Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: (Montreal) Single Black Female (Fringe)

SBF Looking for Non-Loser
by Sarah Deshaies

“Let us introduce you to the world of the single black female.”

Single Black Female, or SBF for short, takes on the dating woes of the middle-class SBF in a world laced with stereotypes, disappointment and online dating profiles. Two ladies, both successful, established and wanting of love, get the chance to rail against a lack of eligible partners, inquisitive aunties and dealing with customer service reps with “n***er detector” abilities.

Laetitia Brookes (last seen in Persphone’s great Oroonoko) and Gara Nlandu are entertaining and over-the-top as they fill out their myriad roles in SFB. At heart, their roles are that of an English literature professor and a corporate lawyer. At question is the role of race and class: being single, they say, is a black middle class thing. 

Middle class SFBs have captured that which signifies being upwardly mobile: moving from beauty shops to spas, becoming clotheshorses, picking up degrees. 

Problem is? They can’t find an equally yuppie, handsome, sexy, perfect hubby to get paired with. As one laments, “I’m trying to be Superwoman, but men don’t like me in my cape.”

But there’s the nagging question: if you’re a fully self-actualized woman, why should you need a man?

Angela Stanley, a black woman and a researcher in gender and race at the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, wrote about the “crisis” for unmarried black women in the New York Times in December 2011, confirming that for her and her SBF friends, there are fewer dating options when black women outnumber “black men in our college and professional lives.” She went on: “When a black woman says she is choosing to be single, most people assume she just can’t get a man. “

So, I was keen to watch what seems like one of the few shows at Fringe dealing with the topic of race. But a nagging feeling in my head wonders whether Nu Spyce Productions could have pulled together an equally entertaining script that is relevant to the Canadian SBF, or even Montreal SBF. The play is written by American academic and playwright Lisa B Thompson, with its first staged reading in the late ‘90s, and its New York City premiere in 2006. 

Already, references are beginning to sound slightly dated, and it’s tinged with an American viewpoint. As Stanley wrote in that same op-ed, “[...] black women have been silenced. When we are vocal, we are problems. The marriage debate highlights the need for black women to tell our own stories” 

Thompson has put her voice out there. Who wouldn’t want to hear some of her sisters’ voices? 
There’s a play to be written localizing these race and society issues for Montreal women. Maybe Fringe ‘14?

Single Black Female is at the Montreal Fringe
Read also: Laetitia Brookes first-person piece on the importance of redefining images of Black women.


  1. Why assert that this concern is dated and does not apply to POC in Montreal? How do you know this; where does your information come from?

  2. My mother and I saw the play on June 22 and found it entertaining and despite the distinctly American references, found the subject matter completely relatable. I think its safe to assume that a single black female professional has similar challenges whether she resides in Montreal, New York, Toronto or Chicago. I found it refreshing to have subject matter geared to my specific demographic.


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