Djanet Sears

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Djanet Sears, playwright

Canada's 1998 Governor General's English Language Literary Award winner for Harlem Duet, Djanet Sears is a tour-de-force and one of the leading African Canadian writers for the stage. She is an award-winning director, and has several acting nominations to her credit for both stage and screen. Some of this includes pieces written by her; The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God and Harlem Duet, which was the first production written and directed by a black woman at the Stratford Festival (2006).[1]Her own work explores the passionately complex spaces where race and gender intersect.

Sears is a founding member of Obsidian, and one of the driving forces behind the AfriCanadian Playwrights' Conference Festival, a celebration and examination of African diasporic writing for the stage in Canada. She is also deeply committed to the preservation of Black theatre history in this country, a history that goes back to the mid-19th century.


Sears was born in London, England in 1959 to a Carribean mother and Guyanese father.[2] At the age of 15, she moved to Saskatchewan with her family, then to Oakville, Ontario the next year, before finally settling in Toronto. She graduated with a BFA in theatre from York University, in addition to studying at the Canadian Film Centre and at NYU. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at the University College, University of Toronto. It was after a trip to Africa that Sears came across an area called Djanet, which prompted her to change her name from Janet to Djanet. It was here that she was inspired to write Afrika Solo. This play won her some recognition and two years later Harlem Duet, a prelude to Shakespeare's Othello, was produced at the Tarragon Theatre by Nightwood Theatre 1997.[3] Harlem Duet has since become her most critically acclaimed work.


  • Afrika Solo (1987)
  • Double Trouble (1988)
  • The Mother Project (1991)
  • Who Killed Katie Ross (1995)
  • Harlem Duet (1997)
  • The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (2003)

Selected Directing Credits

  • The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (Mirvish Productions, 2003/2004). [4]
  • Harlem Duet (Blue Heron Theatre, 2002). [5]
  • The Wonder of Man (Nightwood Theatre, 1992). [6]
  • Dark Diaspora… in Dub (Toronto Fringe Festival, 1990). [7]
  • Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots (Groundswell, May Works and From the Ground Up, 1989). Marcus, Afua. Ella and Jennifer (Groundswell, 1989). [8]
  • A Streetcar Named Desire(Canadian Actor’s Equity Association, Talent over Tradition, 1989). [9]
  • Copper Tin Can (Groundswell, 1988). Shakes, Cabaret Productions (York University, 1982). [10]


  • Governor General’s Literary Award – Harlem Duet (1998) [11]
  • Dora Mavor Moore Award -Outstanding New Play or Musical, Outstanding Direction- Harlem Duet (1998) [12]
  • Floyd S.Chalmers Award -Outstanding New Play -Harlem Duet (1998)[13]
  • Martin Luther King Jr Achievement Award (2003)[14]
  • Timothy Findley Award (2004)[15]

Other Works

  • Editor - Testifyin’: Contemporary African Canadian Drama (2000)[16]
  • Editor - Tellin’ It Like It Is: A Compendium of African Canadian Monologues for Actors (2000)[17]