About Reception 


Eighty year old Ardell loves funerals. She has begun to plan her own; making her husband Ferdinand uneasy. Today, at the funeral of a family friend, Ardell, Ferdinand and their grandson Warren confront mortality, love and the frailty of life in this witty, heart rending and dreamlike play.



When: December 16th 2020 - January 8th 2021

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Written by Kanika Ambrose

Directed by Virgilia Griffith

Produced by Kanika Ambrose and Winnie Doyle-Marshall


Akosua Amo-Adem as Ivy

Arlene Duncan as Ardell

Araya Mengesha as Warren

Alexander Thomas as Ferdinand

Stage Managed by Ada Aguilar

Sound Designed by Deanna H. Choi

Technical Direction by Steph Raposo

Dramaturgy by  Mel Hague

Music by Kanika Ambrose

Musical Notation by Wagner Pembe

Image and Promotion Design by Flora Nwakobi


This production was made possible through funding from Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.


It was developed as part of playwright's unit and residency with Obsidian Theatre Company.


If you enjoyed this play, please consider donating to Obsidian Theatre Company or Ocama Collective (which provides doula services to black women).

Ways to Donate:

Obsidian Theatre Company -

Ocama Collective -

Cast & Creative

Akosua Amo-Adem

as Ivy

Akosua Amo-Adem has appeared in a variety of plays around the city of Toronto as an actor. Her selected credits including  Soulpepper’s  A Streetcar Named Desire (Eunice); For Colored Girls…( Lady in Green), Father Comes Home From The Wars I II III (Leader/Runaway); Canadian Stage’s Tartuffe (Dorine); Obsidian Theatre and Nightwood Theatre's School Girls: or the African mean girls play (Headmistress Franchise). She was named one of Toronto’s top 10 theatres artist of 2019 by Now Magazine and is on season three and four of the hit  TV show Kim’s Convenience now available on Netflix.

Akosua Amo-Adem

Arlene Duncan

as Ardell

Arlene Duncan is a singer and actor who works in television, film, theatre, radio...and the web. Selected film & television credits include: Designated Survivor, Suits, Degrassi: Next Generation, Good Witch, Titans, The Romanoffs, A Dog’s Story, Emmy award nominated FLINT & the award-winning web series' But I'm Chris Jericho & Teenagers. Her theatre credits include: Sophisticated Ladies, the Dora Award winning productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Who’s Tommy, and her Dora & Toronto Theatre Critics Award winning role of Caroline Thibodeaux in the Dora Award winning musical Caroline or Change. She is the recipient of the 2012 African Canadian Achievement Award in the Arts category, Dora Award nominee for Mama Euralie in Once on this Island (The Musical Stage Company) and was selected as one of the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women {2016). Arlene does the voices of Officer Rabbit on the popular children’s cartoon, Franklin the Turtle and Mama Zungu in Bobo & Kipi but is best known for her 6 seasons as Fatima Dinssa in the CBC comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie. Arlene currently appears as Vera Reed in the BounceTV comedy Marry Me this Christmas and the recurring role of Velma Diggs inthe ground breaking drama Diggstown going into a 3rd season on CBC.

Arlene Duncan

Araya Mengesha

as Warren 

Araya Mengesha is a Toronto born and raised actor. Stage credits include Breath of Kings (Prince Hal/Henry V) and Rice Boy for the Stratford Festival, as well as War Horse and The Lion King (Young Simba) for Mirvish Productions. His screen credits include recurring roles on TV series Anne with an E, Shoot The Messenger, Hemlock Grove, Rogue, and Mystery Hunters; as well as appearances in Hudson & Rex, Man Seeking Woman, and Saving Hope; films include Run This Town, Jean of the Joneses, Cul de Sac, and Nurse.Fighter.Boy. 2018 resident of the CBC Actors Conservatory at Canadian Film Centre. Upcoming: Tiny Pretty Things (Netflix) and Nobody (Universal Pictures)


Alexander Thomas

as Ferdinand

Married to a spouse who works for the Foreign Service, American born Alexander, has lived and worked in London, Berlin and Toronto where he won a Dora Award for Outstanding Performance in the Canadian premiere of BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at Coal Mine Theatre. He was also in the Canadian premiere and award winning production of THE ROYALE at Soulpepper Theatre. As well the world premiere of FOR BOTH RESTING AND BREEDING at Talk is Free Theatre which travelled to Australia for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and has worked in the Toronto Fringe and Summer Works Festivals.


