SHORT BIO

From touring the world as a Dubpoet, to curating international residencies for artists in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa and Europe, to being heralded as a Womxn of Distinction in the Arts, the creative endeavors of African Jamaican D’bi Young Anitafrika are globally celebrated. A triple Dora award-winning published playwright-performer (of nine plays, seven books and seven Dubpoetry albums), director-dramaturge and educator-scholar, Anitafrika is also the creator of the intersectional, decolonialist, queer Black feminist praxis — the Anitafrika Method. She is the founding Artistic Director Emeritus of the Watah Theatre where she taught emerging and established BIQTPOC artists in Canada (2008-2018) and the founding Creative Director of the Anitafrika Retreat Centre where she teaches artists globally. Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience, through her radical interdisciplinary arts practices, Anitafrika is currently engaged in postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching the Processes, Politics and Pedagogies of Black Performance, the Anitafrika Method and Theatre of Ritual (Self) Recovery.

MEDIUM BIO

D’bi Young Anitafrika is a queer Black feminist artist. Canadian Poet of Honor and YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts, she is an internationally celebrated African Jamaican Dubpoet, writer, arts-educator and three time Dora Award winning theatre practitioner, whose trans-disciplinary work explores themes of identity, gender, sexuality, divinity, the erotic, race, class and the human experience. She is the originator of the intersectional creative leadership praxis – the Anitafrika Method – which has been employed by The Stephen Lewis Foundation, The Banff Centre, U of T, MaRS, and other institutions globally. For the last two decades Anitafrika has mentored countless artists in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, South America and Europe through her world-wide performances, speaking engagements and arts-education projects. 

She has performed and lectured extensively, including an address at the United Nations, and has written nine plays, published three collections of poetry, a comic book and produced seven Dubpoetry albums. Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Watah Theatre and Spolrusie Publishing, she continues to foster the professional development of emerging to established artists through the Anitafrika Method. D’bi completed a dance apprenticeship at Coba (Collective of Black Artists) and a playwrights residency at Obsidian Theatre in Toronto Canada in 2017, where she developed her critically acclaimed Orisha Trilogy featuring the plays Esu Crossing The Middle Passage, Mami Wata & the PussyWitch Hunt, & Lukumi: A Dub Opera.

A recipient of nine Dora Nominations, a Canada Council New Chapters Grant to produce Lukumi: A Dub Opera, KM Hunter Theatre award, a Mayor’s Arts award, a Vital People award, a Toronto Leadership Lab Fellow alumni, and a finalist for both the Ontario Premier Arts Award and the William Killbourn Award, Anitafrika has been fronting her Afro-Dub-Fusion band – D'bi. & the 333 – with Sudanese master musician Waleed Abdulhamid for the past several years.  Her most recent projects include: 1. Completing her autobiography Memoir of an Ugly Duckling 2. Pursuing postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London in Performance Making 3. Establishing the Black Performance Groundings at Goldsmiths, University of London — a forum investigating the Processes, Politics and Pedagogies of Black Performance and 4. Travelling the world as a Dubpoet and Keynote Speaker addressing issues of identity, gender, sexuality, divinity, the erotic, race, class and the human experience through her Anitafrika Method.

 

LONG BIO

D’bi Young Anitafrika is a queer Black feminist artist. African Jamaican Dubpoet, playwright, monodramatist, and educator, she is internationally celebrated as a visionary storyteller, a passionate humanist, and a leader in the development of arts education. Her pan-Africanist trans-disciplinary explorations of identity, gender, sexuality, class, and human experience make an indelible mark on the Canadian and global cultural landscape.

She is the published author of nine plays: Once Upon a Black Boy, Androgyne, and Yagayah (co-authored with Naila Keleta Mae); The Sankofa Trilogy featuring: Blood.Claat, Benu, & Word! Sound! Powah!; The Orisha Trilogy featuring: Esu Crossing The Middle Passage, Mami Wata & The PussyWitch Hunt, and Lukumi: A Dub Opera), three collections of poetry (Art on Black, Rivers and Other Blackness Between Us & OYA), seven dub poetry albums (including Wombanifesto made in Cuba, 333 made in South Africa, and Civil Rights Mixtape made in Canada), a comic book set in Jamaica called Shemurenga: Back Supah Shero and a deck of instructional cards containing her Anitafrika Method. Specialising in what she terms Biomyth Monodrama, Anitafrika creates one-person plays comprised of music, poetry, dance, and drama that chronicle the stories of global peoples and our quests for self-actualisation starring complex, multi-dimensional Black womxn protagonists.

Having completed three global performance and teaching tours, Anitafrika has shared the stage with New York times best-selling author and advocate Janet Mock; Zimbabwe’s celebrated singer-songwriter Oliver Mtukudzi; legendary African-American poet Saul Williams; South Africa’s literary wordsmith Rustum Kozain; and renowned Ivory Coast storyteller Werewere Liking. She has also participated in art projects featuring Leonard Cohen, novelist Margaret Atwood, Sri Lankan-Canadian poet Michael Ondaatje, Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan, and world renowned singers Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, and Sarah McLachlan. Anitafrika was invited to be a guest speaker at India’s Inktalks in association with TED where she presented stories of three womxn: a survivor of childhood sexual trauma, an hiv positive womxn, and a young girl coming of age.

