By Neil Armstrong
|Photo credit: Crossfield House Productions Troy Crossfield and Sheronna Osbourne are leads in the play 'A Little Black Lie'|
Fresh off it’s run at the DC Black Theatre and Arts Festival, Crossfield House Productions is bringing back its award-winning play, 'A Little Black Lie,' to Toronto's Tarragon Theatre.
Directed by Douglas Prout and written and produced by Troy Crossfield, it will run from July 24-28.
Founded by the writer, actor and producer in 2016, Crossfield House Productions is an independent Black-owned production company in Toronto that specializes in producing theatre and film.
Crossfield, a Jamaican-Canadian who is appearing in season two of the TVJ show, 'Ring Games,' has produced two successful plays that have been performed locally and internationally.
Dahlia Harris wrote and produced Ring Games and then casted him from Toronto to go to Jamaica and play one of their lead roles in the drama series.
He decided to start his company because as an actor in many productions he has seen producers who could not continue their projects because of finances. There was also the issue of the lack of roles in Toronto which led him to bring onboard a group of people he believes in and who are on his team.
“We can do our own thing, let’s put ourselves on stage. Let’s open up the doors for ourselves. A lot of times when we go in these audition rooms we’re not always getting called,” says Crossfield while also noting that it is a great time to be black now to “write our own narratives.”
He plays the male lead, Michael, in 'A Little Black Lie,' while Sheronna Osbourne plays the female lead, Stacey.
Like 'A Little White Lie,' 'A Little Black Lie' pivots around the character Michael Myers who is dealing with identity issues that impact his family, friendships and relationships. This plays out all around him and in the other characters as well.
“It is a mix of comedy and drama and we deal with heavy issues like illness in the family, lies within relationships that come out and he has Stacey that is his love interest in both shows, and just figuring out a way of how to get her in his life and how to keep her in his life once all these lies are exposed,” says Osbourne who is a partner in the company and also a fashion stylist.
Crossfield says what is important for them while they are developing more stories is consistency and they hope to become the Tyler Perry of Toronto.
The cast has 20 actors and Osbourne says the biggest challenge is scheduling rehearsal time but they have gotten into a groove in terms of doing so for specific scenes.
“We have truly grown organically into this family; we’re like brothers and sisters,” says Osbourne who is also the costume designer.
Like Osbourne and other partners in the company, Crossfield wears multiple hats and is “like the Tyler Perry model where he is writing his first shows and then being on stage and directing films.”
“I’ve always taken on those multiple roles just in being multifaceted too – being an actor, being a writer, being assigned to Sony Music as a songwriter it just allows me to work my brain in different areas at the same time.”
When he is in rehearsals he gets to be Michael but if they have a question related to the script he changes from that character to become the writer.
Sometimes Prout will call for the writer or has a question about costumes and both Crossfield and Osbourne have to come out of their characters to provide answers and then return to the roles.
Through humour, gentleness, transparency and Caribbean flavour, their plays discuss forgiveness, acceptance, healing, and moving forward. They have also opened the doors for their audience to have important conversations with their
family and friends.
family and friends.
The company is currently in pre-production mode for its first official film out of Crossfield House Productions which is the film version of the first play, 'A Little White Lie.'
They will begin production of that as soon as the run of 'A Little Black Lie' is over so shooting begins in August.
Osbourne says participating in the DC Black Theatre and Arts Festival was a very good experience for the company.
“It was the first time with some new cast members so it was nice to really jump in. It was personally my first festival experience so it was very fast and furious.”
Crossfield says it was good to see the team going out there as a unit “and travelling together and just really seeing my partners step up into their roles and like, man, this is all on us, from the funding and everything like that and going after funding but we really have to put our stuff together in order to make it work.”
Both actors are promising a lot of drama, laughter and love at 'A Little Black Lie' and a “faith-and-hope dream realized.”
[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, July 18-24, 2019.]