His self-penned solo play, THROW PITCHFORK premiered off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in 2002 and later that same year regionally at Kitchen Theatre Co. in Ithaca, NY.  It returned for a revival production at Kitchen Theatre Co. in 2017. It closed the 2004 Thespis International Monodrama Festival in Kiel, Germany where it won Special Honors Award, and was most recently seen at the National Black Theatre in Harlem for the American Slavery Project and at the Michael Chekhov Theatre Festival in Connecticut.


He frequently works at Kitchen Theatre Co. where he has been seen in productions as diverse as OPUS, BROKE-OLOGY, AFTER ASHLEY, SUNSET BABY, THE WHIPPING MAN and most recently a reprisal of his role in their production of THE ROYALE which also transferred to Geva Theatre Center in Rochester.


Other international credits include ON THE WATERFRONT directed by Stephen Berkoff in London on the West End, The Edinburgh and Hong Kong Arts Festivals, the role of Ross in the Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg`s inaugural production of THE GOAT or WHO IS SLYVIA? 


His training includes the Stella Adler Studio and the Meisner Technique with Richard Pinter.  He is a contributing writer for the American Slavery Project. His play SCHWARZ GEMACHT or HOW KLAUS FOUND HIS BLACKNESS was produced in 2014 at the English Theatre of Berlin and brought back in 2015. 

Kanika Ambrose


Kanika is a Toronto-based playwright and librettist. She was Cahoots Theatre Company's Canada Council Playwright-in-Residence, developing her play “our place” and was Obsidian Theatre Company's Ontario Arts Council Playwright-in-Residence developing her play “Reception.” As a playwright, her work has been presented at Toronto Fringe, Crow’s Theatre’s East End Performance CRAWL, Rhubarb Festival, Black Lives, Black Words, Rising Tides Showcase, SummerWorks Festival and Paprika Festival. 


As a librettist, her work has been presented in Tapestry Opera’s “Tapestry Briefs,” Sparks and Wiry Cries’ “SongSLAM”, and Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia) where her piece, “Anansi and the Great Light,” created with composer Nick diBerardino and the students at Girard College, premiered. 


She has been commissioned by Tapestry Opera and Obsidian Theatre Company to create new opera “Of the Sea” with composer Ian Cusson.


Kanika is a graduate of Ryerson Theatre School and is Artistic Producer of Paprika Festival. She was featured as one of Cahoots Theatre Company's 30 for 30 theatremakers for their 30th anniversary season.

Virgilia Griffith


Virgilia Griffith  is a Toronto based actor. Winner of the Meta Emerging Artist Award for Gas Girls by Donna Michelle St. Bernard. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance for Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears. She was also a Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Outstanding Female in an Independent Theatre Division for her performance of Honesty directed by Jordan Tannahill and a Dora nomination for Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land)(Saga Collectif) by Jeff Ho.  Selected credits include: Guarded Girls (Tarragon Theatre/ Greenlight Arts), Betrayal (Soulpepper Theatre), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ( Soulpepper Theatre), The Wedding Party ( Crow's Theatre), Other Side of the Game (Cahoots/ Obsidian Theatre),  Da Kink In My Hair ( Theatre Calgary/ Nac), How We Are ( Mikaela Davies and Polly Phokeev Productions), Up The Garden Path ( Obsidian Theatre Company). 


Winnie Nwakobi Doyle-Marshall


Winnie Nwakobi Doyle-Marshall is a Toronto-based Producer. She is currently the Education Operations Coordinator at the Institute of Corporate Directors. She was previously the Education Coordinator at Soulpepper Theatre Company.


