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‘Hertitude’… on Lagos theatre festival stage

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When their single mother suffers a debilitating heart attack, three sisters, Kesiena, Rume and Ogor reunite one more time.

The reunion at Rume’s private club becomes an explosive peeling of many years of latent feminine siblings’ angst.

That’s the story of ‘Hertitude’, a headlining feature at the 2019 Lagos Theatre Festival, LTF, which runs March 4 to 10 at various venues around Lagos.

Written and directed by Kesiena C. Obue, a fresh comer into the LTF family, Hertitude will be staged daily from March 8 to 10 in the Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery of Freedom Park, Lagos.

While it runs at 7.30pm on March 8, it will run twice (4.30pm and 7.30pm) on March 9, and at 5pm on March 10.

Set in a private night club, the play is a metaphor for society’s hypocritical hub of immorality.

As each sister struggles to deal with despair, betrayal, loneliness and failure, the play questions the permutations of social and private realities.

Rume (Maryann Ivy) is a club owner, a ‘Madam’ and a pimp who bemoans the emotional deprivation and mental abuse she suffered in the hands of her mother. Kesiena (Uche Chika Elumelu), an intelligent woman with a first-class science degree, now only lives as a kept woman for her high society billionaire husband.

Ogor (Martha Ehinome Orhiere) the third sister is Nollywood’s sweetheart with a seemingly perfect work and marital life.

Past resentments bubble to the surface as the sisters are forced to deal with their individual demons, the pressures of society’s arbitrary formulations of womanhood, the performance of social media fakery and all this while coping with their mother’s ill health and eventual demise.

A series of betrayals eventually disrupts their already dysfunctional lives in a play that also takes the stage with dance and music.
Can Beauty and Ugly coexist? Can one be both strong and vulnerable? Can a thing be perfectly imperfect or imperfectly perfect? Is a right intent for a bad deed justifiable? Who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong? These are by far the most intriguing questions; the playwright wrestles with in brilliant, entertaining staging.
The playwright Obue challenges the permutations of feminine realities in contemporary Nigerian metropolitans like Lagos.  The lid is taken off the familiar ba-dum-bum of social life in the city, to reveal an ugliness that is at once gut wrenching, redeeming and beautiful.

Produced by ‘Kesservier Vanille productions’ and running as part of the British Council supported Lagos Theatre Festival, the play is a refreshing voice for Nigerian women, coming from a young female Nigerian playwright.

In the trail of legendary playwrights like, Zulu Sofola (The Wizard of Law) and American Susan Lori-Parks (TopDog/UnderDog), Obue bristles with talent, skills and guts.

She comes as a writer/director for the stage and film. To date she has written and directed three of her own plays, premiering at the Wole Soyinka Theater, University of Ibadan.

She has also written for Terra Kulture – Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, and, Waka! The Musical!

With degrees in Theater, Film and Microbiology,  Kesiana ia also a trained filmmaker, and has written, directed and produced three short films.

Obue is a young female Nigerian Playwright, Director and filmmaker. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, a Diploma in Film and Postgraduate degree in Theater Arts, from the University of Ibadan. The arts got her attention as a child, even as she initially caved to parental cravings for her to study the sciences and become a Medical Doctor. As a Student she founded her own company, “Kesservier Vanille Productions,” which quickly became the platform for her early artistic expressions and success. In 2009, she published a book “Move A Brain Muscle and Make History”.  She has also written commissioned works for Cable Television; written/directed and produced three short films, plus some other works for Independent feature and documentary film projects. She has two full length plays – “Ivie” and “Hey Brother” under review for publication.

It was these forays that brought her to the attention of Bolanle Austen-Peters, Founder and Artistic Director of Terra Kulture. In 2015, she was commissioned as a writer and Script Editor for Terra Kulture’s Wakaa! – The Musical, which quickly became the highest grossing musical on the Nigerian Stage at the time and would later tour the UK, performing at the Shaw Theatre in London.

She was subsequently the lead writer for other successful in-house projects for the stage and film including Fela and the Kalakuta Queens. The success from these and her distinct voice was enough for her to be fully engaged to join the lead artistic team of Terra Kulture/BAP productions as a Resident Writer/Programs Officer and working directly with Mrs. Austen-Peters as Executive Assistant.
Wearing these many hats at ‘Terra Kulture’ she worked on projects of varying sizes and imports in all areas of arts and culture, including a yearlong celebration of the state of Lagos ‘Lagos @ 50’ and the yet to be released feature film ‘Bling Lagos’ directed by Bolanle Austen Peters.

Obue’s theatrical credits include, writing scripts, directing, liaising with artists and other producers, budgeting and coordinating several other artistic and production responsibilities.

Obue is a synergy of talent, good training and a resonant, inclusive worldview. Her voice as a woman and a writer is essential and fully representative of contemporary Nigerian life. She is poised to tap these for societal growth and development, navigating the complex, global cross-cultural challenges of our 21st century, where Africa is set to play a defining role.


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