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Ray Strachan sees change in Winnipeg theatre

The BRMCD/09 grad and theatre artist is currently starring in MTC's The Mountaintop

February 28, 2024 — 

“Black stories have not been put at the forefront on big stages historically,” says Ray Strachan [BRMCD/09], who plays the lead role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in The Royal Manitoba Theater Centre’s (MTC) production of The Mountaintop. Strachan is a graduate of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management’s Bachelor in Recreation Management and Community Development (BRMCD).

“It’s great to be able to be on this big stage and share this show with many black folks in the audience,” says Strachan.

The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, is a re-imagination of Dr. King’s last night on the eve of his assassination in 1968, runs at MTC until March 9, 2024.

“There is a realization of the weight of the story, especially this time of year,” said Strachan. “It’s great that I can go in the theatre and see a lot of black faces that you usually don’t see in the theatre.”

Strachan says while February is a great time to spotlight these conversations, it’s important to ensure they continue year-round, and that messages of representation are shared all year long.


Cherissa Richards and Ray Strachan in The Mountaintop. Photo by Dylan Hewlett.

Cherissa Richards and Ray Strachan in The Mountaintop. Photo by Dylan Hewlett for MTC

When not performing, auditioning and directing, Strachan, a theatre artist, works with non-profit organizations and communities teaching theatre. He says much of his passion stems from his time in the BRMCD program—particularly the passion of long-time senior instructor and fieldwork program coordinator Colleen Plumpton.

“She has a passion for not only our craft but for getting it out in the community and sharing that passion for whatever you do,” says Strachan. “It is very contagious.”

Strachan says he took those lessons with him into his theatre career and now brings it with him on the administrative side of the arts.

Strachan, an avid sports fan and former athlete himself, is bringing two interests together for his next project, directing King James by Rajiv Joseph, a play about sports fandom, LeBron James and the friendships formed around season tickets. Strachan says arts and sports may seem separate to many but in his view they’re very similar.

“You’ve got to be very disciplined and self-sufficient in both,” Strachan says. “In sport and art you’re constantly trying to get better because if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

Working both on stage and behind it, Strachan says he is seeing positive changes in the Winnipeg theatre scene and the larger industry in terms of representation.

“It’s not just about the actors and the writers, but who’s doing hair and makeup, who’s doing costumes, who’s designing these shows,” says Strachan. “A lot of awareness has been brought forth and I think there is a lot of movement to change that.”

Strachan says many rightfully want to see the changes happening faster but for the moment he is happy to see some movement forward.


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