SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The Saint John Theatre Company’s first ever artist-in-residence is breaking ground by bringing the stories of local Black historical figures to the stage.

Write Clyde Wray is in the process of bringing Saint John’s Black history from the page, to the stage.

“I’ve taken on the idea of bringing these characters to life, to let them speak in their own voices as it were,” says Wray.

The local poet and playwright has been chosen as the Saint John Theatre Company’s first ever artist-in-residence.

He’s now working on a production shining a spotlight on Black historical figures from New Brunswick’s Port City, whose stories too often go untold.

The project, tentatively titled ‘We Were Here’, will be staged next February, during Black History Month.

“I went and did research and had research done, and I was amazed at the amount of history,” says Wray. “Being from New York, why would I know? But the amount of history that Saint John isn’t aware of.”

The idea for the project came after the Black Lives Matter rally in Saint John, which drew thousands to the city core in support of the movement.

Wray teamed up with Stephen Tobias, the Executive Director of the Saint John Theatre Company, to talk about what they could do to keep the momentum going.

“That to me is the kind of thing we can do well,” says Tobias. “It’s the kind of thing we should do. It speaks to our community. It elevates the history, and the impact of the Black history in Saint John, so we’re doing it.”

The production will be performed live and be live-streamed when it hits the BMO Studio Theatre stage next year.

“I really want people to really have true dignity in their city, and to understand that what was hidden in the vaults is very valuable,” says Wray.

Shining a spotlight on Saint John stories that often go unrecognized and untold, and bringing them to centre stage.