|June 15 Master Class with d’bi young: Process, Performance, and Pedagogy of Dub Theatre
by Jennifer VincentLocate your breath, find yourself within it, and direct it towards the hard-working parts of your physical being which require a little more attention as you prepare to share your story. The centring exercise with which D’bi Young began her June 15 master class was meditation for storytellers, and it set the stage for a highly engaging morning which would spark creativity by emphasizing the fundamental importance of play. Using our bodies as our interpretive medium, we, the participants, worked together in groups to represent memories of joy and watershed moments, and then performed each member’s story for the rest of the class.
The afternoon session was all about introspection, as participants sat beneath the ‘tree of me’, a representation of the grounding parts of self – past, present and future – which can be tapped into as we compose and tell stories which are meaningful to us. D’bi also took us through the method styled “S.O.R.P.L.U.S.I.”: Self-knowledge, Orality, Rhythm, Political content & context, Language of communication, Urgency, Sacredness, and Integrity*. Participants reflected on how these “considerations,” many of which lend themselves to self-directed questions like, “What stimulates/ moves me?” and “What stories are bubbling in my body?”, can nourish the storytelling process.
For me, the class was nothing short of enlightening. D’bi Young not only offers a singular and rousing experience for her storytelling audience, she is also a gifted educator who has inspired me through her fervour, talent, and love.
Behind the Scenes: “The Sorplusi Method” A masterclass with d’bi young (The New Groundswell Festival Nightwood Theatre)
By Megan Mooney
Although it’s a method about creating art, I think it’s the kind of thing that is useful for everything, for just living life in general. This would be as useful for a lawyer as it is for a playwright I think. If I were to sum up what the two-day class was for me, I’d say it was a two-day session on rooting myself and starting to figure out what it means to me to live my life with integrity.
The first day is spent almost entirely on developing / improving self-knowledge. The second day focused a bit more on how to use that knowledge to root yourself and develop whatever you do (art practice, or general everyday life) from that base.
The sorplusi method is actually an acronym. It stands for self-knowledge, orality, rhythm, political content and context, language, urgency, sacredness, and integrity. The method itself is about using these things as the basis for creative development. The method also focuses on being accountable and taking responsibility for your work and actions.
It’s hard to describe the experience of the workshop. It was amazing. It was intense. It was enlightening. I have no doubt that it would improve the development of work.
If you’ve ever seen d’bi young on stage you’ll know that she’s got amazing energy and presence. That’s no different in a teaching role. She is dynamic. She is a powerhouse. She is a sight to behold. In fact, listening to her talk often ended up feeling like being at a performance. I never had the temptation to turn away, I was so into her ‘performance’.
Now, this isn’t a class, in a classroom, with desks and the like. We as participants sat in a circle, most on the floor, but with the option of sitting on a chair if you find sitting on the floor too uncomfortable. You could almost say it was a group of people communing and connecting as they learned.
The whole experience was intense, but on the second day it got so intense for me that I had to leave early. We did a meditation, then we did a regression to the age of seven, we met and spoke to that seven year old child. Seven was not a good year for me.
But the purpose of the exercise, to access the stories within us, was well understood, and I was glad for the experience of it. Unfortunately the experience of that particular moment for me was such that eventually I had to leave, I needed some air and some alone-time to process.
You might think that having to leave a workshop early would be a mark against the workshop, but I actually think that it was a mark of how effective it was. Tools to tell stories are great, but the tools to access those stories will ultimately prove to be invaluable.