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‘How Lagos Fringe Festival is expanding Nigeria’s culture space’


A scene of the play

The inaugural edition of Lagos Fringe Festival 2018 has come and gone but the memories created for the eight days it ran are something worth cherishing for a long time.

And so for eight days in the city of Lagos, arts lovers, enthusiasts, and culture critics were treated to a wholesome potpourri of performances and life-altering workshops at Lagos Fringe Festival, which held from November 11 through 18, 2018 in different venues across the city.

Remarkably, the show had support from Access Bank, PAWSTUDIOS and Freedom Park. One of the highlights of the festival was the opening ceremony at Terra Kulture Arena with guest collaborations from Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and the French Consulate.

It was an expression of things to always expect at the festival, as the Kenneth Uphopho-led ensemble presented excerpts from five amazing shows, including August Meeting, Colour Me Pink, The Greatest Showman and Esther’s Revenge.

The two-hour event was preceded by a cocktail and red carpet session.

“Lagos Fringe bridges the gap between the performers and the audience as our evening events also encourage this interaction for a holistic experience of the festival,” Uphopho mentioned. 

Lagos Fringe was home to over 75 performances, events and art market.

One of the of the events was the Opening Act by a multi-disciplinary art organisation based in South Africa, which showcased a piece titled Rooluig, and performed by Jefferson Korkee to a standing ovation from the audience.

Emma Porteus from Situate Arts Festival, Australia, Michael Garbett from Vrystaat Arts Festival/PACE, South Africa and Brighton Fringe’s Managing Director, Julian Caddy, who’s also on Lagos Fringe’s Advisory Board, visited the festival to the delight of organisers.

There were recognition awards for contributors to the performing arts presented to Access Bank, Theo Lawson, Patrick Diabuah and Terra Kulture.

Another achievement for Lagos Fringe 2018 was the presentation of the first ever Women in the Arts Festival curated by Brenda Fashugba-Uphopho, who is also a producer for Lagos Fringe Festival.

Packed with artistic showcases, the festival opened with a panel discussion featuring one of Nollywood’s finest Rita Dominic, WARIF Executive Director, Dr. Kemi Da Silva Ibru, journalist Ijeoma Ndukwe, and Head of Open Society West Africa, Aisha Oshori.

The Deputy High Commissioner, Laure Beaufils hosted over 100 women at her residence to commemorate the opening of the Women in the Arts Festival.

From the organisation, participation, audience enthusiasm, there is no gainsaying that Lagos Fringe 2018 inspired artistic networking across theatre, music, poetry, film, visual arts and dance.

“We want to expand on the collaborations and partnerships from this year,” said festival director, Uphopho. “Lagos Fringe 2018 was a huge success because people came together for a common goal. Date for 2019 has been set for November 19 through 24. Lagos will be home to more performances and international guests to improve tourism.”

An icing on the Lagos Fringe Festival cake was the recent awarded of 2019 Global Fellowship by the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), which signals a clear recognition and appreciation of what Mr. Uphopho is doing to inspire and expand the creative space in the country.

It would be recalled that Uphopho was pioneer director for British Council-inspired Lagos Theatre Festival for four years before it was handed over to a board to oversee its activities starting from 2019 theatre season.

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