“I am the eternal optimist!” UWindsor welcomes playwright Leslie McCurdy for a live performance

The University of Windsor welcomes actor, singer and playwright Leslie McCurdy to its virtual stage on February 16 as part of its celebration of Black History Black Futures.

McCurdy will perform her solo piece, Things My Fore-Sisters Saw, in a Microsoft Teams Live event.

“It’s nice to be able to go and perform live,” says McCurdy, who plays four historic black female figures who have shaped change in Canada.

McCurdy admits that although her performance is available online, being in front of any live audience after the latest round of pandemic limitations is positive.

“Things opened up enough that we could get enough people together to come in and do some live stuff,” McCurdy says. “Some places have a small audience that starts in a few weeks, some places just go live. It’s a hybrid model that at least gets me back on stage, so I’m glad we’re moving in that direction.

Portrayals of McCurdy include Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved woman who was convicted of burning down much of Montreal in 1734, Rose Fortune, North America’s first female police officer who helped freedom seekers s settling in the Nova Scotia town of Annapolis Royal, Mary-Ann Shadd, the first North American woman to edit and publish a newspaper, and Viola Desmond who adorns our $10 bill and is praised for refusing to leave the Whites-only section of a theater in Nova Scotia in 1946.

McCurdy describes the play as “an important story, revealed as personal experiences”. She says stories are important because “each of us is the product of those who came before us.”

2022 marks McCurdy’s 25th touring season. She plans to perform in Orangeville, Ont., in March to another hybrid theater audience with a 40% in-person capacity limit.

“Hopefully, as things start to calm down with the pandemic, we can fully jump into the live show,” McCurdy told CTV News, hoping the end of the restrictions is near. “I am the eternal optimist! I remember 100 years ago after the pandemic, it was the period that we historically called the Roaring Twenties, when the arts, fashion, science and technology of the time were just taking off.

McCurdy is an international entertainer named Windsor Artist of the Year in 2014 and Performing Artist of the Year in 2000.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a teaching certificate from the University of Michigan and has worked as a choreographer and teaching assistant during residencies in Detroit.

McCurdy says she has several in-person school performances in Michigan next week, with more plans in the United States next year, adding that she looks forward to the pandemic ending safely.

“With freedom comes responsibility and yes, we have individual freedoms to some degree, but you also have a responsibility to do what’s right for the whole community,” adds McCurdy. “I’m excited for next year when things have a chance to fully open up if we do what we need to do now to really get through the virus completely and not just get through this wave.

The University of Windsor show will start at 1 p.m. on February 16. The event will continue until 2:30 p.m. McCurdy will then take questions from the audience.

Register for the event here.

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