Luke Reece is a 2015 graduate of York’s Theatre program, where he minored in Creative Writing and took courses in Devised Theatre and Playwriting along the way. Today, he is working as Obsidian Theatre Company’s full-time Producer, while still supporting artists with his own company, Little Black Afro Theatre, and facilitating conversations with young-in-craft artists across the country through Dark Nights.
One of the highlights of Luke’s time at York was having the opportunity to experience the interdisciplinary nature of the Theatre program. “I learned about how every single physical part of a production functions,” he says, speaking of his first-year crew shifts. However, the two courses that stand out the most to Luke are Theatre Management and Contemporary Canadian Theatre. “You need to know who is doing what, where, and how. These two courses that I took in my third year played an important role in where I am today.” Luke’s interest in the djembe led him to take music classes to further his skills, and his passion for writing plays, poetry, and short fiction resulted in a minor in Creative Writing. “The bottom line is that it’s hard to work and live as an artist by just being one thing,” he notes. “I crafted my degree at York in a way that has allowed me to wear multiple hats when necessary.”
After completing his first year at York, Luke’s long-time friend Ryan Ovas pitched him the idea of Little Black Afro (LBA) – a theatre company that would stage Luke’s original work and host fundraising and charity events. LBA launched in Streetsville, Mississauga with a double bill of two of Luke’s plays, and has since grown into a company that explores artistic collaboration both on and off the stage. “What started as a platform for my own voice is now a home for dozens of theatre artists who are beginning to develop their careers,” he says. “A real community has started to form, and I love it.” Luke is backed by Cesar Ghisilieri – the company’s resident photographer, York U Design grad Erika Madsen (BDES ‘15) – the graphic designer, and his fellow Theatre grad Steph Raposo (BFA ‘15) – LBA’s Technical Director and Luke’s partner-in- creative.
Since graduating, Luke has received funding from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council for projects with LBA, and his own play development. His play ‘Definition’ won the Robert Beardsley Award for Young Playwrights presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto in October of 2015. That same month Luke co-founded a salon-style conversation series called Dark Nights with Wayne Burns, bringing together artists of all disciplines to engage in dialogue about artistic processes and lifestyles.
After becoming the Toronto Poetry Slam (TPS) Grand Champion in 2017, Luke went on to captain the 2017 TPS team that competed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and placed first in the country. In 2018 he went on to compete individually against the best Slam Poets in Canada and placed second. He has facilitated workshops, performed, and hosted events for Young People’s Theatre, Crow’s Theatre, The Paprika Festival, CANVAS Arts Action Programs, Union Station, DAREarts, Soulpepper Theatre, Playwrights Guild of Canada and the International Festival of Authors. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.
For Luke, the training at York gave him the confidence and the skills to go out into the industry and start creating and collaborating. He strives to share authentic and engaging stories with audiences through his work as a producer, playwright, poet and educator