Sears knows a thing or two about pushing yourself to create powerful work no matter the odds. So we knew she would have some invaluable words to share with young artists looking for inspiration.

"If you really want to create, there are a number of ways to do it," she says. "There's no one right way. But one way that might encompass all of them is what I call the Nike method: just do it."

"Just write what you want to say about it — not what you think other people want you to say, not what your parents want you to say, not what your friends think you should be saying. Say what you want to say about it."

for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Written by Ntozake Shange. Directed by Djanet Sears. Presented by Soulpepper Theatre. To June 3. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto. www.soulpepper.ca


Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.


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