Winnie is passionate about education, health and wellness and accessibility in diverse communities. Winnie holds a B.A. from York University and is a graduate of Humber College for Arts Administration and Cultural Management. Previous credits include producing the Dora Nominated production, ERASER (RISER Project 2019, Fringe 2016), SCAT (Fringe 2017), directing The Vagina Monologues (York University 2015), assistant directing, producing, and performing in Sweet Dreams (Paprika Festival & Fringe Festival 2012) and performing in This Is My Script (Paprika Festival 2013). 


Ada Aguilar

Stage Manager

As the Stage Manager of Reception, Ada Aguilar is deeply humbled and honoured to be a part of this beautiful production and happy you’re able to experience it in these strange times. 

Past productions include: Private Eyes (lemonTree); The Runner (Human Cargo*2019 Dora Award winner); School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood*2019 Dora Award winner); Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,  Art, August: Osage County, 88 Keys, Noises Off, Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2, & 3 (Soulpepper); Wrong for Each Other (Foster Festival); Risky Phil, Munschtime! (YPT); Wedding Party (Crow’s/ TIFT). Graduate of Glendon College’s Drama Studies and English Studies, and York University’s Concurrent Education Program.

Ada Aguilar Headshot.jpg

Rhoma Spencer

Dialect Coach

Rhoma Spencer - Actor, Playcreator, Director and Comedian is a veteran Theatre Practitioner practicing in Toronto since 2001. She is a graduate of York University with an MFA in Directing 


Acting credits include: Solitudes (ALUNA Theatre), Jean and Dinah (Lordstreet Theatre) Mad Miss, Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine (TA/bcurrent), Stori Ya (bcurrent) and two seasons of the groundbreaking Afri-Canadian sitcom, Da Kink in my Hair for Global TV. Film: Sound of Tears (Short) which received an African Academy Award for Best Narrative Short (Diaspora). The Apartment (TV series Pilot for CCN TV6, Trinidad). Presently acting in the movie Scarborough now in post production. 


Directing credits include: Just Jazz, I Marcus Garvey, Our Lady of Spills, Twilight Cafe for Theatre Archipelago, Carnival Medea- Trinidad, For Colored Girls- USA and many more. In addition to stage, she has been the Artistic Director of Pan Alive, the Steelband Music Festival during Caribana for the last three years. 

Playcreation Credits: Jean and Dinah by Tony Hall with Rhoma Spencer and Susan Sandiford, (1994)  Shango; Tales of the Orishas with Rawle Gibbons (1996),  Bassman (1997), Carnival Medea with Shirlene Holmes (2014). Solitudes- Collective Creation with Bea Pizano (2020).

Rhoma Spencer Headshot.jpeg

Deanna H. Choi

Sound Designer

Deanna H. Choi (she/her) creates original  music, sonic environments, and sound reinforcement systems for stage, screen, and interactive media. Formerly a researcher in behavioural neuroscience, she integrates principles of psychology into her composition and sound design.


Her designs for plays and musicals have taken her across Canada, including the Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Neptune Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Soulpepper, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Tarragon, Coal Mine, Necessary Angel, Crow’s Theatre, The Grand (London), Theatre New Brunswick, Factory, Theatre Passe Muraille, Nightwood, Thousand Islands Playhouse, and the Blyth Festival. She has scored a number of independent films, including Receiver, Prey, and Step Into My Office. She teaches sound design at the National Theatre School of Canada, UBC, McGill, and various other institutions.


She is the 2020 laureate of the Pauline McGibbon Award for Theatre Design (the second sound designer in the award’s history), and has been nominated for the Louis Applebaum Composers Award and a Robert Merritt Award. She is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada, Screen Composers’ Guild of Canada, and SOCAN. 


Follow her @splitbrainsound


Steph Raposo

Technical Director

Steph Raposo is a sound, lighting, and video designer, as well as a full-time venue technician at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre.

Recent Credits: Technical Director, Here Are The Fragments. (The Theatre Centre); Sound Designer, United Way: #Unignorable Installation (Nocturne Halifax); Video Designer, Four Sisters (Paradigm Theatre); Festival Lighting Designer, Paprika Festival.