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Drama Headlines Lagos Black Heritage Festival 2015

By Anote Ajeluoro
12 April 2015   |   4:40 am
FROM April 18 through 25, 2015, mostly at Freedom Park, Old Broad Street Prison and Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos will be agog with its yearly heritage festival, with drama as centre-piece.

dramaFROM April 18 through 25, 2015, mostly at Freedom Park, Old Broad Street Prison and Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos will be agog with its yearly heritage festival, with drama as centre-piece.

A rundown of programme of events indicate a highlight that include the following activities: Vision of the Child, Masquerade Parade from Badagry, exhibitions – Children Art & Art fair/Bazaar, Do Your own Thing – Talent hunt programme for youths, Drama and Dance Drama – six plays on showcase, Poetry & Music – Night of the Poets and Meet The Artiste Showcase – The Stage & Screen Career of Olu Jacobs.

Others are Film Screenings – Documentary & Experimental Films and Music Performances – Live from Emukay; Jimi Solanke; Eko Brass Band and more.

To kick-start the performances will be The Beatification of an Area Boy, directed by Wole Soyinka himself on Wednesday and Thursday April 22 and 23 at Freedom Park.

This is followed by Seizing Sambisa, a dance drama written by Francesca Emanuel and Ogochukwu Promise, which is conceptualised by Segun Adefila and directed by Seun Awobajo will in focus. It will be produced by Footprints of David Academy and be showcased on Thursday, April 23 by 1pm at Main Stage, Freedom Park.

Seizing Sambisa is a dance drama woven around the ravaging story of the 276 female students kidnapped in the night of April 14-15 from Government Secondary School, Chibok town in Borno State. Members of the notorious Boko Haram sect later claimed responsibility for the kidnap.

The girls were said to have been taken into the ‘Sambisa Forest’ – a former colonial forest reserve — said to cover about 60,000 square kilometers and straddling the North-Eastern states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, and Bauch! Though some of the girls were reported to have eventually escaped, about 219 of them are yet to be accounted for — one year after! Deploying sarcastic humour to blunt the edge of pain, the dance piece explores the fate of these school children, the impact on the psyche of parents, companions and the community from which they have been plucked. It provokes reflections on the paradox of power and powerlessness, the seemingly intractable reign of impunity in society. Folklore, dance and music hold the audience in thrall.

This experimental dance drama is a work in progress, inspired by this year’s Festival Theme for the Vision of the Child, and presented as its companion piece. This offering also reveals possibilities of a multi-media performance format for a future Children’s Theatre.

Snapshot, written and directed by Bode Sowande, will be staged on Thursday, April 23 and Friday, April 24 by 6pm and 7pm respectively at Terra Kulture, Victoria Iisland, Lagos.

Also, Baba Gentle is a landlord in a Lagos slum. He is not at peace with himself because of a failed investment. He is not at peace in his habitat when he gets a sneak revelation that his property is marked for demolition.

The Tarzan Monologues, written and directed by Wole Oguntokun is a Renegade Theatre production and will be staged on Friday, April 24 by 6pm at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island.

AN international award-winning production written and directed by Wole Oguntokun, the Tarzan Monologues is a theatrical compilation of global topics as seen through the eyes of African men. The issues dealt with include the societal pressure on men to succeed, the dilemma of finances, women and children, sexual abuse, religion and infidelity among many others.

These monologues humorously but accurately provide insight into the complexities in the nature of men, their world, their pains, tragedies, triumphs and frustrations.

The Tarzan Monologues encourage the scrutiny of stances on gender relations through the use of drama, music and dance. The stage becomes a metaphor for life and its challenges, allowing audience members, male and female, see their own lives represented through performances deliberately designed to encourage interactions between actor and on-looker.