A headliner at numerous festivals and conferences worldwide, she has featured at: Goteborg Book Fair, Uppsala International Poetry Festival, the Canadian Writers Summit, The Black Feminist Forum/AWID in Brazil, Thinklandia in Victoria, Poetry Africa in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, Goteborgs Poesifestival, Kosmopolis in Barcelona, Bushfire in Swaziland, Manifesto in Canada and Jamaica, Badilisha in Cape Town, Canwest Cabaret Toronto, Calgary International Folk and Spoken Word Festivals, Vancouver Folk Fest, Havana International Reggae Fest, and Toronto’s International Dubpoetry Festival. She has also appeared on Def Poetry Jam, starred in the Canadian sitcom Lord Have Mercy alongside distinguished Jamaican actor Leonie Forbes, and is an original Dora-nominated lead cast member of ‘da kink in my hair.

EDUCATOR/INSTIGATOR

For the two past decades, Anitafrika has mentored countless artists through her world-wide performances, speaking engagements, and arts-education projects. She has worked with theatre companies, universities, cultural organisations, and social institutions across North America, the Caribbean, South Asia, South America, Europe and Africa including the United Nations, the Banff Centre, MaRS Discovery District - Studio Y, the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, George Brown College and the Manifesto Festival of Art and Culture.

From 2011 to 2012 she worked as Curator at the Africa Centre in Cape Town, South Africa in their Badilisha Poetry X-Change program, a global podcast platform featuring Pan African poets from within and outside of the continent of Africa. In 2008 she founded anitafrika! dub theatre in Toronto Canada and proceeded to design and facilitate two tuition-free twelve-month national residencies for emerging playwrights instructing them in her Biomyth Monodrama model and assisting them in formulating their own solo performance shows. This initiative grew to become The Watah Theatre — a space for Black & diverse artists who are under-represented in mainstream theatre, addressing challenges in accessing mentorship & professional development as theatre practitioners by eliminating discriminatory selection practices. During its tenure (2008-2018), The Watah Theatre trained over 700 BIQTPOC artists in Toronto Canada. Through establishing Watah’s micro press — Spolrusie Publishing — Anitafrika was also able to publish the new plays, poetry and photography of Watah Theatre artists who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to do so.

Anitafrika’s other initiative, Yemoya, an international artist residency grew to become the Anitafrika Retreat Centre, an initiative that combines arts process with wellness practices for the holistic development of people. Residencies has been facilitated in Hawaii, Jamaica, The Bahamas, South Africa, India, the UK, and Canada. Near one hundred artists worldwide have graduated from Anitafrika’s Yemoya residency; many of whom have gone on to become celebrated artists, educators and activists. Former graduates include Soca King Machel Montano, actor-playwright and entrepreneur Ngozi Paul and Manifesto founder photographer Che Kothari, both from Canada; lecturer and performance artist Ria Hartley from the UK; from Zimbabwe, writer-activist Rudo Chigudu; writer-activist Raphael Cohen from the USA; and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Exhibitionist's host Amanda Parris.

Through her work in Africa, the Caribbean, North America, and Europe with youth and emerging artists, she has created the Anitafrika Method, an intersectional creative leadership praxis that cultivates holistic self-actualisation through arts education. The method is widely used by national and global change-makers such as The Stephen Lewis Foundation, The Banff Centre, U of T, and MaRS. Anitafrika received a grant from Toronto’s Women’s College hospital to conduct research using the Anitafrika Method as a health intervention in the lives of Black and diverse womxn. She was also invited by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to design the Arts Activism and Aids Academy grounded in the method where she facilitated workshops with womxn who work at the forefront of the AIDS pandemic in sub-saharan Africa.

AWARDS  

Monodramas have garnered Anitafrika awards in Canada, Jamaica, UK, and South Africa. She is the acclaimed recipient of the YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts Award, the Women’s Resiliency Award, three Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding New Play (Blood.Claat 2006) and Outstanding Performance (Blood.Claat 2006) and Outstanding Performance (Mami Wata & The PussyWitch Hunt 2016), the KM Hunter Theatre Award, the Toronto Mayor’s Arts Award, a Toronto Leadership Lab Fellow (2015-2016), nine Dora nominations, the William Killbourn Award Finalist, Ontario Premier Arts Award finalist, Canada Council New Chapter Grant for $120, 000 and countless Best Solo Artist Awards and Critics Picks. As a Canadian Poet of Honour, D’bi Young Anitafrika was recently featured as a top poet on CNN. She is also the recipient of a Vital People Award from the Toronto Foundation for her relentless commitment to social justice through the arts.

RECENT CREATIONS

D’bi Young Anitafrika completed an intensive dance apprenticeship at Coba Dance Theatre and a playwright’s residency at Obsidian Theatre in Toronto, Canada in 2016.  She is the front womnxn for the Afro-Dub-Fusion band – D’bi. & the 333 – with Sudanese master musician Waleed Abdulhamid. Having published her third collection of poetry, OYA, she recently also completed her critically acclaimed Lukumi: A Dub Opera (formally entitled Bleeders), the third instalment of her celebrated Orisha trilogy. The Trilogy also features the Dora nominated premiere play Esu Crossing The Middle Passage and the Dora Award winning follow-up piece, Mami Wata & The PussyWitch Hunt. Her most recent projects include: 1. Completing her autobiography Memoir of an Ugly Duckling 2. Pursuing postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London in Performance Making 3. Establishing the Black Performance Groundings at Goldsmiths, University of London — a forum investigating the Processes, Politics and Pedagogies of Black Performance and 4. Travelling the world as a Dubpoet and Keynote Speaker addressing issues of identity, gender, sexuality, divinity, the erotic, race, class and the human experience through her Anitafrika Method.