Q

Why playwright Yolanda Bonnell asks that only people of colour review her play Bug

'I do a lot of work in terms of decolonizing theatre... and for me this was one of those steps — taking away the colonial lens,' said Bonnell in a conversation with q's Tom Power.
Yolanda Bonnell's groundbreaking play, Bug, returns to the stage at Theatre Passe Muraille. (Gilad Cohen)
Listen11:52

Yolanda Bonnell is a two-spirit, Ojibwe/South Asian performer and playwright who's taking a stand with her play Bug, which is on stage now at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. She's made one request from the media: that only Indigenous, black or other people of colour review her play.

"There is an aspect to cultural work — or in our case, artistic ceremony — which does not align with current colonial reviewing practices," Bonnell said in her official statement. "In order to encourage a deeper discussion of the work, we are inviting critiques or thoughts from IBPOC folks only. There is a specific lens that white settlers view cultural work through and at this time, we're just not interested in bolstering that view, but rather the thoughts and views of fellow marginalized voices and in particular Indigenous women."

Yolanda Bonnell in the q studio in Toronto. (Vivian Rashotte/CBC)

Bonnell joined host Tom Power live in the q studio to discuss what prompted her decision and what kind of reaction she's received since making this statement.

"I do a lot of work in terms of decolonizing theatre... and for me this was one of those steps — taking away the colonial lens," said Bonnell.

Bug is on stage now at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto until Saturday, Feb. 22.


Download our podcast or click the 'Listen' link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Yolanda Bonnell.

— Produced by Kaitlyn Swan

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