Other productions are The Tragedy of King Chrostophe playing on Sunday, April 19, 7pm; Mon. April 20, 7pm; @ Main Stage, Freedom Park, Lagos; Gbekude, ro be performed on Monday, April 20, 12noon; Wednesday, April 22, 12noon; Thursday, April 23, 4pm at FoodCourt, Freedom Park, Lagos; Sound Verses & Senses: A Music-Poetry Cross-pollination, dedicated to the memory of Steve Bankole Omodele Rhodes. It is conceived and directed by Jahman Anikulapo and produced by Culture Advocates Caucus (CAC). It comes alive on Saturday, April 25, 7pm at Amphi Theatre, Freedom Park, Lagos.

Before he passed on six years ago, the Art impresario Steve Bankole Omodele Rhodes had been working on a sound fusion experimentation through which he desired to explore the relationship between rare traditional musical instruments and Western instruments in contemporary urban Lagos musical forms. He had gone as far as collecting a lot of such rare, almost extinct instruments and was already researching into their musical implication for today’s sound.

It seems that the idea of UHURU Sound – a concept developed by the multi-instrumentalist, Ceph and the poet Abdulrasaki Ivori — is a continuation of the Steve Rhodes dream. This concept has been adopted into Sound Verses & Senses for the LBHF. This project is thus a tribute to the unfinished work of Steve Rhodes.

A statement from the Festival Consultant, Prof. Wole Soyinka, indicates, “News of an impending visit by the historic Globe Theatre in England was a major factor in LBHF’s decision to prolong its break from the geography based thematic series – The Black in the Mediterranean Blue — on which the Festival embarked in 2012.

The visit of a famed professional theatre seemed too good an opportunity to miss for calling attention to the yet impoverished local status of Theatre. Thus, for this year’s edition, it was decided to centre activities around – DRAMA!

“Alas, we were not to know that the real-life drama of the Nigerian elections would be extended by a full month, compelling the Festival’s shift of dates in turn.

Our expected collateral harvest of attention through immediacy is somewhat diminished. Nonetheless, we still hope that the passage of these professionals, will linger as the Festival picks up the gauntlet, even a month later. It should at least invigorate interest in the theatrical arts, underlining the practical challenges with which the home-grown version has to contend in virtually every aspect of dramatic presentation.

“This year’s excursion into Drama as central theme does however offer a special contribution to the artistic trail blazed by these visitors. Its format was inspired by an increasing awareness of the need to bring theatre closer to the people, not merely confine it to predictable, albeit efficiently structured venues.

Directors were selected, then encouraged to scout for optional spaces that they find most appropriate to their choice of plays – bare spaces, night clubs, open pavilions etc. – thus weaning drama of domination by ‘congenial confinement.’ Freedom Park will therefore constitute only one of this year’s drama venues, though without abandoning its role as the hub of the Festival.

“Other activities include the pilot edition of the Mentor/Protégé project. Experienced hands in the sub-disciplines of the Dramatic Arts – playwriting, acting, directing, technical theatre, dance-drama etc. – have been invited to mentor one aspiring theatre practitioner each, in a learning collaboration lasting six weeks. At the end of this period, protégés will showcase their projects.

This, we hope, will become a regular feature, not only in Drama but in other Arts disciplines. Interested audiences will be permitted to observe some of this aspect of “passing the baton”, a condensed exercise in what is also known as apprenticeship, or passing on skills – in short, a mission is to preserve a continuity of experience in specialized skills.

“This year also, the Festival will pay homage to one of the Nigerian theatre veterans with a wide experience of the stage both abroad and in Nigeria, and who has been a source of inspiration to a whole generation of theatre artistes.

If even a small measure of professional discipline has succeeded in penetrating the glut of video drama in what is now known as ‘Nollywood’, it is only thanks to this artiste who will be our Guest in the MEET THE ARTISTE series.

“And then – a different kind of preservation – starring the Veteran of veterans, the late Hubert Ogunde who will be the subject of an Exhibition.

New generation enthusiasts and those who simply wish to stroll down memory lane can look forward to browsing through the memorabilia of the indisputable pioneer of Nigerian theatre. Whenever the expressions ‘Folk theatre’, ‘Folk Opera’, ‘Traveling Theatre’ etc.