artists-in-residence: patience adamu, anthony ‘m q’ chin, sharri ‘c-bone’ chin, polina chinkarenko, cara eastcott, chanel fyffe, jason julien, funmilda ‘lola’ lawson, casandra london, josue maya, jerome morgan, cassandra walker
article in the toronto star
article in inside toronto
in summer 2007 i was invited by rea mcnamara on behalf of art starts to co-facilitate a group of emerging artists from across ontario. the result was a collective collaboration we titled PN numero uno: jinch malrex. the piece featured the voices of young people residing in various toronto communities designated as ‘priority neighborhoods’ who were learning how to give and receive love within a microcosm of violence, generosity, loneliness, hope, self-esteem and self-awareness. the fictitious neighbourhood of jinch malrex has heart and soul, strengthened by its community centre and the youth trying to build a better life for themselves and their society.
in the summer of 1993 I moved to canada. I was fifteen years old. my mother enrolled me in the fresh arts creative writing program (a province-wide summer arts initiative that included programs in theatre, dance, music, visual arts, and creative writing). it was here that I received my first exposure to mentee-ship in the arts in toronto. I enrolled in the same program the following year, and the year after that. I can think of a few of canada’s prominent young artists who were mentored in that program including: trey anthony (da kink in my hair), kardinal offishall (international hip hop artist), and j wyze (national radio disc jockey).
fast forward to the dub theatre program of summer 2007. i followed the same concept as fresh arts: provide training and teaching opportunities for young people and they will excel as future leaders in society. pn numero uno: jinch malrex was a dub/rap theatrical piece developed collaboratively by da urban griots of t-dot: a collective of storytellers who first came together as learners in the art starts summer dub theatre program. the ten week long exploration was conceptualized and co-ordinated by rea mcnamara and I designed and directed it. we followed a program based on the then four elements of dub poetry: language, rhythm, political content and orality. this program was crucial in the expansion of the four main principles of dub into the eight principles of the sorplusi method. theatre/music practitioners such as weyni mengesha, amina alfred, joseph pierre and nation gave willingly of their crafts to lead the young people in training workshops.
the emerging artists involved in the program excelled as creators and storytellers, writing and performing from a place of personal experience. all the writing they produced was original. their courage was evident in the piece and was a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.
after facilitating the program, i decided to found anitafrika dub theatre in 2008. jinch malrex was my first artist residency experience and this led to the conceptualization of the the year-long artist residency that is now YEMOYA.
da urban griots collective poem
we storytellers we griots we together sing
riddim movement liberating dub
di pounding powah of self-actualized blood
real recognized real that’s real talk
brothaz gettin outlined wit chalk
snippets, fragments, pieces of life
heart felt truth connects all walks of life
everything we’re doing
important issues that we go through
violence, stereotypes, conflicts we see everyday
different people from different walks of life connecting together
struggles, wrongs and rights in different ways
creatively making a story for change
honesty and reality: the beginning of change
an awakening of the mind is what we need in this day and age
so let’s keep our focus on the sky
the third eye reaching, feeling, ready to fly
it’s ok to cry
suffering a reality
you gotta live by your own rules, don’t commit a fatality
life is divine, it’s all within your attitude and your mentality
don’t care what people say, express yourself in your own way
make your own decisions and it will help you in some way
what we are we’ve always been, we’ve only forgotten the light that wisdom brings…
we shine in the glint of all those asides
we storytellers we griots we together sing