Betty’s House

Written by Nikki Shaffeeullah
Directed by Diane Roberts
Starring Raymond Ablack, Michelle Mohammed, Adele Noronha, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Navtej Sandhu and Jesse Wabegijig 
Stage directions read by Rosalind Goodwin
Please note: this recording is a selection of the full reading and not all cast members appear.

Readings and events are entirely free. If you have the capacity, please consider making a tax-deductible donation in support of the future of feminist art.

Betty’s House weaves together the stories of three women from the same bloodline, in three different lands impacted by colonization, in three different states undergoing major political shifts, across 200 years: Rabia, on an indentured labour ship departing Calcutta, India in 1853; Betty, in Guyana as it begins to undergo the messy process of decolonizing from Britain in 1953; and Zahra, a queer activist in Tkaronto in 2053, navigating a Canada that has just legally abolished prisons. 

About the playwright

Nikki Shaffeeullah (she/her) is a director, writer, actor, facilitator, and activist who creates theatre, film, and poetry. Currently, Nikki is a curator with National Arts Centre – English Theatre, and a resident artist with Why Not Theatre.

Nikki produces artistic work and sector-change projects through her organization Undercurrent Creations, and is a founding member of Confluence Arts Collective. She has held residencies and fellowships with organizations including Canadian Stage Company, The Theatre Centre, SummerWorks and others. Past roles include artistic director of The AMY Project and editor-in-chief of alt.theatre magazine. Nikki holds an MFA from the University of Alberta and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.  A queer Indo-Guyanese settler born and living in Tkaronto, Nikki’s work is informed by a family who loves puns, social justice, music, and sharing food. She believes art should disrupt the status quo, centre the margins, engage with the ancient, dream of the future, and be for everyone.

About the director and cast

Diane Roberts (she/her)

Diane Roberts is an accomplished director, dramaturge, writer and cultural animator, who has collaborated with innovative theatre visionaries and interdisciplinary artists for the past 30 years. Her directorial and dramaturgical work has been seen on stages across Canada and her reputation as a mentor, teacher and community collaborator is nationally and internationally recognized. Diane is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, a 2019 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a 2020 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship award holder. 

Diane’s celebrated Arrivals Legacy Project www.arrivalslegacy.com has birthed new Interdisciplinary works across Canada, throughout the Americas, in the UK, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. This work has allowed her to articulate, cultivate and realise a vision for theatre that encourages Indigenous ways of knowing as a steppingstone to creative expression.

Raymond Ablack (he/him)

Raymond is a Canadian actor and comedian. He studied comedy writing and improvisation at The Second City. He completed a BA in Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson University. And he holds an arts specialty diploma in choral music from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. Raymond’s notable credits include Degrassi (2010), Narcos (2017) and most recently Ginny and Georgia (2021) and Maid (2021). 

[Image Description: A brown man, with stubbled facial hair, slightly smirking at the camera. He’s positioned on a background of red brick with trees in the distance.]

Michelle Mohammed (she/her)

Select credits include: Villager in Chitra (Shaw Festival), Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare BASH’d), Cora in Margaret Reid (Workshop) (Tarragon Theatre), Devisor/Creator in Mahabharata (Workshops) (Why Not Theatre/Shaw Festival), The Handmaid’s Tale (Gilead 3 Prod), Apprentice Assistant Director to Peter Hinton in Oh What a Lovely War (Shaw Festival), Assistant Director to Danielle Wilson in Top Girls (Brock University). 

[Image Description: Michelle is wearing a white ruffled top and gold necklace and is standing against a white background. She has medium length brown hair parted in the middle, and is slightly smiling.]

Adele Noronha (she/her)

Adele is a theatre artist whose heart forever sits on the west coast of two countries at opposite ends of the world. She has worked in various capacities on and off the stage with companies such as Gateway Theatre, Carousel, Touchstone Theatre, Arts Club, Bard on the Beach, Delinquent Theatre, Upintheair Theatre , Frank Theatre , Pandemic Theatre, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Boca Del Lupo, South Asian Arts, Electric Company, Playwrights Theatre Center and Pi Theatre.  Adele is a graduate of Studio 58.

[Image desription: Close up image of a person of mixed-Indian heritage with chin-length black hair, wearing a navy blue v-neck t-shirt and smiling widely at the camera.]

Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah (she/her)

Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah is a Surinamese born, Toronto based actor, writer, director, and producer with a background in theatre, film, television, audio, and visual art. Khadijah is drawn to work that reflects the many intersections of her own identity and the culture at large. Notable acting credits include; The Second Life of Samuel Tyne and The Book of Negroes for audiobook narration, Lila in Kat Sandler’s Bang Bang, Laertes in Ravi Jain’s Prince Hamlet, and Claudette in Trey Anthony’s How Black Mothers Say I Love You for the theatre, Slo Pitch, Coroner, Y The Last Man, The Last of Us, American Gods, What We Do In The Shadows, and Workin Moms for television, Sugar Daddy and Body So Fluorescent for film. As a filmmaker, Khadijah has written, produced, and starred in her own independently created works. Her first short film, P!GS,  a satirical comedy about a cater-waiter that loses her cool after a series of microaggressions is available for streaming on CBC Gem. Her second short film, DEFUND, a social commentary on the Black Lives Matter movements during the summer of 2020, which she co-wrote/directed/produced and starred in premiered at TIFF 2021 with follow up success at VIFF, FNC, ABFF, and several other esteemed festivals. Checkout what Khadijah is up to next or look at pictures of what she’s eating on Instagram and Twitter @djpaulydij.

Navtej Sandhu (she/her)

Navtej Sandhu is a Toronto-based actor, born in the United States; she is also an emerging screenwriter and singer. Her acting credits include Karna in Mahabharata being directed by Ravi Jain at the Shaw Festival, Yara in The Green Line directed by Desirée Leverenz performed at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Tanja Jacobs at Shakespeare in High Park with Canadian Stage and Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet directed by Frank Cox O’Connell in the same production of Shakespeare in High Park. Navtej was also introduced to fight training at York University’s acting conservatory where she graduated with a BFA. She is now in the process of getting her advanced actor combatant at Rapier Wit. She hopes to be able to tell her story and amplify the voices of communities that have had their voices constantly stifled. Navtej’s goal is to continue to create and be a part of projects that she believes in, and that speak to those communities. “Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.”- Ossie Davis

Jesse H. Wabegijig (they/them)

Jesse is an Ojibway from Wiikemikoong Anishnaabek Territory located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Jesse is a playwright, performer, facilitator, dramaturge,  director and sculptor/puppet maker and they were most recently working as a Facilitator and Artist with Clay and Paper Theatre and currently with The Community Arts Guild. Jesse is passionately involved in the preservation of native cultural heritage. They have had the opportunity to work with many historically significant companies that have shaped both the indigenous art and public art sector in Canada. They include: Debajehmujig Storytellers, Shadowland Theatre, the National Arts Centre, Paprika Festival, Jumblies Theatre, and MABELLEarts. They have trained extensively with the Centre for Indigenous theatre where they completed a four year conservatory program.

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