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Fosudo wins 4th beeta playwriting competition

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Prof. Sola Fosudo, his son and winner, Tomilolu and mum, Yetunde and Bikiya Graham-Douglas


• Union Bank, Shell Show Support

Last Wednesday, August 3, 2021, Temilolu Fosudo, the son of actor and professor of English, Sola Fosudo, won the fourth edition of the prestigious Beeta Playwriting Competition organised by the Bikiya Graham-Douglas-led Beeta Universal Arts Foundation (BUAF) in Lagos.

The sparkling event was held at Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Onikan, to an admiring audience of art lovers and arts-friendly corporate entities that are supporting the arts with funding and investments.

Young Fosudo had burst into the glittering room just when his mother, who arrived earlier, had collected the award on his behalf. He’d been stuck in one Lagos’ snarling traffic jams and raced through the car lot to be there just in time to collect his plaque. His father walked in moments later to share in the family glory of a prize-winning son in the same performance arts where the senior Fosudo had excelled as an actor at the inception of Nigeria’s Nollywood, before concentrating fully in academics, where he’s now a professor at Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos.

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Fosudo won N1 million prize money with his play, Black Dust, which will also be published by Paperworth Books, as part of the competition package that includes staging the play. He expressed happiness for clinching the prize this year, having come close in the third edition in the runners up category. He showered encomiums on his parents, particularly his father for his support in walking him through the rubrics of the arts and writing where he said he’s written over 10 drama scripts.

Ibukun Fashu was first runner up with his play, Beertanglement, while Kalayingi John-Africa was second runner up with her play, Orchid.

An all-round artist, Graham-Douglas reiterated her passion for developing young talent in the creative sector where she has chosen theatre as forte.

According to her, “we are pleased to be able to holistically impact the value-chain of the performing arts industry in Nigeria by empowering all players to include the writers, directors, actors, and other professionals in the ecosystem. At Beeta we are passionate about telling contemporary organic stories and understand the responsibility that comes with this. It can be daunting putting competitions and productions like these together but we believe it is our responsibility and we are committed to continuing doing so.

“We are often in need of supporters, partners and collaborations. That is why we commend Union Bank Plc and Shell for their continuing support over the years. We urge them not to relent and also enjoin other friends of the culture sector not to shy away from supporting culture productions like this.”

Remarkably, both corporate sponsors of the contest, Union Bank Plc and Shell emphasised that they had actually put their money where their mouths are, affirming that supporting the contest was the right thing to do, not just as part of their corporate social responsibility, but in standing behind Nigeria’s art as a veritable instrument to cause social change and build up teeming youth talent in the country.

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Notable arts administrator and chair of Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), organizers of Lagos Art and Book Festival (LABAF) and journalist, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, commended Graham-Douglas for her steadfastness in organizing the competition for the fourth time in a row. He said in clime where darkness seems to be holding sway, it was heartwarming that people like Graham-Douglas were still shinning a light, “by pursuing the path of light away from the prevailing darkness.”

He urged more support for her to grow the prize. Also, film and documentarist, Mr. Femi Odugbemi, outlined the importance of Beeta Playwriting Competition to include enabling young Nigerians “not just to tell stories, but tell god stories,” adding, “we are not being consumed by bad stories, but bad told stories.”

He noted that the contest is a good avenue to begin the process of reinventing the storytelling wheel for the better. Also publisher and organiser of Kuramo Prize, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore, stressed the importance of storytelling, saying, “I believe everybody has a story to tell. Bikiya is indefatigable in what she does and this really important for the sector.”

Afterwards, Fosudo spoke about his growing art and how much impact winning Beeta Playwriting Competition would have on him.

“Well, I feel great. I feel overwhelmed right now and I didn’t think I would win, but I did and I’m grateful to Beeta for this opportunity and I hope to work with them more in the future to produce the play and to publish the play; it has been wonderful. I was actually part of the shortlisted playwrights last year, and I was the second runner up. So to win it this year feels quite wonderful.”

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