Deborah Jean-Baptiste-Samuel
Deborah Jean-Baptiste Samuel

In a spirit of thanksgiving and celebration I greet you. Every child is precious and an instrument of purpose. This is the first thing children learn when they become students of The Oratory Foundation. My prayer is that this truth remains with them for it changes their entire approach to life. At the Oratory Foundation, children and teenagers are exposed to oral interpretation, dramatic poetry in performance, choral speaking, and Shakespeare.

The annual ORATORY productions began from a need to make the writings live, to remove them from the pages gathering cobwebs in a box in my study, to living, pulsating performance on stage. This was the reason for their creation, they must talk, sing and shout, for their message must be heard.

Ten years as a journalist and several years as an Attorney at Law have made my analysis of our society’s mirth and malaise very keen, and with a desire to edify the nation I take the natural leap from verse to voice. Oratory is a forgotten “artform”, and since the sixteenth century has been on the decline. Yet as its name dictates (articulation of a national mood, creative oral presentation of social fact, the spoken history of the time) it is useful in our understanding of social, moral, and spiritual issues.

Such emotive expression in the oral art is at once exhilarating and instructive, speech in an animated and persuasive manner has always had its golden merit.

In an attempt to strengthen that which may remain, The Oratory Foundation was born. I believe the mandate is mine to do my part to touch and teach through oration and creative forms of the spoken word. I have begun to create awareness and provide instruction among children, but the plan sees all ages involved in the future. The vision of this organisation is clear – to build a generation of passionate oral performers and profound speakers. The Oratory Foundation will encourage the use of various forms of oratory, be a teaching institution, and equip individuals with salient skills for effective oral expression and leadership.

It is impossible for me to separate poetry from voice, rhythm and performance. You do not read poetry or prose, you hear and see it, you are enwrapped and feel it. The word conjures implied gesture, the voice propels the entire work and touches or tugs – whichever is necessary – to quicken awareness, tone and rhythm reflect mood, and each piece seems to have unwritten accompanying music. In essence there is drama.

Our oratory is the fabric whose woven threads bear testimony to the pulsating rhythm of our speech, the transmission of message, art of storytelling, the recording of language and image, the dance of metaphor and satire, reflection of social reality, colourful poetry, the life-code for generations to come.