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GM/CEO National Theatre, Oyedepo is dead



Dr. Stella Oyedepo, is dead. The late Oyedepo, whose death occurred April 22, 2019, during a ghastly motor accident while returning from an official assignment, was the General Manager of the National Theatre.

In his tribute, Kwara State Governor-elect, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, described her death as one loss too many to the state and Nigeria as a whole.

“We are devastated by the sudden death of this Amazon who had not only served our state meritoriously as executive director of the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture but was on a national assignment to revive the iconic national theatre, Iganmu,” according to a statement by AbdulRazaq’s media aide, Rafiu Ajakaye.

The Radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) Lagos chapter also commiserated with the arts community, saying, “we join the rest of the world, particularly the entire National Theatre family and the culture community to share in this grief and loss of a very vibrant and resourceful Nigerian.”

We pray God to give the family of Oyedepo, National Theatre, and the entire culture community the fortitude to bear this loss.”

Ahead of her resumption at the National Theatre, Lagos, the playwright and culture administrator had said her mission and goals for the was to turn it around.

Before she assumed office as General Manager of National Theatre, the complex was an eyesore, as the surroundings, including the canal, were filled with refuse of different materials. Everywhere smelt.

Apart from dirty surrounding, the perimeter fence was in a dilapidated condition, while the edifice was an environmental nuisance.

The situation on ground had also become worrisome for people within the premises. Shop owners saw the place as a security risk and a clear danger to lives and property in the neighbourhood.

Area boys had converted the place to their place of abode, using the canal as toilet at night, and illegal structure as home.

Her dream was to make National Theatre the most thriving performance arena. She was totally committed to delivering for all players in the culture sector, as well as the generality of Nigerians.

“Our artistes are part of the stakeholders of the National Theatre. Therefore, they need to be encouraged in order to fulfill the mandate of the National Theatre, which is to promote cultural events in the society. The management of National Theatre will be partnering other stakeholders to restore the complex to its former pride of place in the entertainment industry in the country,’’ she had told The Guardian.

Since August 2018, there has been a series of activities to attract visitors to the venue. Stage productions such as, Salem Touch Production’s staging of Ahmed Yerima’s Ade Ire and directed by Lekan Balogun and Lekan Balogun’s Ojuola directed by Dele Oluwa Vincent and Ms. Josephine Igberaese-led Creative Centre staging of children’s drama. Phinny’s Talent Studio had also presented an art show for kids and teens. Films are also being screened.

Oyedepo had a message for those who had found shelter in alternative venues was: “Come back to the theatre to do your shows.”

She believed, no matter what the avant gardists call the stage and no matter how it is equipped, as a performance venue, National Theatre remains the starting point for artistic encounter, however invisible, ordinary or provocative it may be.

In recent years, many artists in the country’s independent scene have been turning their backs on the National Theatre, because of what they consider as poor state of the facility. They prefer staging their productions in environments away from the theatre, sometimes, extending their performance beyond the artistic space. Little wonder, every crossroad, derelict building, factory floor or wasteland is now a ‘natural biotope for creative expressions’.

With their muezzin, truck drivers and economic migrants, they present their audience with a ubiquitous theatre landscape stretching from the radio to Internet and other platforms.

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