Playwright Donna Michelle St. Bernard offers up a family show that’s a conversation starter

Rosie Awori

There has been a buzz of anticipation surrounding Geordie Theatre’s production of Reaching for Starlight. The play is ready to be launched on April 26 at Concordia University’s D. B. Clarke Theatre.
Inspired by the film Black Ballerina, artistic director Mike Payette commissioned Donna-Michelle St. Bernard to write a play that would translate across the Canadian demographic.
Reaching for Starlight has been three years in the making and is being touted as Geordie’s biggest production to date, featuring an illustrious cast of 12 performers.
It is a story about the way we move in the world, an urgent portrait of a young girl’s journey of breaking barriers and illustrated through the glorious infusion of theatre and ballet, contemporary and hip hop dance.
Reaching for Starlight is a sensorial tour-de-force featuring some of the country’s most dynamic young and established artists together on one stage.
Reenie wants to dance like her mother did before her. Along with her classmates, she believes she has what it takes to earn the coveted solo role at the year-end recital. But when she discovers that Maestra is not holding everyone to the same standard, Reenie begins a quest to investigate why her friend Maia is being counted out. If competition makes us stronger, then when is the moment when winning doesn’t always mean coming out on top?
“The play is a contemporary piece that shows that young people are aware of the world they live in, and they too can be agents of change.” Mike Payette said in an interview with the CONTACT.
Although the play was inspired by the American story Black Ballerina, the writer, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, took time to ensure that it is a story multi-cultural Canadian audiences can relate to.
Speaking to the CONTACT, St. Bernard said, “it is a family show, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tackle real world problems. The children in the play are inquisitive, they are aware of what is happening around them and they too can recognize injustices.”
“My biggest hope for this piece is that it will be a conversation starter, which, after the play, parents and children will be able to discuss amongst themselves, also that young people will not be ashamed of their curiosity and will speak up and ask questions,” she says.