word! sound! powah!
there are certain performers in toronto whose reputation for creating exquisite pieces of theatre often proceed them and d’bi.young is undoubtedly one of them. her newest work plays at the theatre passe muraille mainspace as part of the toronto summerworks festival. word! sound! powah! is the third play in young’s biomyth-monodrama triology entitled sankofa. the first play blood.claat was nominated for five dora mavor moore awards and won for outstanding new play and outstanding female performance. it toured canada extensively and was published by playwrights canada press. the second play benu was originally commissioned by montreal’s la chapelle theatre and was subsequently supported by toronto’s factory theatre.
word! sound! powah! centers on a young dub poet named benu who has found herself swept up in the political spirit of revolution in jamaica in the 1970s. she has been arrested and the play follows her interrogation by constable brown as she recounts how the urge for arts students to express themselves poetically has led to them to imagining, lobbying and fighting for a better world and equality and prosperity for the urban poor of jamaica.
d’bi.young is at her generous heart a storyteller, and a brilliant one, and it is in her ability to create an entire world filled with specific characters that leap immediately to life as she switches from the voices of authority, the promises of politricks, the vibrant rhythms of dub poetry, and the defiant idealism and passion of an exhausted and emotionally ravaged benu that gives such powah to this story.
as an actor, young is absolutely mesmerizing. she gives so much of herself in each character which immediately captivates and can draw even those unfamiliar with the history and politics of jamiaca immediately into this dynamic world. she plays both female and male characters with perfect ease, never relying on stereotypes, but allowing individuality to pour forth from each one with constant integrity.
word! sound! powah! is a story of one people’s quest for justice, equality and freedom for the country that they love. it is a story that celebrates the beauty, eloquence, powah and beat of dub poetry and how it can be used to effectively ignite the fervour for change in the world. it is a story of corrupt law enforcement and lying politicians and empowered revolutionaries who refuse to forget their ancestors. at a time when torontonians have recently witnessed massive injustice on our streets and the stifling of the voices of the people by those sworn to protect them, at a time when canadians fear that their democratic values are not being reflected or enforced in the largest city in their country, word! sound! powah! becomes almost hauntingly relevant.
d’bi.young’s play, theatrically, politically and poetically, is an invigorating and inspiring triumph; don’t miss it!
word! sound! powah! (in association with anitAFRIKA dub theatre) plays at the theatre passe muraille mainspace (16 ryerson avenue) at the following times.
August 7th 12:30 PM
August 8th 5:30 PM
August 10th 8:00 PM
August 12th 10:30 PM
August 13th 3:00 PM
August 14th 8:00 PM
* This review has been reposted from the original which was written during the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.