5 March 2009

Nigeria: Lagos in Weekend of Theatre, Glamour

The Swamp Dwellers, a classic written by Nigerian Nobel Prize-winner, Wole Soyinka, will today set the 2009 edition of the National Troupe/National Theatre's annual season of theatrical productions, which entered its third consecutive year, in full motion. Three days later, precisely on Sunday, March 8, the command performance of the drama would ignite the stage of Cinema Hall II of National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, by 4.30 p.m.

With an assemblage of skilled and experienced actors and actresses, under the directorial dexterity of Nick Monu, an alumnus of the American University, Washington D.C. U.S.A., and the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts, London, the classic would be on stage every weekend till March 23.

Monu, who is working on the production for the National Theatre as a guest director, is expected to bring his experience to bear as an actor, film and stage director of many credits to the realisation of this not too often performed play.

Starring Titi Akinmoyo as Alu, Wale Macauley as Makuri, David Uba as the servant, Okonkwo Nfe as the Fluitist, Iwuagwu Martins as Kadiye and Albert Akaeze as the blind beggar, The Swamp Dwellers examines ingrained traditions, beliefs and religions of Africans, while simultaneously exposing the irreligious acts of self-proclaimed religious men in the society.

In the story, two of the characters, who are twins by birth, Along and Budin, leave the Swamp for the city, yet both boys meet different fates. While Budin falls into debt and loses his wife, Along is a successful and wealthy merchant.

According to the director, "the play is quite a brilliant master-piece that is almost unknown. No wonder, he (Prof Ahmed Yerima, Director General of National Theatre and the Artistic Director of National Troupe of Nigeria) gave me a chance to do something that isn't done. Not one that most people have seen and the one that is rarely done and I actually liked it and in actual fact it is much better even when it has been reviewed.

Further commenting on what many theatre buffs tag the master piece, Monu eulogises the prophetic intuition of Soyinka in writing the play.

"It's a tragedy of a working class person of his time. It is very typical of his time in London when they were beginning to create working class heroes. His aim must have been revolutionary. It's interesting to note that earlier on in his career he was writing about the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria."

The director continued, "all is so interesting that he seemed very aware that that region in the future could be problematic to our nation because he is talking and investigating areas where culture becomes dislocated or tries to leap into another culture and has not made any plans for its culture. What happens to individuals, what happens to our nation if it goes off its course smashes into the boulders of time? What happens to us then when we have lost, our families will fall apart, our cities will become chaotic and our nation will be lost in time? And we are talking about a piece that was written a year before our independence almost exactly 50 years ago. And yet Soyinka had predicted many of the areas that have come through in our nation. After all our villages are empty, our cities are crowded and chaotic and thankfully our nation is finding its way."

Wife of the Director, Simone Monu is the Set Designer for the production while a staff member of the National Theatre, Abifarin Bayode, is the Stage Manager.

The National Theater's annual season of theatricals was instituted by the management of the Theatre to encourage consistent staging of theatrical productions and in the process, help revive the dead theatre-going culture among Nigerians.

In the same spirit of live theatre, the weekly Theatre @ Terra takes a new dimension as a play titled Prison Chronicles comes on stage, starting from Sunday, March 8, and running all through the month.

Prison Chronicles is written by Wole Oguntokun who equally doubles as the director of the play. Two shows, one for 3p.m. and the other 6p.m., have been billed for every Sunday in the month at Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The play stars African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) winner, Sam-Uche Anyamele, Future Awards Nominee, Nkiruka J. Osammor, Gbenga Adekanmbi, Sola Roberts Iwaotan, Olarotimi Michael Fakunle and Precious Anyanwu-Marcous among other thespians.

The director, Wole Oguntokun, has been involved in the production of several successful plays within and out of Terra Kulture, including Gbanja Roulette, Who's Afraid Of Wole Soyinka?, The Inheritors, The Return of Sogidi, Piper Piper, The Other Side, The Sound and The Fury, Audu's Way, Anatomy of a Woman, Ladugba and the world acclaimed Virginal Monologues.

Oguntokun is the Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Jason Media and Renegade Theatre, the resident theatre company of Theatre @ Terra.

While Lagos subscribers of the indigenous telecom giant, Globacom get treated to a night of laughter in the Glo Lafta Fest, Abuja, subscribers are still relishing last Saturday's fun as Globacom rocked n ruled the Federal Capital Territory in what was tagged Abuja Glo Rock 'N' Rule, as P-Square squared up with 9ice to dole out a full dose of entertainment at the Abuja edition of the ongoing nationwide concert.

Before the enigmatic twins stormed the stage, a galaxy of several other stars, whom Globacom paraded for the event had already wowed the residents. They included 9ice, Sunny Nneji, Sammie Okposo, Ekwe, Mode9, May7even, Ego and Sani Danja, while Ghanaian songstress, Becca also thrilled the audience.

Like what is anticipated today at the prestigious Planet One in Maryland, Okey Bakassi and Basketmouth took the audience on an unforgettable laughter trip, using every available interlude to ascertain that the audience did not leave the concert venue without cracked ribs.

Today, in a display of appreciation to its subscribers, Globacom would throw a festival of comedy, music and drama in its Glo Lafta Fest. Subscribers who had used N2500 worth of airtime in the past thirty days are granted free access to the venue of the event, which shall have on parade the likes of Okey Bakassi, Basketmouth, 9ice, I Go Die and Face among others.

Meanwhile, all is now set for tomorrow's listening party of highly anticipated Has.son Sage's spoken word/song speak album titled Twinkly Twinkle Superstar at Lydos Cafe/Bar, on Akin Adesola Street opposite Adeola Odeku Junction, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event has been scheduled for 5p.m.

Has.son, popularly known as Sage and who prides himself as the first spoken word poet in the country and the West Africa sub-region was born on June 28. His earliest engagement with society had been as a storyteller. By age 14, he was writing fiction and poetry some of which got published in a local newspaper when he was almost 17. He became an entertainment journalist soon after and worked for five years with a foremost celebrity albumzine, Ovation.

His spoken word debut occurred on Hip-hop World Award on March 10 in 2006 where he blew the minds of the select audience, which in turn accorded him a standing, hooting and screaming ovation. Since then he has been a darling of many audience, who enjoy the edutainment of the Sage.

In Abuja on Sunday, men of the pen otherwise known as writers shall converge on Sam's Valley Garden, Jimmy Carter Crescent, off Protea Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja, for the weekly Abuja Writers' Forum, which features critiques and reading sessions from the works of the authors. The event, according to schedule shall commence at exactly 4p.m. in the afternoon.

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