Crossfield House Productions is back with its new show Ninety Four, a powerful and multi-layered tale about two kids who are trying to find their way back to love. Playing this weekend ONLY at the Alumnae Theatre, Ninety Four is a play you don’t want to miss! I got to send some questions over to writers, producers, directors, and stars (yes, they do it all) Sheronna Osbourne and Troy Crossfield about Ninety Four, their process, and how important representation is in theatre. Enjoy!
I’d love to know a bit about your process, especially because it’s collaborative. What’s your first step when starting to create something like “Ninety Four?”
Sheronna: Usually we start by sharing personal stories, memorable moments and notable events we remember. Because Ninety Four is a show that incorporates a lot of music and fashion references we knew that we wanted to give those elements “a life of their own” within the show too so we came up with a list of our favorite songs from 1994 and found a way to use them in the story.
Troy: We have fun!!. We throw ideas back and forth, and ‘play in the process. The stories we tell are authentic to our own lives and the ones that aren’t we collaborate on to tell a true ‘in story experience’. Our friends and family members also influence the stories we tell, because our lives are literally television shows. We have the chance as the writers to pull characters in from the good, the bad and ugly from our ‘everyday’ experience.
Your play celebrates Caribbean culture and the migrant experience, how do you see this culture manifest where you live and what effect did it have on writing this piece?
Sheronna: Living in Toronto, Caribbean culture is everywhere! From food, to music, to fashion. Growing up in a Jamaican household, playing music on Saturday morning while cleaning, my uncles playing a heated game of dominos or taking bus trips to New York to do back to school shopping were real life experiences and they fit perfectly into the Ninety Four story.
Troy: Toronto is a melting pot of so many different cultures. I grew up in the suburbs where a lot of my friends were from Caribbean homes and we shared the same stories… of Sunday dinners, getting whoopings, going to NY for shopping trips. We we’re a tribe…and even though we had different addresses we all operated under the same system. You knew who was going to get in trouble when their mom came looking for them in the party LOL It’s so important for us to live our stories on stage so folks can get a taste of what our homes look like.
Out of the playlist of songs you put together for this production, which song was the most influential in your life and why?
Sheronna: “ting a ling” – Shabba Ranks, I’ve been dancing and singing along to this song since I was a little girl. I love my Jamaican heritage and this song has always been a staple in my home and on my gym playlist lol.
Troy: “Keep Your Head Up’ – Tupac. There are songs that you listen to and there are specific songs that you feel. ‘Keep Your Head Up’ celebrates and encourages the black woman, while sending a strong message to the men to do better. This song is filled with so many messages; and growing up with five sisters, a mother, no brothers I relate to this song in many ways, seeing my mother struggle, and the things we went through as a family. My mission is to use my gifts to take care of family and break stereotypes of the black man not being a good father to their children. I am.
Your play takes place in two different decades, now almost three decades away from that second date:
- what is something that’s changed that makes you happy or excited
Sheronna: Technology! Though I admire how we used to truly live in the moment back then, I do love a good instagram reel recap!
Troy: The fact that I don’t have to tape music videos anymore…or my favorite song on the radio.. Lol I have the ability to listen to Spotify or watch Youtube. I used to have to fix cassette tapes when they got broken lol I was really hoping for flying cars by this time… but will have to wait on that. Lol
2. How do you think Tawni and Marcus would be doing right now?
Sheronna: Ironically, we’ve actually added a scene which shows Marcus and Tawni in 2022! And they are thriving! They are successful business owners and their son Marcus junior is somewhere making tik tok videos (spoiler alert lol)
Troy: I think Marcus got the tools he needed to be a good father, a good husband which would make a ‘happy wife’ happy life scenario lol .When I think about the men who had a solid father figure in their life… it totally changed the outcome for them. I think this would allow Marcus and Tawni to have a happier ever after.
What would it mean to your younger self to see a show like this on stage?
Sheronna: Representation. Seeing Black Caribbean men and women on stage would have encouraged me to pursue a career in entertainment at an earlier age.
Troy: I would’ve been going after my dreams with no fear. As a kid, sometimes you think things are impossible…but when you are able to see someone else do it. It encourages you to dream big. We give so many nuggets on this stage about life… and sometimes you just need to see yourself on stage and know that you are not at the end of your story…but just the beginning. There’s just one more performance of Ninety Four tonight at Alumnae Theatre so get your tickets right away! For tickets and more information visit: Ninety Four – Toronto Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite