Art Out and About Toronto – Bleeders in the Watah

They didn’t need to stand.
They didn’t need to stand, so they sat.

Last time they stood, they danced, fell rose and felt.
Not today though.

Today, today boldness defiantly strode into the room, stopped, so everyone could acknowledge boldness’ arrival.
Pulled up a chair.
Looked around and took a seat.

Strength emanated.
Individuality was found.
Unity created.
Honesty, transmitted.

Today, they didn’t need to stand.
So they sat.
And as they sat, they spoke.

That was perhaps the most fitting way to pay homage to my dubopera experience this Saturday past; some rhythmic writing.

Last weekend, I strolled into the Toronto Light Festival-illuminated Distillery District, navigating my way through a sea of selfie-ers to 9 Trinity Street’s Watah Theatre for a workshop reading of the dubopera Lukumi.

Let’s clear the air first: What the hey is a dubopera? Well ladies and gents, damas y caballeros, to be perfectly honest, I am perfectly unsure. What I gathered is that it is a highly political, performative, experimental genre based in dub poetry, that is being used to explore the clement state of our world.

Ah, yes, that leads us to our next logical question: Dub poetry, what is it? Well, dub poetry is a genre that arose from Jamaica in the 1970’s, perhaps best described as:

“A poem that has a built-in reggae rhythm — hence when the poem is read without any reggae rhythm (so to speak) backing […] one can distinctly hear the reggae rhythm coming out of the poem”
-Legendary dub poet Oku Onuora

Now that were all kinda-sorta clear, let us return to the topic at hand: The play, Lukumi. I’ll confess to you again, I had initially presumed I would be bored. I mean, it’s a reading. Of a play. A play that is usually accompanied by movements. And a band. Was I being ripped off?

But all meditations on why I decided to condemn myself to priced boredom on a Saturday night quickly fell away with the start of the reading, as a recording of Trump’s voice entered our faculties, accompanied by a unified chant from the actors, their heads lowered.
A mystical air filled the studio.

“God bless us, and only us. The figurehead concerned itself with only itself.”

Both reading and play use the Pickering Nuclear Plant (up for renewal in 2018) as the jump-off point. From the present we are then flung into a not-so-distant, hypothetical, dystopian future, where human ignorance and folly have resulted in a militant world order and our own global infertility.
To this world is borne a Lukumi, the play’s human protagonist (whose namesake is the Yoruba faith of Santeria), this one, this one is different they say, this one is a bleeder.
The play follows Lukumi as she embarks on a spiritual and physical quest, going through eight principles, going through eight layers within, eight layers below.
Eight layers of truth and introspection that parallel the eight Sorplusi Principles developed by d’bi.young anitafrika (artistic director of the Watah School and the play’s writer), and used globally by artists, educators and change makers.

Here is speaking about the eight principles and what they can do for all of you, all of me, all of us:

I have to sign off now because there is so much to write about this play, about, Watah, the school’s tuition free Professional Artist Development Initiative, Sorplusi; I really need to stop!

You can check out more of Watah and d’bi by following the hyperlinks in this post, or watch for Watah at the following festivals:

Audre Lorde Works-in-Progress Festival: March 13-17, 2017
Word! Sound! Powah! Festival: June 12-16, 2017

Toronto is great!
Inspirate/inspire yourself!


There once was a girl named Nataliya. Med school bound, but no loan to be found. She shed more than one tear, 'twas a terrible year. But amidst all her doubt, an idea fluttered out. You adore self expression, let's explore that obsession!

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