d'bi.young: the ultimate storyteller

28 Nov 2009


Award-winning Jamaican-Canadian dub poet, storyteller and actor d'bi young is an overall performing arts phenomenon. She is known for such performances as her outstanding role in the 2005 production of ''Da Kink in my Hair created by Trey Anthony and her defining play Blood.claat – the first play in her Three Faces of Mudgu trilogy.

AfroToronto.com recently touched base with d'bi young to catch up on what she’s been up to and to ask her about her performance scheduled for tonight (Fri. October 30th) in the Distillery District as part of the Canwest Cabaret Festival.

It’s immediately evident that the mother of two (5 year-old and a 10-month old) is a master at multi-tasking. On top of being a full-time mom, d'bi young is currently working on her Masters at Guelph and runs her own dub theatre youth mentorship program --- anitAFRIKA! dub theatre.

“I’m working with 13 people whose ages range from 19 to 60 and basically I teach them how to write dub solo shows using these principles that I’m developing right now, and been developing for the last 3 years, called the ORPLUSI principles of story-telling. Which are orality, rhythm, personal is political, political is personal, language, urgency, sacredness and integrity. [These are] guiding principles towards the creative process. That’s the most exciting thing for me because I’m at Guelph as well doing my Masters developing theory around oral storytelling and traditions that come out of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora” as she tells AfroToronto.com.

Developing the residency program at anitAFRIKA! dub theatre is a long-cherished dream of hers in the process of realization. “My dream’s always been to have a school so I feel that the theatre is a choice in that direction” young says. She is a big believer in the creative potential of everyone. Young believes that we are all are in a way conditioned. As the daughter of one of Jamaica’s pioneering dub artists --- Anita Stewart, young feels that she may have become a storyteller with special abilities because she was told that she had special abilities.

“I really do believe that we’re all storytellers. I mean not everybody could do it professionally but I think that we all have a responsibility to acknowledge that we’re storytelling in whatever it is that we choose to do. The minute we acknowledge that then we can make choices around how we actually communicate with people.”

As an Afro-Caribbean Diaspora woman, d'bi young sees herself as perpetuating a long tradition of storytelling. “I want to learn as much as I can about that process and want to investigate how that was done among people who have oral traditions” she adds.

Tonight, d'bi young celebrates the tradition of old-school dub by performing with dear friends and musical veterans Rakesh Tewari and Ian De Souza and Beau Dixon. The one-hour dub session will start at 10:30pm. The Canwest Cabaret Festival takes place at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto’s Distillery District.

“I do a lot of experimental stuff, I do my rock thing, my hip hop thing, it’s all dub poetry as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been feeling a bit of a combination of nostalgia and feeling that I want to go back to the first dub sound” says d''bi young.


The Canwest Cabaret Festival runs until Sunday, November 1, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, located at 55 Mill Street , Building 49, in the Distillery Historic District. Ticket prices: Concerts $20. Buy 3 concerts and save 20%. Tickets are available by calling the Young Centre box office at 416.866.8666 or online at www.youngcentre.ca or www.canwestcabaret.ca.

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