From Parris with Love

Ride-or-die philosophy informs powerful new work by Toronto's Amanda Parris premiering tonight


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Amanda Parris

Toronto’s Amanda Parris was in the Don Jail waiting to visit a friend. The experience, the questions she asked herself about the other women in the room and their own lives, led to her writing her first play, Other Side of the Game, premiering on Oct. 18 at the Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum and running until Nov. 5.

“I suddenly realized that these were stories I’ve never really seen portrayed anywhere, and I just got really curious about it,” Parris says. 

At the heart of the play is the hip-hop philosophy of ride or die, a loyalty to something or someone no matter what happens.

“It’s the idea that threads it all together, of women who for whatever reason believe that a part of their purpose is to have an undying loyalty to something other than themselves,” she says. 

“What does that require of them? What do they end up growing into? What do they end up sacrificing?”

The play also portrays the idea through the lens of the black civil rights protest movements of both the ’70s and today, but Parris explains that she started working on it before Black Lives Matter even existed. 

“When we were talking about the idea, part of our motivation was to wake people up to realize we should still be fighting today because there were a lot of unresolved issues,” she says. 

“And then Black Lives Matter came around, and we were like, oh OK, the world did it without us, which is great, but it will be interesting how the play is received today.”

In addition to her play, Parris is also putting the final touches on the third season of her CBC-TV show The Exhibitionists, set to premiere this fall.

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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