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The (Re)tired Magical Black Man comes to Halifax

The Halifax Fringe Festival is underway, and one of its shows is getting a lot of attention.

Velvet Wells, also known as the (Re)tired Magical Black Man, has been honoured with an incredible prize.

“In my heart of hearts, I say I am a musical improviser. That is where I get my most joy,” Wells tells CTV Atlantic. “I am a theatre kid who was able to grow up and live my dreams.”

The first big break for Wells came in his 20s, when he landed a role on the iconic children’s show, “Mr. Dressup.”

“I had an opportunity. I auditioned and got two episodes, and more importantly, I got to meet Casey and Finnegan,” he said.

Today, Wells takes their own musical improv show on the road.

“It is a puppet show, though I challenge myself because of 'Mr. Dressup,'” he explained. “I have four main puppets and then two that have a cameo, and it’s such a blast.”

While Wells calls the premise of the show “frenetic,” he explained the concept as a plan to steal world peace from the oligarchs.

Wells is the recipient of the 2022 JRG Emerging Artist Award winner.

After ALS took the life of her partner Justin Grant in 2015, documentary filmmaker Rachel Bower started the JRG Society for the Arts in his memory.

“About two years after Justin died, I was stuck in grief and I had to figure out a way out of it,” Bower tells CTV Atlantic.

The national award is presented to an artist with a disability for a piece of art, and comes with a $3,500 grant.

Wells, who is hard of seeing and hearing, says he is very fortunate to have his work recognized.

“To have the disabled community come together, see who I am and what I’m trying to do, that’s almost more validating,” he said. “When you grow up being different, and different is silenced, to have this platform and people give feedback, it also shows me that the messages are needed in this time and I’m thankful.” Top Stories


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