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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.

Amanda Parris

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