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National Theatre

The Donna Storms Hong Kong
Donna Ogunnaike’s Strelitzia is one of the 15 plays from around the world, at the Hong Kong Theatre Festival, which opens Friday November 3, 2017. The play, described by its author as “an experiential journey to self” was first performed at the Lagos Theatre Festival last February. Ms. Ogunnaike is a performance poet who has been part of the spoken word circuit in Lagos for about a decade and half. Her debut as a theatre producer/actress came last year with a play entitled Love Like A Slave, which explores the passions of several professional types who have to juggle their day jobs as lawyers, engineers, bankers, even politicians with “callings” as visual artists, dancers, actors and poets. “Strelitzia aims to stand as a living and breathing repository containing the thoughts of persons recited within a physical box which we are calling a diary (“the Diary”)”, Ogunnaike explained before the first of the nine performances of Strelitzia in February. The play, in which every member of the audience is a “story bearer, is a walk-through in which the person “un-burdens” himself. The Diary involves an exploration of the senses of sight, hearing and smell conveyed through music, childhood memorabilia, film, dance and the continuous recital of diary entries by Ogunnaike herself, as a poet.

Why Possessed and A Platter Are Keys
Supo Shasore, former Lagos State attorney general has, in the last five years, devoted time to studying the British intervention in the affairs of the nations that came together to become Nigeria. While Possessed, his first book, is about the British siege on the economically buoyant city of Lagos, A Platter of Gold, his latest, provides detailed, richly textured, historical account of some of the major characters who led in the struggle against imposition of colonial rule. Contrary to Nnamdi Azikiwe’s often quoted statement about the ease with which Nigeria got independence from Britain, Shasore’s book argues that the many peoples that make up the country did not receive independence on a platter of gold. A lot of blood was shed in the many battles of resistance. Possessed and A Platter of Gold, in several respects, document the difficulty with which the builders erected the foundations of this 54 year old republic. Is it, then, fair to say that the current challenges of the nation state (Fulani Herdsmen killings, Biafran seccession call, Boko Haram, Niger Delta avengers), are rooted in the way the house was built? This is the context in which the session, Sunset At Dawn, scheduled for Sunday, November 12, at the Lagos Book and Art Festival, is grounded.

The theme of the conversation, between the poet, critic and book enthusiast Aduke Gomez, and the lawyer/historian Supo Shasore. is borrowed from the title of Chukwuemeka Ike’s novel on the Biafran war, in which the author notes that there were fractures in the governance of the separatist republic in the earliest days of its creation. The corruption, the authoritarianism and the inequality in Biafra, in its very early days, already presupposed that the young nation was going nowhere. “This conversation around Possessed and A Platter of Gold, is situated in the segment we call Keys To The Knowledge Economy”, explains Jahman Anikulapo, director of the Festival. “This is a segment in which we hope the books we discuss, explain to us, how the knowledge society functions”


Shakespeare…Much More Than Love
To get a hang of what Shakespeare in Love, the play, is about, it is pointless relying on the first couple of descriptions that turn up on Google. The current production at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa, is a many layered play, and love just happens to be the selling point. Shakespeare in Love is a period piece about how marginalised women were in Theatre productions, 450 years ago. It’s about how the government of the day could determine how your play turned out, not only in terms of content, but the possibility of staging. It is about the pervasive influence of playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was the shining star of the Theatre universe at the time Shakespeare was feeling his way around. The three and half hour performance is filled with history and lore even though the producers insist that they took Mark Twain’s advise about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. This, director Greg Karvellas says, “has allowed us to play and expand Shakespeare’s world and history to tell this story about a young writer trying to find his feet”.

Karvellas congratulates himself on what he has done to Shakespeare: “We knocked him off his pedestal, humanised him and toyed with the origin story of English Literature’s mightiest figure”. The cast livens up the story telling with deliberate emphasis on the acting than the speech. The South African media places so much emphasis on Endy Dylan, clearly one of the country’s top actors, who plays Shakespeare, but it is Chris Marlowe’s player Theo Landey, whose playful seriousness most emphasises the lightness of delivery that is the underlying philosophy of the production. Robyn Scott is even handed in her characterisation of the Queen of England. It’s a production in which there is no wasted acting. Those 210 minutes of drama, light background classical music and delicate lighting are worth repeating. Shakespeare in Love runs every day except Mondays until the end of November.

Keith Richards Will Chair The Joy Of Reading
Keith Richards, former MD Guinness, former MD Promasidor, will be in conversation with Layi Fatona, CEO Niger Delta Exploration and Production and Simi Nwogugu, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria, on the Joy Of Reading at the Freedom Park, on Broad Street, Lagos Island.
The event, scheduled for 5pm on November 8, 2017, is one of the highlights of the Lagos Book and Art Festival. The three accomplished business leaders will be discussing their love for books, some of the best books they have read and why they read what they read. “We hope, by this event, to inspire our audience at the Lagos Book and Art Festival by having successful business leaders share their joy of reading with an audience consisting of people like them (other corporate leaders) as well as rank outsiders, including some very young people”, says Jahman Anikulapo, director of the Festival. The panel is themed Leaders as Readers: Why I Read What I Read .

• Compiled by staff of Festac News Press Agency

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